Living a Value-Aligned Life

Carrie Mead, MS | Certified Life Coach | 443.951.3986

Core values

Each of us are unique in so many ways. Some qualities are concrete and noticeable like having a bright red hair or a boisterous laugh or an innate fondness for astrology.  But some qualities are hidden, mysterious and less easy to quantify.  Our value system falls into this latter category. Our core values are a huge part of who we are.  They also affect how we operate in the world and how others relate to us.  It’s important to know that your core values are influencing your everyday life, whether you know it or not. Because your values impact your decision making, it is wise to give some conscious attention to your core values.

Core Values influence our decisions

Decisions, Decisions

Perhaps you have never considered how you make decisions.  I had not given this topic much thought before I began studying psychology years ago. But think about it honestly. You make choices all day long – at work, at home, and all the hours in between. Some decisions are big such deciding whether to accept a marriage proposal or to move across the country for a new job.  But most decisions are small, and they may seem inconsequential.  Throughout each day, you determine between spending or saving money; being honest or telling a lie; exercising daily or giving into your cravings for TV and popcorn.    

Decisions are made both consciously and subconsciously and they are often guided by past experiences, your mood-state and your values.  You may think that your decisions are simply made by following sound advice and a little bit of intuition but that is not the whole truth. In reality, we operate under our own ethical and moral codes and these are formed by our core values. 

What are Core Values and Core Beliefs?

The Basics

Core values and beliefs are formed in childhood. We often learn them from the language, behaviors, and attitudes that we observed in our caregivers, culture and our community at large. In addition to helping us make important decisions, core values also help us to determine what is acceptable or unacceptable behavior from ourselves or others.

Maybe your parents made charitable giving a regular part of their weekly routine and therefore service and faith are important to you. Or maybe your mom was a marathon runner and she spoke frequently about the benefits of exercise.  Or, perhaps, your grandfather was Chief of Police and so honesty, integrity, and commitment lay the foundation of your inner-being. These examples give you glimpses of how your values are formed.

Although our values are formed in childhood, they often change as we mature and have more life experiences. It is, therefore, helpful to revisit core value exercises several times throughout your lifetime to measure growth and stability. I like to do this exercise yearly and I venture to say that everyone can benefit from reevaluating their priorities and life goals following the health pandemic and lingering trauma caused by COVID19.

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Top Values

You will have many values, morals and ethics that guide you through life, but you will only have about three top values. Top values are ‘non-negotiable’. In other words, if you can live without this value, it is not a top value.

For example, if you love to exercise and consider yourself health- conscious but find that you are often making excuses to do something else with your time, then it is likely that health is not a top value. You value it, but it does not make the cut in real terms.  Likewise, if you believe in God but rarely attend your place of worship, read faith-based books or pray to your God, faith is unlikely to score as a top value.

However, if after completing the exercises below, you discover a discrepancy such as this – that is, that you highly value something which is not showing up in your life in a meaningful way- than you need to readjust yourself to create a value-aligned life.

Finding yourself and realigning with your truth

Discovering your Core Values

Perhaps you have been lucky enough to have taken a core values assessment online, or you have discovered your values through a team building exercise at work, or you addressed them in a therapy session. If so, consider this a review. However, most people have not looked deeply at their value systems before. Either way, our values can change over time depending on our age, experiences in life and the knowledge we gain along the way.

So, if you are curious about your values, take a minute to think about the last time someone ‘wronged’ you or think about the last time you felt a strong emotion (either negative or positive).  Maybe someone blatantly lied to you and cut them out of your life as a result; or you saw an emotional news story and then you decided to make an anonymous donation to their cause; or you witnessed a random act of kindness that sincerely touched your heart and inspired a change in your life.  These types of experiences can give us clues about our core values

There are many more ways to uncover your core values and below I have provided some ideas to get you started on this self-discovery journey.

Carrie Mead, MS | Life Coach and Therapist | Curiosity Life Coaching

Exercise One:

Contemplate, journal, and reflect on your answers to the questions below. This will give you some clarity on what values are important to you today… remember, these might have changed since your college days or pre-COVID19 life.

  1. Recall 2-3 transformative experiences that you have had in your life.  Write down the details of what led you to the experience, your thoughts, and feelings during and after the experience and what you learned or felt as a result.  Think deeply about what makes this a transformative experience in your life. 

For example, you may recall delivering a key -note speech at your company’s annual symposium and from that experience you may conclude that personal growth, adventure and career prosperity are important to you.  Likewise, you may be drawn to the experience of watching your baby learn to talk and walk in which case compassion, autonomy and family connections may emerge as top values. Or, you may recall the first time you fully understood and believed in your faith.

