Values, Meaning, Stories, Memories, Purpose, Passion, Self awareness

Filling My Space

Leigh Johnson | 28 October 2021

"Values are like lighthouses; they are signals giving us direction, meaning, and purpose". 



The process of understanding our values is an essential one if we are to move in the direction of our deepest purpose and live out our biggest impact and potential.


One often overlooked method of uncovering these values is to look at the things with which we surround ourselves - and this was the basis of a drawing exercise performed this week in our Equinox  Morning Routine.

In looking around our homes, cupboards, desks, shelves, even our garages, we encounter a myriad of things that form the detritus of our lives. And it is these that can guide us to understanding our deepest values. The questions that provide this guidance include: What are the objects and items that I attach value to? Why is this object something that I have kept, something that has found its way into my space? What do I remember when I look at this object? What does this thing symbolise for me?


This exploration is especially meaningful if we look at the things that have little or no monetary value to us: the chipped bowl from a treasured grandparent, an old ornament from someone special, a medal from a race, even a ticket stub from an event from many years ago. It is not these things that are important to us, but rather the associated stories and meaning we attach to them. Look deeply at why you are keeping and holding onto these things.

They reveal your values in a way that is often incredibly revealing.


For example, a handmade gift from someone might represent connection, community, togetherness and love for you – because of the feelings and stories you have attached to it and your relationship with the person who gave it to you. Or it might represent achievement, acknowledgement, and esteem because of the reason it was given to you – you may have received it when you reached one of your ambitions. In these examples, it is clear that the meaning YOU attach, you REASON for valuing this object is what will give you clues as to your own values.


An additional example could be a bicycle. For one person, the reason they value it could be because it reminds them of cycling a race many years ago with their mother who has passed away and so it may indicate family or relationships are a value of that person. For another person, it may represent freedom, travel and exploration due to what it enables that person to do. And for yet another person, it reveals values of health and physical fitness due to what it does for their physical body.

The invitation, when looking around us at the spaces we occupy, is to explore the stories told by the objects in our space.


And, a word of caution for the hoarders amongst us: you may find that there is no story attached or the story is no longer important to you and you’re simply keeping these things in your space out of habit. And that, dear readers, is a story for another blog! (Think: letting go, decluttering, making space…).


Once we have looked at a few of our possessions, we can then draw out some common themes. Are there recurrent reasons for the importance of these things to you? What are the words and feelings that keep coming up. These are the clues that can lead you towards uncovering your values – those few things that you value most.


Why is it important to know what our values are? Simply because our values are the signposts towards us doing what will light us up, what will fulfil us and what will enable us to work with passion, momentum and focus. When we know our values are, we seek experiences, jobs, opportunities in line with that and are then able to put our whole being into that. We are able to live on purpose.


And, something that is key to realise, is that values change…

What we valued when we were younger may very well change as we grow older. Our life circumstances change, we mature, and the journey of life itself teaches us many truths about what we think is important, and what really is! So exploring our values should be an ongoing exercise. It is the process of always being open, always asking why? Why is this important to me? Why do I want this? Why am I attaching meaning to this? Is this still valuable to me?


And then being willing to be surprised by the answer and to let go of our attachment to that value if it no longer fits who we are deep down inside…  


Author: Leigh Johnson