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.