Self-Isolation: An Opportunity to Explore and Re-assess Values
As COVID-19 precautions continue to challenge us with some unexpected and wide-ranging restrictions, I find myself asking, “What is it that I really miss?” Is it the gym and the physical exercise I used to enjoy, or is it the connection with others? Is it the coffee shop I miss or is it the connection to community — and the comfort, intimacy, and warmth that I felt in that space? Does my worry about getting the virus outweigh the fear of my freedom being further restricted?
I believe that it’s only when experiences and things — including our health — are taken from us that we come to realize the true impact and importance of these things on our lives. But, when something is taken away, there is space; space for growth and for new experiences. We can choose to fill this space with resentment and resistance or with curiosity and a roadway leading toward personal development.
I view this time as a great opportunity to look within ourselves and explore our values. Once we reflect upon and confirm our values, we can fill this “space” by starting to mindfully live by them.
What are Values?
Tranquility. Status. Creativity. Peace. Intimacy. Money. A nice, big package of 3-ply toilet paper.
What am I talking about here? Values.
Our values are the things we believe are important in the way we live and work. They help us determine our priorities and act as guides for the decisions we make. When the things we do and the way we behave align with our values, we usually feel happy and content. If our values don’t align, things can feel “off” and we may feel dissatisfaction.
Often, we are so busy with the day-to-day operations of life that we rarely stop to think about what our values are, let alone determine if we are living by them. And if we’re not being true to our own values, whose values are we living? And, how might this be affecting our well-being?
How to Determine Your Values
Exploring our values. It sounds like an interesting and fun activity, but how do we do it? I’ve created some questions that may help you initiate the process. Ready?
- If you were told you were permanently restricted from doing certain things, what would be the 3 things that you would miss the most? What are the underlying values behind these activities, events, or experiences? For example, I would miss visiting my aging parents. Values? Family. Connection.
- How would you spend your time in an extended period of self-isolation? What are the underlying values associated with your selected activities? Through this exercise, you may find that you have strong values that you didn’t previously realize were important to you.
- What would be the first thing you would look forward to doing once the quarantine or self-isolation period was over? The key term here is “look forward to,” not to be confused with “need to” — like stocking up on more 3-ply toilet paper.
When doing this activity, it helps to have a good list of personal values as it can be rather difficult to come up with them off the top of your head. “Live Bold and Bloom”, a website devoted to self-improvement blog posts, offers a helpful and extensive list here.
Virus or no virus, we still have control over important parts of our lives. I hope that we all emerge on the other side of this pandemic having a better understanding of what matters to us, what our most important values are, and that we’re able to align these with who we are, what we do, and where we want to go in the future.
While we all adapt to ever-changing restrictions, live your life in a way that makes you proud and fulfilled, knowing you’ve done the best you can while being faithful to your core values.
Fanie Zis is a Certified Life Coach and Career Development Practitioner based in Vancouver, British Columbia. She works as a Contract Service Provider for Homewood Health’s Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP). Fanie practices in the areas of Career Coaching, Career Counselling, Relationship Coaching, Grief and Loss Counselling, Stress Management, and Pre-retirement Planning. She is currently working towards her accreditation as a Professional Certified Coach through the International Coach Federation (ICF).