As moms we are bombarded by so many options for everything. Every mom you know has constant decision fatigue. Can I eat this? When are we going back to the zoo? How many crackers has he eaten? When should we get the oil changed?
Sometimes I just want to answer “I don’t care.” But my husband would be confused and my kids would be hurt. But really, how long can we go on caring about everything? You can’t. I can’t. Not forever, eventually it will lead to a cycle of burnout. I’m convinced one of the main reasons we get depressed and overwhelmed as moms is that we don’t narrow down all of the options to the things we should actually care about. We need to free ourselves to narrow the scope of our caring. This is key to having the energy for the things in life that matter.
The way you narrow down all the possibilities and find the right scope for your energy is to identify your core personal values. This is a concept that has been around for awhile in life coaching where business and church leaders are working on personal development in order to maximize their capacity for leadership.
You know who needs to maximize their capacity for leadership?
As a mom you hold the key to the future. You may feel like no one sees everything you do, but your family does, and they love you for it and they need you like the earth needs the sun.
Where you are now
As moms living in the 21st century, we are constantly inundated with information. Which magazines and books should you read, which websites and stores should you buy from, which friends should you schedule playdates or MNOs (mom night outs) with? When you have a few minutes on your phone, which social media sites do you use and whose lives should you catch up on? Which news outlets or blogs will you read?
You need a filter.
We are blessed with a million opportunities, but without a filter the potential choices become a burden. When you identify your core personal values, they become that filter and will guide you in how to use your time, money, and mental and emotional energy.
We desperately long to be good moms, but we’re not sure what that means so we try to live up to everyone’s definition. When you discover your core values, then you know what it looks like for you to be the mom that you were meant to be, and you can receive new information with confidence through that filter, looking for tools that will empower you, and rejecting messages about what a successful mom looks like, when they don’t fit you.
Here are 6 amazing benefits of having identified your core personal values
1. You know how to prioritize your time and commitments
Once you’ve clarified your core personal values, discussed them with your husband, and established them as foundational truths for your family, decisions about time commitments become much easier, even fun, conversations.
My husband and I have a high value for an active lifestyle, getting outdoors, and quality time as a family. When our eldest showed an interest in baseball, we started him on a t-ball team and now we’re up to coach pitch. We went to most of his games as a family, my husband helped base coach, and I picnic-ed with the younger boys to keep them entertained. Organized sports is a considerable time commitment and as our other boys get older, we’re going to have reassess whether baseball is the best use of our time and energy as a family. It’s possible that our other interest such as camping and hiking, or other group activities such as Boy Scouts might be a better long term activity that we can participate in together, without having boys on multiple teams or even different sports.
2. You can make decisions
When you really identify your core values, you will have tapped into a powerful source of motivation. This will enable you to decide when to say yes or no, both to others and to yourself. Identifying financial independence as a core value empowers me to say no to some activities and yes to others, in a way that keeps us in our budget without guilt or insecurity in our decisions.
Additionally, identifying beauty, fitness, and adventure as long term core values for our family is giving me the extra push to stick to the lifestyle choices that I’ve identified are crucial for me to finish losing the baby weight from baby #4.
3. You can invest in the right relationships
All of the books I’ve read recently have convinced me that authentic relationships are the silver bullet of life. Meaningful relationship is the single most fundamental need we have as moms (and kids, and dads). You need to invest time in relationships – don’t live on an island. However, since time is precious because so much is taken up by our favorite little people, you must prioritize the relationships that you make time for.
On your list should be your kids, your husband, and some peers that share at least some of your values. Your peers need to be people you want to be like. You also should seek out relationships with older women who can be mentors, and younger women that you can invest in. While it’s hard to maintain all of these in the most intense seasons of young motherhood, think in terms of these categories, consider your values, and make sure to prioritize relationships that will rejuvenate and refresh you, both that pour into you and that you can pour into.
4. You can set goals
Our world is full of fun ideas and interesting challenges. How many times have you tried a trendy fitness goal or productivity strategy, only to let it fade a few months later? How did you feel about it?
Core personal values are the ideal foundation for personal short and long term goals that last and that will still matter to you after a fad has passed. Set goals in alignment with your values and they will weather all the storms of life, from fussy babies to rainy days to unexpected car expenses.
5. You can be confident in your lifestyle and accept your daily routine
If you’re at peace with your current schedule, then you can ignore the voices telling you to be different. If you’re desperate or hopeful for a change, you can set goals to get you to a new place, knowing that your goals are the right ones and that you have strong motivation fueled by your core values that will help you power through obstacles.
6. You can filter the messages from the world and from others
There is so much good information out there that can help us in so many ways to live better. But to find what is good and helpful for your family, without being overwhelmed, you need to use your values to prioritize your life, set appropriate goals, and accept your current lifestyle, at least for the moment. Then you can browse sites and social media platforms proactively for the info you’re looking for, to solve the problem that you know you have, that you want to solve. If you don’t follow this process, you’ll get inundated with all the problems that others want to give you so that they can give you their solution.
You can embrace the season. When you know what your values are, you can be encouraged that they are real and not forgotten when you have seasons of life where some may keep you from being able to live other as fully.
For me, I wanted a large family to take camping and have outdoor adventures with. I also want to feel fit and beautiful. In my life, in between being an adventurous newlywed, and being an adventurous family, has been 8 years of being pregnant, nursing and losing the baby weight only to find it again. Focusing on my core values allows me to embrace the current season, knowing that it is in line with my overall long term goals and values.
You have the wisdom you need to create a filter and a framework to empower you to manage your precious resources and opportunities in a way that blesses you and your family.
The piece you’re missing is not the next productivity strategy or how to establish a good morning routine. Those are fun and have their place. But first you need to know your Why.
Why do you do what you do? What is your purpose, what is your why? Identifying your core values will answer that question, and it is something only you can do by taking time to reflect on your life and asking yourself some powerful and strategic questions.
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