Core values in action

I have long been a fan of the core values exercise in @mikeschmitz’s Personal Retreat Handbook. When I did my first retreat in January 2019, I used it to define my core values. They’ve remained stable ever since. I’ve found them very helpful in planning out my 12-week year and setting goals and yearly themes. However, recently they proved valuable in making a much more consequential decision.

Last month I took an 18-day raft trip through the Grand Canyon. The trip itself was fantastic in every way: the river, the scenery, the people. More than that, it planted an idea in my brain; I wanted to do this sort of thing for a living.

Knowing my core values helped me understand why the idea of becoming a river guide had taken root. Without these guideposts, I could have written off this desire to uproot my life as a midlife crisis, pandemic fatigue, or the great resignation. But back in 2019, in response to the prompts in Mike’s handbook I’d written, “I am a teacher and a writer, a learner and a student, and a traveler and an outdoorsman.” Having externalized these made it obvious that being a river guide was much more in line with my core values than my 9-5 job.

Beyond helping me understand why I felt this way, knowing my core values also ultimately helped me make a decision. In the end, I felt like I would regret not giving it a try. Shortly after returning from the trip, I signed up for about a month’s worth of training and gave notice at my job. Today was actually my last day of regular work, though I’ll probably come back temporarily later in the summer to finish up some stuff and help with the transition.

Without knowing my core values, it would have taken me a lot longer to come to a decision, and I probably would have been a lot more angsty about it.


Good luck, and a lot of fun, in this new part of your life!

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Wow, that is awesome! Best of luck with the new venture!

Coincidently …

Easter Saturday I hiked, with eight friends, down to Phantom Ranch. Easter Sunday we hiked back up.

We saw a number of rafters. Could you have been one of them?

And a college friend of mine and his wife are on a rafting trip as I write this.


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@MevetS we were at Phantom Ranch on Friday April 15.

Hope you enjoyed your backpack!

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The very best of luck. What a brilliant move.

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Congrats @ChrisUpchurch! Sounds like a fun new adventure :slight_smile: Really cool to hear how the core values exercise helped you, thanks for sharing.

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My forum worlds may have just melded together. A similar story popped up on another forum I follow. Congrats!

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Will be interesting to know how your Tech requirements change for this new challenge, I bet you can’t get 3 studio displays on a raft :wink:


Funny you should mention that…

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I have to ask, @ChrisUpchurch, is being a river guide something you have experience with? As in, have you been an outdoors type guy for a while in such environments? Only asking out of interest and to applaud the change.

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Congratulations Chris, best of luck to you in this new career! Sounds good for the soul. Of course you will probably need some good gear to be safe and comfortable :slightly_smiling_face:

I have heard people describe the river like a Leonard Cohen album, as in “it’s the same on both sides”. Personally, I’ve always found Cohen both relaxing and educational too.


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I’ve always been a pretty outdoorsy guy. Done lots of hiking and backpacking, including over 300 miles in Grand Canyon. It’s specifically the river rafting part of this that’s new.


This is inspiring, Chris! Please keep sharing in this thread as you progress.

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Wonderful!!! I hope you chronicle this journey on your blog as you did for your rafting trip (linked above). Or maybe there is a book in the future?

Cheers. :tumbler_glass:


Definitely planning on blogging my experiences (that’s how I plan to fulfill the “writer” part of my core values).


This is so cool. May I ask what your current profession is/was?

I Look forward to hearing more about the change. Good reminder also to get my personal retreat on the calendar!


The 10-day river guide school I took finished last Thursday. I wrote a very lengthy blog post about my experience. Tomorrow I start Wilderness First Responder training.

I was a transportation planner for a Metropolitan Planning Organization.


Last week the Wilderness First Responder course finished up last week. There’s another (much shorter) blog post about that. Currently in the middle of a swiftwater rescue class. The class is great so far, but man does it wear you out.


One of my goals. I am a “water person”, already have my qualifications as rescue swimmer (teacher), licensed swimming trainer,… It’s very difficult to get a place in those courses (and several were cancelled), but I set my goal on the swift and whitewater rescue courses.

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I learned a ton in the swiftwater rescue course. The biggest benefit was probably getting a lot more comfortable swimming in whitewater. I didn’t expect that I’d have a chance to put that skill to the test so soon, but after the class, I rafted down Royal Gorge with some of the students, got dumped out, and had to swim a fairly big rapid. It’s all in the blog post.

Now I’m done with all the initial training it’s time to look for work. Wish me luck.