quick! name your top 3 values.

Why am I writing about values on a health coaching blog?

There’s a lot of crossover in the coaching world: the same concepts and exercises are used in slightly different forms by health coaches, life coaches, decision coaches, money coaches….

For example, I’ve come across this idea in just about every form of coaching and even in yoga:

Basically, how you do anything is how you do everything.

And just about every coach will ask you to do an exercise that will get you in touch with your core values (sometimes called “finding your why”) before you start setting goals and intentions.

If you’ve ever done a YOURstory session with me, you know that once you’ve told me what your health goals are, I always ask you to back up and tell me the “why” behind them. I’m really asking you what the benefits of achieving your goals are, and I often suggest you use the following template:

“I want to [insert goal hear] so that I can [insert benefit here].”

And sometimes I ask you to dig deeper and answer the why to the why—sort of like the five whys exercise that I believe originated at Toyota.

“I want to eat healthy so that I can lose weight” is just not enough to move most people toward weight loss.

“I want to lose weight so that I can have less joint pain.” Ditto. Keep going.

“I want to have less joint pain so that I can move more easily and often.” Keep going.

“I want to move more easily so that I can play with my grandchildren.” Keep going.

“I want to play with my grandchildren because family is really important to me.” Bingo!

You’ve just identified one of your most deeply-held values: family.

Try this at home! (How often do you hear that advice?)

discover your values

How do you know when you’ve gotten to the bottom, the last why, your core value? You why should make you cry! (Yeah, I know, there’s that dirty word that starts with s-h. And sometimes, it’s the right word choice.)

One way to think about whether you’ve identified your core values is to consider: can they be carried in a wheelbarrow? (Thanks to business and money coach Shandra Moran for that imagery!)

My parents, my children, my partner, my friends—technically, they can all be put in a wheelbarrow, so you’re not quite there yet. Perhaps “strong relationships” is a better way to state that value.

My house, my car, my art collection—well, it might take a big wheelbarrow, but it’s doable. Maybe “material wealth” is a better way to state it.

You get the idea…. And remember: our values are as bio-individual as the food choices that help us to thrive.

put them to work for you

Whether you lean into more masculine energy (motivation) or feminine (invitation), once you are in touch with your core values, they serve a purpose: they become your guidestar, your compass as you navigate the decisions you’re faced with daily.

If “health” is one of your core values, then the choice between chocolate cake and an apple becomes very clear: that’s not to say you don’t eat the cake once in awhile—it’s that you choose the apple more and more often. You’re more likely to move your body than sit on the couch (or at least move your body and then sit on the couch).

As humans, we’re wired for pleasure, and when we make choices that align with our values, they’re pleasurable. I hear you—you’re saying, “WHAT? Chocolate cake and bingeing Netflix are much more pleasurable than apples and workouts!” In the moment, perhaps—and consider what your inner voices (what one client calls the itty bitty sh!tty committee in her head) sound like…. THAT is not pleasurable at all, is it?

Really don’t believe that eating healthy and moving your body are pleasurable? Perhaps health is not really one of your core values—and that’s okay. No judgment here, so don’t go judging yourself, either.

Actually pausing long enough to tune into your core values when faced with decisions—from the tiny to the huge—is another matter altogether, and that’s something that takes practice.

Very often, the job of a coach is to help you identify your core values—then point out where you may be living out of alignment with them.

“If health is really a core value, then why are you buying junk food?”

“If family is really a core value, then why are you putting in 80-hour weeks?”

how you do one thing…

Another point to consider is that truly core values remain constant across every facet of our lives.

Take the core value of health: if you’re making aligned choices based on that compass, then…

  • You adhere as closely as you can to food choices that are whole, cooked from scratch, eaten in moderate portions with mindfulness and gratitude.
  • You move your body regularly, whether that means training for a marathon or taking a walk around the neighborhood daily.
  • You choose beauty, skincare, and home cleaning products that are non-toxic.
  • You spend money on preventative care.
  • You prioritize sleep over activities that keep you up late.
  • You choose time in nature over social media.
  • And so on….

Is family a core value?

  • You eat family meals.
  • You exercise as a family rather than alone.
  • You choose where you live based on proximity to those you love.
  • You invest in family vacations.
  • Etc….

As you slowly navigate the choices using your values as a compass, you begin to develop habits—some of them tiny—that can be layered on top of each other to create gradual, sustainable transformation in your life.

make the connection

The steps described here are the process I take you through when we work together to reach your goals—and of course, there’s a fun acronym I use to remind you of it: EAT (because I’m into food).

  • E = engage your inner wisdom so you can really connect with what your core values are
  • A = align your daily choices with those values, so they become habits
  • T = transform your life through layering small, sustainable habits on top of each other

So if you’re ready to EAT™ your way to health (or any of your other goals), apply for the next cohort of my signature group coaching program! We launch September 27, 2021, so there’s still plenty of time to not just enjoy your summer but get back into some semblance of your school-year / summer’s over routine!

Details + application link

[Image by Mary Pahlke from Pixabay]