As a parent, we always want to teach and guide our children to do the right thing. We use our own life experiences, the challenges we’ve faced, and the lessons we’ve learned along the way to influence our son or daughter’s growth. This guidance helps form our child’s values, and will help build a life of integrity, happiness and success.

As children grow into young adults, their values begin to change. There can be a number of reasons for this, ranging from adhering to expectations of parents or teachers, the pressures of school work, or fitting in with friends. This shift in perception changes their innocent nature, and begins to erase their eagerness and curiosity for life. They go from knowing and doing exactly what they love, to seeing that the world around them is disclosing that maybe their thinking has been all wrong.

These changes begin with education. We’re told to focus all of our time and energy in the area where we are weakest, rather than looking at what we’re naturally good at, and build on that. Our system puts limits on how teachers can teach and students learn. Enter the birth of standardized testing. A once-size-fits-all approach, leaving no room for creativity, innovation or imagination.

Trying to “fix” our shortcomings, happens most often when playing sports. We want our children to be gifted and talented, and when they clearly are not, we want them to work harder, play harder, spending all their free time to improve, so they will become the next all-star. They try more, practice more, and will see some improvement, but if what they’re playing is not aligned with their true talents and abilities, and passion for the game, the child will end up just coasting and pleasing, in order to fit in, and be accepted.

What if we tried to find our natural gifts and talents and spent more time doing that? That’s exactly what this junior in high school, Haley, did. Haley participated in high-school sports, coasting along and was getting by, but felt uninspired. She went from one sport to another trying to find her niche. It was when she (with the support and encouragement of her parents) drew tired of this routine and wanted to try something new, and she turned to music. She uncovered a natural talent for songwriting, as well as singing and playing guitar. She was able to attend a private after-school program supporting her passion. Haley spent her senior year in high school, not struggling to fit in at something that didn’t resonate with her, but enjoyed singing and playing in a band, writing her own music, while playing at different gigs and having fun! She was accepted into Berkeley School of Music and is enjoying all the wonderful life experiences of her new journey. Had Haley continued on the path of fitting in and focusing on what was wrong, she never would have realized her true talent for music.

This is a strong reminder that when we lose our way and inherit other people’s values, including our parents, grandparents, teachers, siblings, etc., at the very best, we get to play it safe, do what we’re told, and hope to be happy.

Unfortunately, this leads to loss of self-confidence, self-esteem, and a host of other happiness robbers. We live a life being guided by everyone except our self, leaving us powerless, feeling unfulfilled, bored, and drained.
Getting a Wake-Up Call alarm clock

The good news is if you live according to what other people want vs. what you want, eventually, you will realize the ladder you were climbing was the wrong one. It may not happen as early as your junior year in high school, but it will happen. You’ll realize the illusion of living a phony life, through your negative emotions, showing up as sadness, angry outlook, and unhappiness. If you’re lucky, you may receive your first wake-up call. A wake-up call is an unforeseen event that will show up in the form of a job layoff, an illness or accident, or a broken relationship. The point in your life that requires you make a change whether you want to or not.

My personal wake-up calls showed up as a cancer diagnosis, auto- immune attacks, and a car accident. Each time I encountered my wake-up call, it was like a loud horn calling me to change direction, shift my awareness, and take inventory of what I was doing. I questioned the “what” and “why’s” in my life and if they were supporting me or just feeding my need to please, to fit in.

Knowing our values and incorporating them in our everyday life, gives us clarity in the choices we make and the path we take. Try doing a values-check exercise. List your values on a piece of paper, and then ask a spouse, a parent, or a close friend to list their values. Check in with your values against theirs, and ask yourself: “Who’s values am I living? Are these my values or have I inherited my mother’s, father’s, spouse or friend’s values?

We all know the most important thing in life is to be Happy! When we are not happy, we are not living. Happiness is our birthright.

Start looking at what you value and what is important to you, and ask the question, whose values am I living?

Author's Bio: 

Donna Markussen of Your Inspired Truth, is a Certified Passion Test Facilitator, Personal Success Coach and has a passion for helping others tap into their truth, living in full alignment with their soul's purpose. Offering one-on-one guidance, workshops, classes for adults, teens and young adults.