When I talk about the category of ‘Self’ in Balance is BS, we’re thinking about spiritual, emotional, intellectual and physical health. The things you carry inside yourself, that determine who you are, and impact whether you’re thriving or struggling.
In this 3-part series we cover off the main areas in my book around self, business and personal. In this section around self, we look at values, setting effective goals and defining your personal pie including what fills your soul.
We start with self as this is the fundamentals from which we will base all our decisions on – our compass.
“As a woman I tend to overcomplicate things so when I find myself doing this, I revisit my set of values/goals and pie. This quickly identifies the areas where I am stuck and gives me a base to make clear decisions and set me back on-track.”
Tamara Loehr, Wellness Entrepreneur & Author of Balance is B.S.
How to define your values
If you do an honest audit of how you spend your time, who you spend it with, how you fill your space and where your money goes, it will reveal what you value most.
If you do the values audit and feel like you’re spending your time, money and energy on things that aren’t fulfilling to you, this reveals something important about your values. It’ll show that you’ve got an underlying value that’s overriding other values. Something bigger might be edging out the things that you really wish you could honour.
For example, your underlying value might be about wanting to fit into socially—you want to conform to what other people are doing and fulfil their expectations, so that drives your choices, even if it means choosing things you don’t truly want. Or maybe you’re temporarily ignoring one value in pursuit of another (for example, compromising on your family life because you’re chasing financial security.) If you have values in some areas that are in conflict with values in other areas, one or the other will get squashed.
“When I do a values audit of my work life it reminds me that I really value personal growth. When I spend time in my businesses, I want it to be spent around people who think differently than me. I like working with people who intimidate me a little bit with their intelligence. I like to be the little fish, and I keep changing ponds,” Tamara explains.
“But I’ve already mentioned that I value asset-building as well. The way I approach business is really annoying from an asset point of view, because if I stayed longer in each company I’d still be there when it grew really big. But I like working in startups. I know that asset-based wealth is a really good idea, but I’m not going to accumulate it at the expense of growing and challenging myself.
“(Plus, I’d rather work with good people than rich people. I’ve earned the right not to put up with dickheads. That’s a better reward than a fancy car.)”
This is an example of a values conflict that need to be negotiated all the time when making business decisions. It’s okay to have values that work against each other, as long as you’re aware of it and making intentional choices.
In the book you will work through the exercise of how to audit and define your values, talk about conflicting values and how to address this and how to use your values too navigate.
Remember, when values are in conflict, it creates guilt and sadness and anger. Most people don’t know what to do about it, so they just live with it, but you don’t have to live with it. You can create self-awareness around your values and the order in which you prioritize them, to give yourself the best chance of creating a life that has the least amount of friction when it comes to living out your values.
Setting Effective Goals
As you work through the areas of your life in the book, first you’ll identify your values and assess your level of satisfaction in each area. Then in order to increase your satisfaction, you need tools for increasing your effectiveness and the probability of getting what you want out of life. Part of that is knowing how to set effective goals.
Some people think they’re not goal-setters. You might be one of them.
Some people just aren’t naturally motivated by mapping out goals and working towards them. Other people have tried lots of goal-setting in the past and it hasn’t worked, so they feel cynical about it.
We’re not interested in putting you through a rigid goal-setting exercise resulting in a plan you’ll never stick to, with a vision board made of things that won’t really fill up your soul, ultimately leading to insecurity and shame when your plans don’t work out. Goal setting should be a source of freedom, not a trap you set for yourself that ends in failure.
Just like your plans, your goals might change. And once you get close to achieving a goal, you’ll probably lose interest in it, move the goal posts a little further away and set a better one.
Goal setting is not about ticking off a list of achievements—it’s about honing your skills, achieving more stuff with less effort, increasing your options and growing all the time in the direction you want to go. It’s not about the goal. So, you can let it go. Freedom!
Your personal pie
We all know what it feels like when the blend is right. You have enough energy to get through most things you want to achieve in a day, and when you get home on Friday night and it’s time to sit on the couch with a glass of wine, you feel like you can really enjoy it. When you think about work you feel a buzz of motivation and you can’t wait to check how things are performing, because you know they’re going well. You look forward to going home to your family. You have time to have a bit of fun.
The blend looks different for everybody. You might be at your most content when you’re working fewer hours and spending more time at home with the kids, but another person might thrive on fourteen-hour work days. Your ideal week might involve going to the gym five times, but another person will feel great about a massage.
So, it’s up to you to define your own ideal. Ask yourself, ‘when am I at my most content?’
To answer this question, imagine your life as a pie. You have a slice for work, a slice for holidays, a slice for time at home, a slice for time with friends, and all the other ways you mainly spend your time. How big do you want each slice to be?
It might help to think about the slices not as chunks of time, but chunks of energy. How much of your focus and attention do you want to be taken up with your business? With your kids? With your social life? With your current hobby, obsession or personal challenge?
And how small do you need to make the slices of things you don’t particularly want in your life, but can’t avoid?
An example for Tamara is doing chores.
“You can’t go through life never cleaning up anything, but I want my ‘chores’ slice to be about 1%. I literally just want to pick up after myself; I get annoyed picking up after my children and I draw the line at picking up after my husband. I will not cook and I will not clean. I don’t enjoy it, and I could be doing something I love for half an hour to pay for it instead of doing it myself and taking four hours. That’s what I know about me and chores,” Tamara explains.
So when you’re at your most content, how big is each slice of energy in your pie?
When you’ve figured this out you might take some of the main slices and divide them up again, according to what makes you most content in those areas. For example, Tamara knows that she functions best when her ‘work’ slice is at least 50% creative work and no more than 10% on compliance and reporting and all that ‘sleep-at-night’ stuff.
“In my ‘personal life’ slice, I need one day a week that’s all about me. My friends, my children, the activities we like to do. Absolutely no obligations whatsoever. I work during the week and I work long hours; that’s fine, it’s a big chunk of my life and I love it. But it means that I guard my weekends really carefully. The kids don’t do sports on the weekend; they can do as many activities as they like during the week after school, but we don’t do sports on weekends. We don’t have pets because we love to travel on the weekends and overseas at least twice a year (and we wouldn’t want to put our pets in a kennel). Travel is a huge part of keeping me and my hubby sane; if I personally don’t go over the ocean at least once every two months I get island fever. And sleep-ins are really important to my wellbeing, at least one sleep-in a week with cuddles. That’s me,” states Tamara.
So ask yourself: when are you happiest at work? What activities are you doing? Are you mentoring people, are you strategizing, are you coming up with ideas or executing them?
When are you happiest at home? What activities are you doing? Are you cleaning, are you present with your kids, are you cooking with your family, are you out in your garden?
This exercise is about self-awareness. Once you can define your perfect pie, you know what you need to do to keep your baseline steady. It’s not up for judgement because everybody’s got their own thing. It’s your game and you get to define the rules.
If you’re off-kilter, it can take a while to change your habits to where you want them to be. But it’s worth the investment to get it back on track. Try not to fix everything at once. Figure out which area is the furthest from where it needs to be and go and fix it.
Getting this right can seem overwhelming, but everyone’s always got options. A great saying is that ‘you’re only one decision away from changing your life’.
Let’s define it, own it and uncomplicated things.