Why writing a values list changed everything

Episode 19 of Turbitt & Duck: The Library Podcast was a flipped episode. Clare Thorpe interviewed Amy Walduck and I about resilience, values, theme songs and perfectionism.. I thoroughly enjoyed the conversation and being interviewed and surprised myself by talking about my “values list” and why it has changed the way I feel about myself, my decision making, anxiety and confidence.

Defining my personal values was hard (who thought making a list of what’s important to you could be difficult? not me!) and as I mention in the episode, my first couple of drafts were completely off the mark and very focused on what I thought people wanted me to value or what they saw in me. Some of the values were superficial and on reflection, didn’t hold any meaning for me. However, once those twenty two values were on paper, it felt right, to see how I feel about myself reflected back at me. I had my “who and why”. I’ve kept the list with me for several years now and it has played a big part in becoming more resilient and self-aware.

What’s the point of a list?

For me, the purpose of the list was to identify the values I live by and then use it as a tool to navigate life. Mine is a list because the format works for me but I’m sure there are many ways of capturing your values.

How do I use it? When faced with a difficult decision, I use it to trigger a conversation with myself around “why I am finding it hard to decide?, what is making me uncomfortable? Does the project, opportunity, person reflect my values?”.

I use it when I am stressed, anxious or falling into perfectionist behaviour. That’s when I say to myself “Stop. Look at the list. What’s not in alignment with these values? Am I doing the opposite? Where am I pushing to fit when I don’t? How can I change that?”.

Are you wondering what my personal values are?

Authenticity. Integrity. Independence. Enjoyment. Empathy. Originality. Curiosity. Strength. Good Health. Honesty. Decisiveness. Fun. Generosity. Fairness. Belonging. Stability. Openness. Enthusiasm. Thoughtfulness. Happiness. Consistency. Self-Expression.

I can honestly say that having this list that I can open on my phone and ponder whenever I need to, has made me happier, more resilient and able to get to the root of unhappiness, anxiety and frustration quickly. I don’t need to ramble around in my head for weeks trying to figure out why I’m struggling or whether I should be doing something, or why I keep on avoiding a task, the answer is there for me. Even though I’ll do my best to ignore it sometimes, I’m there on the screen.

Have you got a list of personal values? Do you think it makes decision making easier? Do you feel more resilient and capable?

 

 

The post conference thud

APLIC finished a few weeks ago but I’m just coming out of the other side of “post conference thud”. That feeling of spending several days absorbing new ideas and trying to connect them to your work as well as save them for future reference, talking until you lose your voice, meeting new people, re-connecting with friends and colleagues, not sleeping very well due to being totally wired and awake until the wee hours of the morning and the exhaustion that goes with being “on” for a week.

THUD.

And then you return home and go back to work and spend the first week post-conference picking up all the threads, restarting conversations and projects, finding where all the socks went at home and who is enrolling in what electives for next year and finding your “non-conference life” groove again.

THUD.

A couple of weeks after APLIC I was more exhausted and mentally wrung out. The thud became complete overwhelm and I was full of doubt – did I really do a “good job” at the conference? Was I useful as a state manager? Did I connect with enough people? Did people who complimented on the podcast really mean it? Did I go to the right sessions? Yes. I spiralled. Exhaustion rolls out the welcome mat for these thoughts – every single time.

At least I recognised how being tired + negative had joined forces and that what I really needed to do was give myself a big pat on the back and a large exuberant high five. But how?

Ask Twitter of course…

And as always, the answers were generous and kind:

And this reply from Lyndelle helped me to feel less alone with these thoughts.

So what now? I listened to all this advice and felt really motivated to make the ones that appealed to me actually happen. I made a ta-da list, and an achievement board, scheduled quiet time, spoke to friends who make me feel good, spent time with family doing things we love and took some time away from screens and everything online. I’ve also read a bit more than usual and spent more time outside. These are all things I know I should do, but they end up at the bottom of the list when the THUD happens. It’s a work in progress and each time I hit that low bit, I get a bit better at taking action and recognising the signs.

What do you do when you’re overwhelmed? How do you cope with the post-conference thud? I’d love to hear what you do.

3 lessons I’ve learnt about how to move from thinking to doing

How many times have you made the decision to start something new: write an abstract, start a new project, join a group or committee, start a blog, apply for a job, and then, nothing happens? It’s easy to convince yourself that the timing wasn’t right, or that it was too hard or you aren’t ready (hot tip: you’ll never be ready), we’ve all done that. When I’m stuck in that “I want to start but am caught in the headlights” position, I remind myself of these three points to force myself into action.

You will make mistakes

I’ve made a lot of mistakes, so have you. Lots and lots of mistakes. Each mistake has been an opportunity for reflection and to figure out how to fix it next time. Obviously I’ve ignored the opportunity to reflect sometimes, wallowed in my mistake and never tried again. Hasn’t everyone?

When you can recognise the learning opportunity that comes with mistakes, then you’re on to something. Find how to fix the mistake, document the process, tell someone you stuffed up and explain how you’ll do it better next time. If I had given up the first time I stuffed something up, well there would be no Turbitt in Turbitt & Duck. And probably no library degree hanging on my wall or…well you get the picture. We all make mistakes. Dare to be bad. And then keep going.

There is no gatekeeper, there is no gate.

You will never be ready

This has been written so many times before by many other people. You will never be ready. So you may as well take the first step, get started and make some mistakes. Apply for that job, ask someone to help you rewrite your resume, start that research, return to study, ask for a secondment, learn how to paint, start that zine, write the abstract.

There will never be the right time for any of these things so you may as well start now.

The starting is the hard bit for lots of people, particularly if you’re partial to procrastination and perfectionism. To you I say, the first version is going to be a bit shit, so you may as well get it out of your system.

You Aren’t Lazy – You’re Just Terrified: On Paralysis and Perfectionism.

Everything you need is within your reach

If you are starting a new project, wanting to know more about yourself, looking at a new field of study or research, wanting to find a buddy to start a podcast with, thinking about writing a conference abstract, everything you need is out there waiting for you.

And if you have a library qualification, you are more than capable of finding what you need to get started.

Reach out, ask for help, connect with people. Don’t be an island. Isolation is the dream killer so be loud and proud about what you’re doing. Turbitt & Duck came about because Amy and I shared our dreams and ideas with each other. I’ve wanted to start a podcast for a long time, but it took opening up to Amy who understood what I was rambling about to make it happen.

Sharing your plans, dreams or project may also give you the accountability that you need to keep going. If you’re worried about getting it “right”, refer to points 1 and 2. Take small steps if you need to, but just start.

Isolation is the dream killer.

What’s one thing you can do right now, one small step, that will start you moving towards your goal?