Feeling Lost? Anchor yourself to your values

I have a friend who’s been struggling with career options. She’s in the process of applying to graduate schools but can’t decide between schools. Her biggest worry? What will people think.

When I was struggling with choosing my next steps after graduate school, I felt lost. Like a leaf in the wind, I would go in any direction the breeze took me.

‘You’d be a great psychologist!’ someone said to me once. And so off I went, looking at psychology degrees.

‘Your calm nature would make you such a good surgeon,’ someone else said. Within moments, I was looking at medical school options.

As fun as that was, it was not sustainable. People around you giving advice based on what they think of you comes from a good place but isn’t sustainable in the long run. Each and every piece of advice is laced in bias. Perhaps the person giving it always wanted to go to medical school and didn’t get the chance. Perhaps they had a great experience with a psychologist and think you would be great at that role. Regardless, the intent is good, but the impact is not consistent.

So what to do?

The best solution I’ve found is to anchor yourself, not to other people’s opinions about your worth or your path or who you should be, but to your values.

Instead of looking left and right and thinking what will people say, focus inward. What are your values? It’s not an easy feat to distill your life’s purpose into a few words, but if you take some time and really hone in one 3 or 4 values and use them as a compass, your path will be a lot clearer.

For me, those are compassion, integrity, loyalty, and altruism.

When I’m faced with a decision now, big or small, I anchor myself with those values. I use them as a compass. Is the decision I’m about to make consistent with me being compassionate? Maintaining my integrity? Keeping me loyal? Making a positive difference? If the answer is yes, full steam ahead.

Anchor yourself to your values and not other people.

That’s why we anchor boats to a dock and not other boats.

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