Updated: Dec 18, 2019
Not that long ago, I was approaching my 40th birthday. I woke up one day and I thought, what have I done with these last 40 years? The answer is that I just tried to survive the hard stuff that life threw at me and hoped things went smoothly.
I realized that just letting life happen wasn’t good enough. I wanted to truly live! I didn’t want to wake up in another 40 years and wonder what I’ve done with that time. I needed to develop a habit of living intentionally.
It was right about that time, that I heard a podcast from Havilah Cunnington and she said that it’s important to develop and write down values that you want to live by every day. Then, make every decision according to those values.
As we close out this year and prepare to start a new one, this is the perfect time to develop your habit of living intentionally. I’d like to encourage you to write down five core values you’d like to live by and look at them every morning to remind yourself how you’re going to live intentionally and make the most of this life.
Reading my core values every morning reminds me to use them as a guide and intentionally approach each challenge or relationship in a way that is true to how I want to live and who I want to be.
Core value #1: Live in confidence.
Confidence is a struggle for me. Around the age of 27, I became very sick. I discovered I had Fibromyalgia. It became so bad that I couldn't take care of myself. I lost my business and my house because I was too sick to work. Thankfully, God has restored my health but I still don’t go to work every day and interact with people as most do. Social interaction is a skill, just like speaking a language. If you don’t use it, you lose it.
This core value reminds me that I was created to have community and connection. Although I may not feel confident all the time, I can look to The One who made me to tell me who I am and what I’m capable of. From there, I can take small steps each day toward becoming more and more comfortable in social situations. It reminds me to speak God’s truth about who I am in response to that critical voice that tells me I’m not enough.
Core value #2: Value and love others.
This requires the courage to be vulnerable. Vulnerability sounds like a bad word, doesn’t it? The thing is, we can’t truly love and value others without it because we'll likely be hurt by those we love. We may be rejected or betrayed. Yet we all need to be valued and loved, so who will do it? Only the courageous.
Each day, I try to be brave enough to love without expecting love or anything else in return. Our expectations of how others should love us put us in bondage because we’ll constantly be disappointed. Expectations cause us to regret, manipulate, and retaliate all in the name of being loved properly. Releasing those expectations of others allows us to love as Jesus did, without conditions.
Core value #3: Live in abundance and wholeheartedness.
To me, living in abundance means that I am free from living under the oppression from anything like anger, fear, or a need to control- anything that can drag me down and hold me back from being everything that I was created to be.
I realized how important living in wholeheartedness was when my husband, Jose, and I traveled to Portugal. Before our trip, we’d binged-watched this series on Netflix called The Money Heist. The main character in the show told the others that the song Bella Ciao was very significant to his father. They would all sing this song throughout the series as a bonding experience.
Jose and I adored this song and we’d sing it at the top of our lungs in the car. It became our bonding song. We looked up the lyrics and meaning and learned that it was very significant to a freedom movement in Portugal.
On the first night of our Portuguese vacation, Jose and I were on the streets of Lisbon, enjoying this street performance. There were five guys, each playing a horn. They were appeasing the tourists with American songs. A group of local kids was hanging out and they were dancing and having a blast. These kids seemed so joyful, it wasn’t the kind of banter and energy that I see kids exude in the states. These kids didn’t have anything to prove to each other. They weren’t worried about impressing the crowd or their friends. They were uninhibited to dance and sing as their hearts led them.
Then it happened- the band played the song Bella Ciao. Jose and I looked at each other, mouths gaping wide, then smiling ear to ear. We couldn’t believe it! Have you ever had the feeling that somebody had scripted the moments in your life so perfectly and that they all culminated into this one unbelievably magical moment? That is how we felt.
Soon the kids initiated a conga line and the band followed suit. They danced uninhibited through the crowd, encouraging us to join in. A few did but the rest of us looked around at each other with smiles on our faces, but with eyes that said, I know you’ll judge me if I do that.
The thing is that we weren’t judging those who were dancing. We envied them. Later that night, Jose and I reminisced how amazing it felt to be in Lisbon with that song playing among all of those wholehearted people. Then I told him that I really regretted not dancing. As magical as the moment was, it could have been so much more! Fear of what others thought of me had limited my experience. So this core value reminds me every day to live wholeheartedly and if my heart tells me to dance, I'm going to dance!
Core Value #4: Adventure- have the courage to live boldly and dare to dream.
Living for God is the greatest adventure. He’s placed a desire in your heart that can usually be traced back to when you were a child. Then, when the time is right, He’ll reignite that passion. Just because God is calling us into our purpose doesn’t mean it’s not scary. Leaving comfort and stepping out into the unknown can be down-right terrifying. This core value reminds me that adventure is worth the risk of failure.
Elizabeth Gilbert says in her book, Big Magic, that “fear is boring.”
Isn’t that true? Fear is really boring. I want to be able to say at the end of it all that I did the hard things, I ran after adventure, I tasted victory and I grew in wisdom through defeat.
Core Value #5: Look for the good.
Look for the good in people, situations, and myself. Some people can be difficult to love but beyond the surface of iron walls they've built for protection, below the mud and mire of habits they've developed through hurts they've endured, is the person that God created them to be. I believe that what we seek out in others will grow. If we search for the gold and gently work to draw it to the surface, it will come... and it will shine brightly. This applies to situations and it applies to myself. Look for the good and draw it out.
While I may not always hit the mark, every day I choose to live intentionally.
I choose to work toward achieving my passion to change the world through writing and speaking. I mindfully make decisions that reflect my core values: Have confidence that I am enough, value and love others, live in abundance and wholeheartedness, seek out adventure, and look for the good in people, situations and myself.
Now is a great time to write down five core values that you want to focus on living out each day. Set them as a reminder on your phone so every morning while you’re enjoying your coffee, you can read them and think about what you’re facing that day. Ask yourself how you can apply your core values to the adversities you’re working through and the relationships that you want to nurture.
What are your five core values? I'd love to hear about them in the comments section!