Whatever experiences resonate as memorable and life-changing will provide you with personal insight about your value system.

  • Think of people you admire or with whom you feel deeply connected. These can be famous historians like Abraham Lincoln or Rosa Parks, or they can be teachers, bosses or family members. Identify what you admire about these people. Is it their careers, their compassion, or the way in which you felt validated and loved by them? Again, you will glean self-awareness and insight about your core beliefs by noticing who you admire.
  •  Identify people or events that were negative influences on you or your life. Through our most difficult interactions we can often identify what is most important to us. For example, if your business partner conned you out of money during a major business transaction, you may learn that honesty, integrity, and loyalty are your top values.  If you witnessed domestic violence in your childhood home, you may identify with the values of peace and safety. 
Discover your Core Values through reflection and self-discovery

Exercise Two:

In this exercise, you will start by reading a list of common core values.  From there you will start to highlight those values which most resonate with you.  Bear in mind, that there are as many different core values available to us as there are stars in the sky.  Below is just a small sample  core values.  For a more complete list, follow this link.

Step 1:  Read this full list once or twice. Just read the words and contemplate each word with its meaning to you.

AbundanceAutonomyCreativity
ContributionCommitmentConnection
FaithFitnessFinancial Health
GrowthHonestyIntegrity
KindnessJoyLaughter
MercyMotivationPhysical Health
PurposeSexualitySpirituality
Self-ControlSelfWealth

Step 2: Highlight any words that resonate with you.  Do not overthink it, just tune into your intuition and highlight values that stand out to you.  The next step is to group your values together into a few sub-categories.  For example, from the list I provided, your groups might look like this:

Physical HealthFaithJoy
FitnessMercyLaughter
 Spirituality 

Step 3: Identify what does not resonate. As you parse your list into sub-categories, you will notice that some topics do not resonate at all. In this example the subset regarding money (i.e. Wealth, Abundance, and Financial Health) did not make the cut. 

Step 4: With your parsed list, identify one word from each sub-category that most represents your beliefs. Your final list of core values should include 3-4 top values as below.

 Physical HealthFaithJoy
FitnessMercyLaughter
 Spirituality 

 Step 5: Take time to define each of these values for yourself. Write a definition that makes sense to you.

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Now What?

You are now aware of your top core values, but now what do you do with this information? My suggestions are to assess how your values are influencing your current decisions, behaviors and attitudes. Are you practicing your top values daily or are they just an after-thought? If you are misaligned with your values, you notice that your mood is anxious or unstable, that you are experiencing difficulties with relationships or even physical health issues such as migraines, insomnia, or back pain.

If you are unsure how aligned your life is with your values, try this simple exercise:

  1. Assume your top value is Health. Now, review your past month.  Have you been attending to and prioritizing your health?  Have you been going to the gym regularly, getting enough sleep, eating your vegetables, and reducing your alcohol consumption?
    1. If you answer yes- you are living a valued-aligned life.
    1. If you answer no- you are out of alignment.

Self-awareness is the first step to any change.  Next, identify what obstacles and challenges you face in this area. Once you have identified the challenges, fine some solutions to these issues.  For example, if you are only averaging 5 hours of sleep per night, why is this?  Too much screen time? A newborn?  Overeating?  Then strategize to overcome these challenges. Maybe that means cutting off screens by 9.30pm or eliminating alcohol 5 days per week. You decide. Then commit to change.

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The Benefits

Why bother going through all this effort if there is no return on investment?  Rest assured, there is a great ROI if you choose to live a value-aligned life. Just try it for yourself. I find this is always the best option! 

What you will notice is that your overall stress level reduces.  Your life will feel more at ease and the little hurdles and set-backs will be more easily overcome. You will feel more inner-peace, more motivation and your relationship with yourself and others will improve.

I also notice that my own opportunities in life increase when I am living in my values.  The more aligned you are, the more people (think employment opportunities, potential mates, new friends) will be attracted to you simply because of your presence.  Again, you need to try this for yourself.  

Curious? Just ask.  As a professional life coach and psychotherapist, I love helping people, just like you, learn to live a value-aligned life.


Carrie Mead, MS is a Professional Life Coach, Psychotherapist, and Reiki practitioner based in Maryland.  Carrie provides guidance, support and empowering exercises to help her clients redefine and enact on their life’s mission following a major life transition. Connecting authentically and compassionately forms the basis of all of Carrie’s personal and professional relationships. Carrie holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling from McDaniel College and a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Gettysburg College. Carrie is a licensed mental health therapist in the state of Maryland and Certified Seasons of Change Coach. Learn more at www.curiositylifecoaching.com  .

