Today, I turn 27.
One year ago, I wrote my first medium article about my journey of self-exploration. The article has been viewed over 1000 times, and I’m super grateful for how many people resonated with the message.
I explained how one experience changed my entire life. I was catalyzed into a never-ending journey of growth. The work began the moment I wrote down my core values.
Curiosity = to never stop asking questions for the purpose of seeking knowledge
Spontaneity = to surrender myself to uncertainty when making decisions
Transparency = to choose with honest and clear intentions
Service = to give without selfish desire
Influence = to speak with integrity and understanding so that people have an opportunity to grow
There is so much fulfillment when you practice your values. After practicing these values for one year, I’ve learned that this is the number one practice we can do as human beings because it helps us get one step closer to living with purpose.
Here’s the truth about what I’ve learned:
1) Improving your ability to process an experience has exponential growth outcomes in your life
When we process an experience (or an event) in our life, we are actually processing the emotion or feeling connected to that experience. It’s these moments of processing that end up defining our entire lives.
My experience this year processing emotion has led me to a better state of openness and receptivity. I am able to be more vulnerable with myself and simultaneously feel confident to embrace new sensations of discomfort. This is because I am gradually improving my ability to process emotion.
A good metaphor to the ability to process an experience is like depositing money into a retirement account, which accrues interest over time. The earlier you invest money in your account, you will see a larger return in the future than if you were to invest money at a later date.
This is exactly the same as investing your time into developing your ability to process your experiences.
By being patient and compassionate with my process, I’ve realized how much more empathetic I can be towards others. I’ve realized how much growth I’ve been able to see in just one year.
Here’s the point: my one year from 26 to 27 has felt like five years of growth.
When we measure our time on this Earth by how much we accomplish or grow, then our self-worth is in relation to how we feel about our assumptions of growth.
We are constantly surrounded by other people’s timelines. We are constantly being pressured by how we think we should grow.
If you focus on processing your experiences in a productive way, you will see a return on investment much earlier in life. I feel like I’ve achieved five years of growth in one year.
2) Compartmentalization is the key to removing obstacles in life that stop you from growing
My most important tool for reducing anxiety and stress is compartmentalization.
I wouldn’t have made it through this year without developing a skill of being able to compartmentalize.
It’s our human nature to feel stressed. It happens. Over the course of this year, I went through everything. I broke. I was at one of the lowest points in my life. I experienced heartbreak, loneliness in moving to a new country, worry for my brother, and devastation hearing that my grandfather has Alzheimer’s.
I experienced all of the events at the same time. I didn’t think I could push through any of it. It was too much. It was too heavy. But then, I came to this idea of compartmentalization.
I realized that by breaking down the events that caused stress in my life into smaller and segregated pieces, I was able to fully and clearly recognize the source of the anxiety. The reason for my anxiety was not from the individual events, it was the combination of all stressful events in my life occurring at the same time.
This is how I practice compartmentalization in 5 steps:
Step 1: I break down what I am feeling. Label the feeling. Step 2: Attribute my feeling to a specific event in my life. Step 3: Visualize the full duration of my feeling from entering to exiting my body Step 4: Repeat Step 1 with a new event. Step 5: Separate every single event into its own life cycle. Each event has an origin and its end will come. Realize every feeling is temporary.
The more you practice compartmentalization, the better you get at breaking down the origin of your feelings. This is key. Make it your mission to know exactly the event (or experience) that is causing the anxiety.
Your strength will come from being able to see every event in your life 100% different from every other event in your life.
In the field of psychology, compartmentalization can be seen as a defense mechanism. However, it’s imperative when you are faced with anxiety and stress from conflicting values.
Conflicting values occurs when you are faced with two choices, which results in the decision conflicting with at least one value. For me, it was between service and transparency. I had to choose either to be a part of dishonesty or choose to not serve. My anxiety disappeared after I compartmentalized the realization that I will not be able to practice each value without a conflict.
Part of my practice is realizing that I cannot perfectly practice my values every time I do something. I emphasize the importance of separating events in our lives from the things that happen to us and the things that we do.
Compartmentalization has helped me have more self-acceptance because I can separate my feelings that come from the events out of my control.
3) There is nothing more powerful than knowing who you are
Imagine being simultaneously unaffected by external things while being open to external things that can help you grow.
Imagine that you can be unaffected from the bad and absorb all the good.
Imagine letting yourself be completely vulnerable in order to embrace discomfort.
Imagine being so brave that you have the opportunity to accept any outcome in life.
Practicing my values over the last year has given me the feedback I need to strengthen my sense of self. In fact, practicing my values has strengthened my awareness.
I am becoming a better version of myself because I am reflecting on who I am from practicing my values. In fact, my values are a combination of who I am and who I set out to be. I iteratively process the information and feedback from the outcomes of my value practice. I use my current values and ask myself, is this who I am? What tweaks do I need to make to further who I want to become?
When you are curious about who you are, you start to transform.
You transform yourself into an adaptable person who is aware of your surroundings so you can efficiently and dynamically show up in a way that is required and simultaneously, be 100% and completely you.
Knowing who you are is about not taking on thoughts and emotions that aren’t your own. It’s not taking responsibility and ownership for the words of other people. The power of knowing who you are comes from knowing exactly which part of life is yours to own.
Practicing your values is one step closer to developing your sense of self. Spend time developing your sense of self. Your awareness depends on it.
Your true power is knowing yourself so much so that you are never worried about the fear of compromising your self-worth.
My New Values
It’s time to change my values. I choose to change them because my journey to self-exploration is an iterative process. It requires realignment. It requires radical honesty and open-mindedness.
By establishing new values, I am not saying goodbye to my previous ones. Actually, I am building on them. I feel empowered to enhance my value practice because I’ve gathered new insights.
I am redefining new values in order to feel more connected to myself. After reflection, notetaking, and a few one-hour yoga sessions — here are the values that will now be at the forefront of my personal development:
Creativity = To practice sharing my own uniqueness in order to increase connection and belonging
Gratitude = To work towards being appreciative for what I have in order to remain in a joyful state of mind
Emotional Intelligence = To deeply understand my emotions and understand the emotions of others in order to manage change and setbacks
I want other people to develop a sense of purpose in their life. I want to tell you that living with a sense of purpose starts with practicing your values.
I only knew I needed to change my values because I practiced them. Treat your values like anything else in life, you need to train. You need to practice. When I plateaued, I reflected on what I’ve learned and then made a course change.
I am beyond excited to spend another year practicing these new values. You will find fulfilling life experiences just from writing down a few values and then living them. Trust me.
I spent a year practicing my values just so I can change them.