What does it really mean to “live your values”? As I approached my 30th birthday, this question kept nagging at me. I had a good job, wonderful friends, financial stability—but something still felt off. I realized that while my lifestyle checked all the “responsible adult” boxes, it didn’t truly align with what matters most to me.
So I did some soul searching and asked myself, “What are my core values? What gets me out of bed excited in the morning?” Ding! All of a sudden it clicked why I felt that disconnect: My lifestyle didn’t reflect my values around creativity, learning, adventure, and health. Cue mild quarter-life crisis.
How could I reshape my lifestyle to honor my values? Easier said than done, I learned quickly. As much as I wanted to quit my job to become a world-traveling nomadic writer overnight (don’t we all?), even I had to admit that wasn’t the most, let’s say, “practical” plan.
So I got out my trusty journal and asked myself, “What’s one small change I could make this week to introduce more creativity into my life?” And from there, I built up momentum step-by-tiny-step. For example, I:
- Signed up for a weekend acrylic painting workshop that unleashed my inner Picasso (well, let’s not get carried away…but I did thoroughly enjoy getting messy with paint!)
- Joined a local running group and trained for my first 5K race this year (running has always grounded and energized me)
- Blocked off two “untouchable” nights a month for adventure with friends—we went to comedy shows, cultural festivals, axe throwing, and escape rooms, embracing the spontaneous and unknown
Over time as I introduced more small changes, I saw my values and lifestyle realign. Of course, there were hiccups along the way. Like when I spontaneously booked a solo trip to Nicaragua…then realized my passport expired. Whoops! But shaking up life’s status quo led me to so many little joys I’d been missing out on.
Here are a few key insights if you’re also hoping to nurture more value-aligned living:
- Identify 3-5 core values most vital to your wellbeing. Dig deep on what matters most, beyond superficial wants
- Brainstorm specific activities or interests tied to each value. Even better if they scare you a bit!
- Start small by picking one value to introduce, even in a tiny way, into your regular routine
- View “failures” as data points; course-correct and try a different small change if needed
- Over time, stack your routine with more value reflections
- Monitor your energy levels—when your inner fire is stoked, you’re onto something!
The effort to live by your values is never “complete”—it’s a constant journey of knowing yourself and what makes you come alive. But it’s one of the most worthwhile pursuits I’ve found. No matter where you are in life, taking small steps to root your lifestyle in your values will nourish you from the inside-out.