HOW TO HEAL AND FIND HOPE FROM GRIEF

Carrie Mead, MS, LCPC
Baltimore, Maryland
Life Coach, Reiki and Mental Health Therapy for Depression, Anxiety, PTSD and EFT Tapping
443.951.3968
Stages of Grief

As a psychotherapist and certified life coach I have accompanied many people on their journey’s through the messiness of life.  Some people reach out to me in the immediate aftermath of a tragedy while others wait decades to seek healing from the grief of childhood atrocities.  I always aim to be present, empathetic, and supportive to my clients no matter what they are facing.  Like many helpers and healers, I am a wounded healer, so relating to people in the depths of despair is quite natural for me.  However, as I observe the events around racial and social injustices in America unfold, I find myself at a loss for words and understanding. I wonder how we will heal from this grief.

By now we all know the stories of people like Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd. Their combined hashtags on Instagram alone reach almost 3,000,000 and growing by the hour.  I observe in horror, like most Americans, the disgrace and injustices betrayed upon these black men, and countless others, at the hands of a merciless few and yet I have no idea how to proceed. I have no idea how to make a sustainable impact on our society, our leaders, our communities, or our collective unconscious in these turbulent and unjust times.

Continue reading “HOW TO HEAL AND FIND HOPE FROM GRIEF”

Should I Stay or Should I Go? Use Discernment in Your Marriage.

Should I stay Married or get Divorced?
Carrie Mead, MS, LCPC 443.951.3986
Book a life coaching or counseling session now: 443.951.3986

Discernment is defined as the ability to judge well.  This is a beautiful and simple definition of an elegant term. It is clear and precise. It is impossible to be confused about what it means to use discernment with a definition like this. However, when your marriage or partnership is on the rocks, you will feel anything but clear and precise about the unspoken decisions you need to make. Divorce is emotionally, spiritually, and financially painful and, like most people, you will want to avoid this all costs.

Continue reading “Should I Stay or Should I Go? Use Discernment in Your Marriage.”

Navigating the Seasons of Life

Using the seasons as a guide when you are in the midst of a major life transition

Life Coaching and Counseling 
Carrie Mead, MS, LCPC
Life Coach, Therapist, Reiki
443.951.3986
Carrie Mead, MS
Transitions Coach & Reiki Practitioner
Carroll County, MD, USA

the seasons of life

At times, life is tough and at times, it is absolutely perfect.  Have you ever noticed the ebb and flow of the seasons of your own life?  There are times the stars align and everything you desire comes into fruition- a pay increase, a new romance, the perfect puppy… all at once.  You sit back and wonder how you got so lucky. You bask in the sunlight and abundance that life has afforded you. You keep working hard and enjoying the ride. You have a great work ethic and your friends know that they can count on you.  Life is good.  But we all know that’s not the whole story. Stress and anxiety are part of life too. But for now, let’s bask in the glory of the summer sun.

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Were You Part of Divorce Day 2020?

Carrie Mead, MS, LCPC | Life Coach & Psychotherapist

If you are currently in a troubled marriage, you may have typed the term “divorce” into your internet browser recently. If so, you are not alone.  According to media outlets like the New York Times [1] and the London Evening Standard [2], search terms such as “how do I get divorced” peak and trend at various points throughout the year.  It is no surprise that early January, or the first Monday back to work in January to be exact, is one of the most popular days to search for answers about the legalities and formalities of getting divorced. This term also peaks in March. Most experts surmise that by March, people have gathered their information and made their decisions on whether or not to begin a divorce proceeding. So, will you be part of Divorce Day 2020?

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NEED HELP WITH YOUR STRATEGIC DECISION-MAKING SKILLS?

Have you ever had a difficult time making a decision? Perhaps you have rushed into a decision and then regretted it either instantly or months later. Maybe you are so indecisive that decisions simply never get made and you are left feeling stuck in your situation. Maybe you have made decisions that were in direct conflict with your long-term goals or vision for your life. With the countless decisions you have made in your life, have you ever stopped and wondered how these past decisions have impacted the trajectory of your life?

impulsive vs. indecisive

Continue reading “NEED HELP WITH YOUR STRATEGIC DECISION-MAKING SKILLS?”

The benefits of certified life coaching? Peace, Joy & Success.

We all go through periods of time when we could benefit from some wise, objective, and thoughtful support to reach our goals.  Friends and family can be great for offering advice, but life coaching isn’t about advice-giving.  Life coaching is about empowering you to identify your desires, set your intentions and then, of course, achieve your goals.  

