How to build meaningful habits and connect them to your personal values

How to build meaningful habits and connect them to your personal values

Life is a web of commitments. We grow up and move from self to a commitment to something. That something can be a calling, a partner, a belief or philosophy of life, or a community.

In the learning path to that meaningful commitment(s), we need to better define our values and identity step by step through our life. If we know where we come from, how our personality works, we can better connect with what we stand for. Or what we aspire to be.

I think it is important to consciously be aware of this. Every year I write down a number of intentions in a booklet. These intentions are mainly translated into habits that together form my identity, who I am. I have a flexible approach. When I was 28 I wrote, for example, that I wanted to study yoga and meditation. It wasn’t until I turned 32 that I started practicing yoga and meditation almost every morning. It is important to feel inner intentions connected to the goals you set. Otherwise, you will not be able to commit to these goals with devotion. It is about adopting disciplined habits that bring you closer to your calling.

What is your outlook for the coming period?

I think it is important to think about what I’m doing in my life at least once a year. Where does the train go to. I do this because it gives me a feeling of being in control. When I look at life and the world, I see a succession of a lot of people who are just doing something. I’m no different. Sometimes I clearly know where my train is going and at other times I really have no clue. And I think that is perfectly fine.

In my perspective, consciously dwelling on the things you do ensures that not only others or your environment determine that for you. Where your time and energy goes is a unconscious or conscious way of spending it. Whether you indulge in a long journey on a bike or the education of your child. You cannot change what comes your way, but I see the way you deal with it as a choice, a choice you have influence on. Perhaps the only thing in your life that you actually influence.

Every year I write the following down in a journal.

1. Something about myself that I want to change to become more of the person I want to be…

Who am I and what is my calling? Nobody really has a clear answer to this question and often most of people are just doing something. And I’m no different. The question why we walk around here on earth is a too big question to ask ourselves. I do know from experiences, often painful situations or moments where I failed what I would like to change for the future. To better deal with the great challenge of being human. Trial and error and thus become a better person for ourselves and our environment. Learning to connect to a cause without ourselves related to something that is bigger then ourselves.

When you find it difficult to start it might help to make things visual. I once made a drawing of my values and have it connect with each other. Where I stand for as a being.

2. What are three important goals for me that I want to achieve in the upcoming year…

I enjoy uncovering my personality. For a long time I often felt very uncomfortable in groups of more than five people. I could only think of myself instead of going with the energy of the group. I have never learned not to be uncomfortable in these groups, but I have learned to better analyze emotions that arise and find ways to deal with them. For example, by learning to communicate better. That can be a goal. Learning to better guard my own boundaries. Or learn to make myself a more open and vulnerable person to others.

3. Which people do I want to surround myself with and what do I value in these people…

We are the average of the six of our most valuable persons in life. Do you want to become a more optimistic and positive person and the people around you demand a lot of energy in a negative way? Then it will be difficult to change yourself with inspiration from your environment. Searching for determined people like yourself on a regular basis can shed light on things that are unclear. The people who are close to you should strengthen you in who you are and who you want to be.

4. In the coming year I want to work on the following habits…

For example, learn a basic of the Spanish language. Get up daily and write for half an hour. A 10 kilometer run every week. These are concrete actions that you can manage on a daily or period basis.

Write down the habits you want to work on and which you are fully motivated to. And not unimportant, formulate them from a positive approach. Bad habits automatically give way to good habits if you can commit yourself from a deeper motivation.

I keep this list and then reflect every year with previous lists. In times when I’m lost during the year, I check the list. I make it clearer in my head. And I make changes when I find it necessary. It is and remains a snapshot, a station of a ride of which you never know exactly the final destination, but in which you gradually connect yourself more and more with the common thread of your life.

There is a more extensive and free workbook available via YearCompass on building your true goals and aspirations.