Map Your Path to Success with Personal Values

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Imagine your life as a Google map. You open the app on your smartphone, and there you are, a blue beaming dot. You and 50 million other blue dots that you can’t see but you know are there, too. When you zoom out, you realize you have no idea where you are or where you’re going. For all you know, you’re in the wrong city … country ... or on the wrong continent. You look at your life only to realize that you’re completely lost.

So how do you get where you want to be?

A lot of people will go their entire life wondering this. It takes personal leadership to really dig in and decide what you stand for, and then navigate toward the life you want, and to fully live it.

If you’re not sure where to begin, start by identifying your Purpose Pillars to give your life direction. Your pillars, similar to a map, provide a solid foundation to direct your life. And your character is like a compass helping you to make the right decisions regardless of circumstance. Without it, life may feel aimless.

Everyone’s compass looks different because it’s a collection of values that make you, you. As an example, let me share what played a big part in developing my compass.

I was raised Catholic. My faith certainly provided guidance at critical points in my life, like when my mom passed away at age 10. It’s something I’m thankful for, as it helped me overcome this very uncertain time in my life, but as I grew older, it also felt illogical and surfaced more doubt than direction. I went on to explore other religions like Buddhism and New Age teachings. While I respect the doctrine and concepts they presented, neither connected the dots for me. That said, they did help me to develop faith in humanity and universal truths, and for that I am thankful.

And then, there’s my Dad. He’s the one I learned the most from. My Dad didn’t graduate from high school. He sold shoes, drove trucks, and worked in oil refineries. He served our country in WWII, raised seven kids after my mom died at a young age, and he made sure all of his kids graduated from college. The values he instilled in me through the example he set by simply living his life with integrity outweigh anything I ever learned in church, school, or business.

My Dad lived his life according to his values regardless of whether anyone was watching. I watched him do it. I was inspired at how he would navigate life's twists and turns. How he overcame obstacles and failures. How he remained true to who he was regardless of the external pressures he encountered. He was the first to tell you that he wasn’t perfect, and that’s what makes him perfect to me. It allows me to be human, too.

All of these experiences have helped develop my character, values, and Purpose Pillars. From my Catholic upbringing to what I learned by exploring other religions, and, above all, the impression my dad left on my life—these make up the compass that guides me every day.

Regardless of whether you follow a religion or have a role model, to create direction in your life, you need to define what matters to you and what makes you the unique being you are. Look at your life experiences: what stands out? What values have been a constant force (or do you want to establish as the force, right here, right now)?

Life is demanding, complex, noisy, but we all have the opportunity to gain control. Establish your values, define your character, and live purposefully. You’ll find that doing so will provide the foundational compass you need to help navigate the twists and turns of life, ultimately getting you to your destination. It won’t always be easy—and certainly not perfect—but it will be perfectly yours.

This story originally appeared in Thrive Global on February 13, 2019.