Continue reading “The benefits of certified life coaching? Peace, Joy & Success.”

Do I need a life coach or a therapist?

Carrie Mead, MS
Transitions Life Coach
Curiosity Life Coaching

As a psychotherapist and life coach, people always ask me the difference between my two roles. People are always curious about what I do. They are also want to know how to discern what they need. Basically, is  their problem coachable or therapeutic in nature?

So, with this blog, I want to address frequently asked questions about the differences between psychotherapy and life coaching. It’s not uncommon for people to confuse these two professions and to be sure, similarities do exist. However, these professions are not interchangeable. These waters can become even murkier as many counselors, like me, are practicing as both licensed counselors and life coaches. However, when you a hire a coach with a Masters in Counseling, like me, you can rest assured that the foundation of our work together is rooted in my innate understanding of the human psyche.

It’s important to note that as a potential client, you are not expected to know exactly what you need. As a trained professional, I am here to guide you to the right service based on your needs, capabilities, and desires. That is where my expertise comes in. In any event, it’s still important to be an informed consumer so I have laid out this simple bullet points to help guide you through the decision making process.

differences between counseling and coaching

  • Coaching sessions are focused on the agenda set by client
  • Coaching is action oriented and results driven
  • Coaching takes place in the here and now, not in the past
  • Coaching assumes that you are resilient, strong, capable and healthy
  • Coaching focuses on aligning your strengths with your stated goals
  • Coaching assumes that you are the expert of your own life purpose
  • Coaching is a collaborative process
  • Coaching is credentialed in many different ways by many governing bodies but in reality, no certification or credential is required to call oneself a coach
  • Coaching can take place by phone, video or in person across the USA or worldwide

VS

  • Therapy is process oriented
  • Therapy focuses on emotions, behaviors and thoughts and the root of these feelings
  • Therapy helps the client relate current situations to past traumas or learned experiences
  • Therapy assesses for and diagnoses mental health disorders
  • Therapy provides treatement for mental health disorders
  • Therapists are trained at the Masters Level and are required to be licensed by their state in almost every state in the USA. Each state has their own regulation and reqirements, all are rigourous to ensure client safety
  • Therapy is often considered “medically necessary” and is covered by health insurance
  • Therapy is a medical model which is governed by the laws of HIPAA
  • Therapy can only take place in person or by secure video; most therapy laws prohibit the use of many technologies
  • The therapist is often considered the expert within the relationship
  • The practice of therapy or counseling is regulated by the state board in each state across the USA. A therapist may only practice or do counseling with a client who is located in the state in which the therapist is licensed.

similarities between counseling and coaching:

  • Both professions require specialized trainings, certifications, course work, internships and in-vivo field practice
  • Both professions have the same inherent goal of assisting clients create fulfilling lives
  • Both coaches and therapists are highly trained, empathetic, and intelligent
  • Both professions recognize and honor that each person is different and that there is no ‘one size fits all’ recipe for healing and success
  • Both professions adhere to ethical guidelines which foster safety within the relationship

It’s the job of the coach to help you, the client, understand these differences so that you choose the appropriate service for your needs. As the consumer, you are entitled to understand what coaching is, and is not, so that you can knowledgeably enter the coaching contract. In traditional psychotherapy, we would make this part of the informed consent process. A thorough initial phone call or video call should include: establishing rapport, assessing your readiness for coaching and explaining the limitations of coaching.

It’s my belief that both coaching and therapy are vital and helpful services for many people. There is no ‘better’ or ‘less than’ helping profession. It’s actually this diversity which allows us to have access to the services we need most at a particular time in life.

If you would like to explore the possibility of life coaching or counselling with me, please set up an appointment here. I provide mental health therapy in the state of Maryland only and you can find out more about my counseling philosophy here.

Carrie Mead, MS is a Professional Life Coach, Psychotherapist, and Reiki practitioner based in Maryland. Carrie created Curiosity Life Coaching to help men and women successfully navigate major life transitions such as retirement, divorce, career changes, and loss. Carrie provides guidance, support and empowering exercises to help her clients redefine and enact on their life’s mission following a major life transition. Connecting authentically and compassionately forms the basis of all of Carrie’s personal and professional relationships. Carrie holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling from McDaniel College and a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Gettysburg College. Learn more by visiting www.curiositylifecoaching.com

“Just as the boat is guided to shore by careful planning, following the map and visualizing the light house, we too must have these tools to reach our goals. Without preparation, planning and a vision of the future we are just afloat in the sea at the mercy of the winds”

Carrie Mead, MS, LCPC
Curiosity Life Coaching