Aligning with Values — And Not Just at Work

Kathleen Ventura June 26, 2017

As entrepreneurs and leaders, we are so wrapped up in the all-consuming empire building that it’s easy to let our lifestyle aspirations fall to the back burner. I see this with my clients all the time. Smart, ambitious business owners throwing everything they have into being the change they wish to see through their work, while living on the edge of burnout. The work is never done, there is always more to do and you start sacrificing important parts of your life in the name of your business growth.

There are a few problems with operating in this way. The most obvious is a lack of integrity. This will always manage to catch up with you, and honestly, you don’t want it to get to that point (nor does it have to!)

The world needs social entrepreneurs now more than ever and we know it is a special time in history for conscious companies to be leaders. However, being the change you want to see through just your work isn’t enough. It is also your responsibility to be actively creating a lifestyle that is in alignment with your unique values and priorities. You have to walk your talk beyond your business.

When you realize your business has brought you the abundance and influence you had hoped for, but then you look around and realize that your relationships, well-being, leisure, family, fitness and more are all non-existent, something is out of alignment.

This is your cue to be more intentional about creating your lifestyle the same way you intentionally built a life/community/world-changing business — with deliberate, examined choices and action.

If you are out of integrity or alignment, doing one thing at work and something totally different in your personal life, it will eventually catch up with you and start negatively impacting your business.

It’s time to return to your core values and take steps to live by them every day. Revisit what your ideal vision is for your family time, your fitness, your diet, your relationships and so on. And how are you behaving as a consumer? Are the products, brands and companies you buy from in alignment with your priorities of organic, local, fair trade labor, etc.?

When you are thinking of your ideal lifestyle don’t worry about the “how.” Instead, focus on the what. Identify what is most important to you in all areas of your life and then find one bite-size thing you can do every day.

This might start with getting up 15 minutes earlier to spend some time with your partner or family, it might be composting food scraps in the kitchen, something like walking or riding your bike to the office to decrease your carbon footprint, or simply reschedule all meetings that used to occur during the weekly farmers’ market, so you can start buying local produce.

Start small and focus on consistency. Those small, micro changes shift the trajectory of your life experience, and tend to evolve with you. There will be a time for quantum leaps, but first start with: What is most important to you, and what is one thing you can do every day to move toward it?

When you’re consciously and intentionally designing a lifestyle you love, you are able to show up for others and be at your best for meetings, interviews, events and any kind of business-related activity.

There is this common belief among high-achievers that taking time off or making space for purely personal activities is counterproductive. But something I gently remind my clients of all the time is that taking care of yourself isn’t a “waste” of time. Using your time and energy for things like exercise, meditation, travel, cooking healthy meals, reading, sleeping and enjoying family activities is also extremely important.

When you are wound so tight and operating from the belief system that every minute of the day must be highly effective, efficient and productive there is literally no space for creativity or pleasure.

So, now it’s time for implementing some new boundaries. These are going to be your new non-negotiables for intentionally designing a lifestyle you love. It’s like adhering to your personal priorities the way a business adheres to its mission statement.

Be mindful to establish boundaries in a way that feels good to you. Maybe it is about how many hours you’ll sleep each night, when you will or will not take business calls, or how often you cook (and eat!) a fresh, homemade meal with your family.

Prioritizing yourself enables you to show up at your best for meetings, interviews, events, and more. You can’t be running on fumes and be expected to hold up the world at the same time.

Set an example, for employees and friends and family alike.

I once heard Yvon Chouinard, founder and owner of Patagonia (and my personal hero) say in an interview, “You know, you look out in our parking lot and there are SUVs and big cars out there, and the majority of our employees are wearing Levi’s, which are not organic cotton, it’s very hard to get that across, that I am the problem.”

Now it’s important that I note that I’ve been to Patagonia headquarters and I will affirm what we all know: Patagonia is doing more things right than just about anyone else. But my point in sharing Chouinard’s comment is that being conscious in your personal life (wearing the organic clothing, driving the electric cars, eating a whole-food, plant-based diet, and more) puts you in a unique position to inspire action in others just by walking your talk beyond the business’s mission statement.

I have so many business colleagues, friends, and clients coming to me on a daily basis and saying that they learn something new every time they talk to me, listen to an interview, or watch my Instagram stories. Because I’m living intentionally in my personal life in a way that is so important and aligned with my values, those around me are naturally noticing my unapologetic (and often enthusiastic) conscious lifestyle choices. So, if I’m talking about how important it is to reduce known toxins in my home, it makes sense that in the next breath I’m sharing how we use nontoxic paints made from organic materials while remodeling our home.

Enjoying life means you are likely in a good space to not take things too seriously, be a better leader, and generally be less stressed.

When you are actively participating in designing a lifestyle that meets your needs and desires, you begin to regain that sense of “I’m in control of my life.” Not to mention, you enjoy your life more when it’s full of things you intentionally put in it! Your enthusiasm for this new, intentional lifestyle will naturally attract people who are inspired by your examined choices. And when you live in alignment with your values, this opens you up to experiencing ease of growth, contribution, affluence, abundance, and opportunities without breaking much of a sweat.

Social Entrepreneurship / Stakeholder Capitalism
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