The importance of having values and a vision
Many people are currently living with depression without even realising it. I lived like that for ten years before I released what it was. It took a major disaster for me to make that connection. It started when I was sixteen and came about so slowly that I had no idea. I thought I was just “growing up”.
I was aware that something was wrong though. In the two years before I was finally diagnosed I made a huge effort to make changes in my life. I cut off all contact with my ex boyfriend. I moved out and got my own flat. I finally passed my driving test. I focused on my writing and developing my career. I cut off toxic relationships with old friends. And I tried my best at work so that I could leave my dads company knowing he would be ok without me.
But after all that hard work it all came crashing down. The company took a turn for the worst and bankruptcy came too close for comfort. It was breaking point. I had to move back home because I couldn’t be sure if my next pay cheque was coming. My car broke down and I couldn’t afford to get it fixed. I had to give up my cats and find another home for them. And I thought my family would lose everything. I was devastated. I’d lost everything I’d worked so hard for, and things were much much worse than they were before. I struggled to find a reason for carrying on. This is when my symptoms exacerbated, and I finally acknowledged there was something wrong. I needed to get help if we were to have any chance of making it through.
I started a board on pinterest where I saved hundreds of quotes about happiness and optimism. This soon developed into a vision board. I found it helpful to focus on the future and what it might look like one day. Ok, so I developed an unhealthy obsession with it (it currently holds 798 pins, and it grows by the day). But by searching for things that made me happy, I developed a better understanding of what it was that I valued. And I saw the contrast between what I really wanted and how I was living my life. I didn’t curate this board, I added anything and everything to it that excited me or made me feel at peace. It became my blueprint for life, and the basis for this blog.
Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t based my life around a pinterest board. It was just a jumping off point. It led me down all sorts of roads of exploration. It introduced me to mindfulness and minimalism. It showed me that what I wanted was to feel strong and healthy, not to look good in a bikini. It showed me I was neglecting areas of my life that were far more important to my wellbeing and my future.
And it did this because it served as a mind dump for things I felt drawn to. Revealing to me things I didn’t know about myself. At the time it was a focus point. Something for me to go back to whenever I felt I was becoming overwhelmed or feeling down. Because of this I was only thinking about what made me happy. I wasn’t basing it on how I thought my life should be or what other people would expect of me. I was brain storming what I thought would make me happy.
And there were so many duplicates. Tonnes of photos of nature and people hiking and camping. Tonnes of photos of animals. Quotes about simplicity and compassion and freedom and self love. Travel, baking, health and exercise, yoga, sunday mornings, breakfast in bed. Simple things. Things that didn’t cost the earth, wouldn’t take much time and that I could do right now, without making any big changes. These weren’t goals to work for that I could achieve in 6 months time if I tried my hardest. I could do them this evening, or at the weekend.
And then the magic happened. Because my vision changed, my goals changed. My goals became what can I do today that would make me happy. What are the best things that have happened today? What am I grateful for right now? What am I proud of myself for? What is missing in my life right now? And ultimately, how can I change my life right now to create a better day. Those days turned into weeks and months and I discovered that I was living a life I loved. I was still living at home, the business was better but on thin ice, nothing had changed on that front. And yet I was enjoying life. Not every day was good, it wasn’t an overnight cure. Depression was still hanging over me. But I was able to take great comfort and joy in the little things, and it made all the difference.
If you focus on values instead of never ending to do lists, life becomes simpler. Focusing on living up to your values is easier to achieve, no matter how your feeling. Because it only has to be something small. My values are health, simplicity, creativity, relationships and fun.
Looking at my day today for example. To be more healthy I completed my wellness questionnaire to see how i’m feeling. I’ve also made an effort to drink lots of water. For simplicity, I watched a video about minimalism and had a small 10 minute clear out. Writing this post has ticked the box for creativity. For relationships I am going to visit my brother and sister tonight. I also made sure I remembered to text my friends back. For fun, I’m going to have a movie night with my siblings. They are all little things, and I hadn't planned to do any of them. I remember the values. I ask myself what I can do today. And then I can do as much or as little as I feel like, and still feel good about myself.