Struggles – the moments of meaning

Today is about values and how they can empower us. More specifically about the impact that writing about our own values can have and the long term benefits that a 10 minute writing session can bring to our life.

Recently I read an article by James Clear on a method that helps us deal with a stressful and busy schedule. The article talks about the value on writing about our own values and quotes research published in several books like The Upside of Stress by Stanford professor Kelly McGonigal.

Researchers believe that one core reason for this [writing about your values delivers incredible benefits] is that journaling about your personal values and connecting them to the events in your life helps to reveal the meaning behind stressful events in your life. Sure, taking care of your family or working long hours on a project can be draining, but if you know why these actions are important to you, then you are much better equipped to handle that stress.

Simply by consciously connecting the difficult moments and struggles we go through to the why we go through them. In other words, staying aware of what goals these struggles will lead us to and what values we connect to those goals converts those difficulties and stresses into moments of meaning and appreciation.

The client

I want to both apply this method for myself in this article and also share how I have come to a similar conclusion.

Recently I had a client enquiring about doing work together on a project. I made a detailed analysis and explained how I can help them and what problems I can solve. This analysis was of course part of my own time without any payments or commitment from the client. It was a way to prove to them that I know what I am doing and that I can deliver value to them.

The potential client was really happy with my analysis and decided to go forward, but before that they requested my portfolio to see work that I have done. I sent it and few days late received a response. They told me that they don’t feel confident that I can do the work they need because they can’t see similar examples in my portfolio.

Logic.

My first reaction was of disbelief and a bit of irritation. I had proven my professionalism by doing the analysis for them (something you can’t fake if you don’t know what you are doing) and they were very satisfied with it. Then suddenly it wasn’t enough. Even though I described a step by step process of what will happen, how I will improve things they were telling me I didn’t know what I am doing.

My second reaction was to calm down. I told myself that the client has the right to choose who to do work with. I went on and decided to trust my gut feeling, to keep to my authenticity and be honest with them. I was determined to sustain my self-respect and also make sure that they get what they want. Writing back I explained that the portfolio’s purpose was the demonstrate a range of skills rather than target only a specific sets of projects, but that I understand their concerns. I told them that I do not work just to get money, but I want my clients to be happy and I want them (this one in particular) to also receive what they are looking for. So my suggestion was that they can take the analysis I did and take it to someone else who they believe was more capable of delivering the right solution. That way we would both win, we wouldn’t loose each other’s time, they will get what they want and I would be able to focus on clients that I can actually help.

This is the approach I take with all my clients. My time and efforts are limited, so they should be dedicated to the work where most impact will be made.

The client wrote back saying they want to go ahead with the project.

Summary

Standing behind your values doesn’t mean you need to be aggressive. It means to know what they are and to respectfully nurture and guard them. You don’t need to make compromises. In the same way as learning words from a foreign language – seeing the words in different contexts helps you remember them – likewise consciously connecting events in your life with the values you have can engrain those values even deeper.

What events did occur in your life that you struggled with, late nights, exhausting projects, etc.? How do they connect to your values? Take 10 mins and write down a paragraph.

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