Updated: Nov 3, 2022
Are you crafting your personal plan for this year or this quarter?
Bring in more clarity and amplify your impact by connecting your plan with your core values!
One of my core values is "Connecting All the Dots".
For me, this means to tap into a child-like curiosity, an urge to experiment with seemingly unrelated concepts, ideas and practices; a joy of discovering a bigger picture.
As I sat down to reflect on my last year's journey, I wanted to experiment with bringing together the learning I had in 2021, and use it to prepare for impactful and meaningful next year. Read on to learn about the 7 steps process that emerged as the result. Rooted in professional coaching practices from Co-Active Coaching, connected with my favourite Liberating Structures, and inspired by ideas from Emotional Agility, this process will set you up for successfully walking your why in 2022.
Step 1: Clarify your core values
Why is it important to be clear about your core values?
Your core values are what makes a difference between living your life in "go with the flow" mode vs. living your life authentically and purposefully. As Susan David explains in her "Emotional Agility" book, the values
"allow you to get closer to the way you want to live your life. - They bring you freedom from social comparison. - They foster self-acceptance, which is critical to mental health."
Mining for Values is one of the first guided visualisations I've experienced in Co-Active Coaching training. Working with my own coach, I was able to refine them and make this short list of values uniquely mine.
If you don't have a coach to guide you through a values mining exercise, a good place to start is this list from Brené Brown. Aim for selecting up to 7 values that resonate with you the most. Iterate on the initial selection by adding adjectives, combining values to make them uniquely yours.
Step 2: Map out your 2022 plans and aspirations with Ecocycle Planning
While I find all of them very powerful for facilitating group work, the Ecocycle Planning structure is one of the few that can also be applied effectively in coaching, and even used for individual reflection.
Bringing a metaphor from nature, this structure invites us to take a holistic view at a collection of related items, arranging them along the infinity loop – an Ecocycle.
It is useful when there is a need to visualise what’s going on at large, step back from our current myopic view to broaden perspective and find opportunities for change.
I used Ecoclycle Planning to help me organise my 2022 aspirations, learning interests as well as my existing skills and commitments. I've also included everything that I wanted to Stop doing in the area called Creative Destruction.
Every quarter I facilitate a career focusing workshop, based on this framework. Join the next one to see it in action!
What is included in this workshop?
1. Participant workbook
2. Individual Mural board
3. Saboteur Assessment (for your awareness on what can get in the way of the plans you make during this workshop)
Use an Ecocycle Planning Template to organise your plans, your aspirations and everything that's currently in progress into the following 4 areas (or 2 traps):
Gestation - place here a new book you’ve heard about, a name of a class that sounds interesting, an idea, an inspiration, potentially useful professional connection.
Birth - a place for a new skill that you are developing, a book you’ve started reading, a new connection or relationship that needs attention.
Maturity - this where existing stuff belongs - the skills you are known for, you can do them with your eyes closes. Established relationships, long-term employment can also fit here.
Creative Destruction - What will you place here? Skills, activities, relationships or organizations that you’ve made a decision to no longer pursue. Celebrate these – you are creating an opportunity for renewal!
Poverty Trap: Ideas, relationships or skills we can’t start growing because we lack time, money, support or any other resources.
Rigidity Trap: Ideas, relationships or skills we don’t feel we can let go. These no longer bring joy, no longer inspire, no longer align with our path. They are ready to be creatively destructed, yet we are not letting them go.
Feel free to reference my Ecocycle as a sample, or check out another example from one of my previous Liberating Structures workshop participants.
Step 3: Map your values to your plan
Here is where I started Connecting All the Dots!
By bringing together my core values from Step 1 and mapping them to the items on my Ecocycle, I was able to get the new level of insights: there were items on my Ecocycle that were in dissonance with more then one of values, there were others that were in resonance with my values and there were values that I couldn't map to any of the activities I was planning for 2022!
Eye opening and thought provoking...
Dare to try the step 3 with your Ecocycle?
Go through all the items on it, one by one, and reflect on how they are connected (or not) to any of your core values. Put the corresponding value number on each item and change the color of the number icon as following:
Red - current state of the activity/ plan item is in dissonance with this core value.
Green - current state of the activity/ plan item resonates with this core value.
Blue - there is a future opportunity to honour this value, if additional action is taken.
Step 4: Reflect on the big picture
I used a modified version of W3 structure to step back and take a holistic look at my 2022 planning. I've gathered I lot of data. Time to get ready to generate the insights!
Starting with "What?" allowed me to observe and acknowledge, without judgement, everything that showed up as a result of this mapping on my Ecocycle.
Moving on to "So What?" created space for making hypotheses, drawing conclusions, generating insights and preparing for next steps.
1. "What?" Start from taking a holistic view. What showed up on your Ecocycle? Which areas have more cards/ less cards? Are there any specific themes emerging across multiple areas? How balanced is your Ecocycle? How evenly were you able to map your core values? Spend a good amount of time in this step before moving on to "So What?"
2. Time for insights! What's important about the observations you made earlier? What hypotheses can you make? What patterns have emerged for you? Where is the change needed to bring more balance in your 2022?
Step 5: Brainstorm your bold actions
It was the time for me to decide what to do with the "Now What?"
Inspired by an invitation from Emotional Agility book to
"choose courage over comfort" as well as by one of the elements of the Balance formula from Co-Active coaching, I crafted a special powerful question for myself to generate a list of possible actions (yes, some of them ended up looking really bold and scary!)
Set a timer for 15 min and start writing down as many actions as you can come up with in response to this invitation:
If you were 25 times bolder, what would you say YES to and NO to in 2022?
Write down everything, without evaluation or judgement. What would you do if you were not afraid? Keep writing until the time is up.
Step 6: Go for impact and value resonance
Looking at the list of my potential bold actions, I connected them to my core values again.
One more mapping activity, one more glimpse at the actions through the lenses of my core values, and my most impactful actions for 2022 became crystal clear.
Review the list of your bold actions. Select the ones that will be most impactful (go with your gut feeling for now). Put a border around the cards to make them visible.
Now look at your list of core values. Map them to the most impactful actions.
Do you see an action that resonates with more than one of your values? This might be a good one to add to your Ecocycle!
Step 7. Finish it by getting started!
Did you notice how often we delay taking the first step? We procrastinate, we listen to our avoider saboteur's voice, we find many other things to take care of instead. One way to move past this behaviour is to ask yourself: "What have I been avoiding, that has the biggest impact in reaching my goal. Am I willing to start doing it today?"
Additionally, you can find an inspiration from 15% Solution Liberating Structure and find the tiniest first steps that you can take without more resources or authority to start pursuing your most impactful actions.
What is your 15 percent? Where do you have discretion and freedom to act? What can you do without more resources or authority to start pursuing your most impactful actions?
Write down up to 3 small steps, with at least one of them that you are willing to act on today!
I want to leave you with a final quote from Emotional Agility:
"Values are the facets on a diamond. Sometimes when you turn one to face you squarely, another may have to turn away - but it is still there, part of the whole, and visible through the prism." - Susan David "Emotional Agility"
As we continue to juggle our work and personal life, while living during the times of COVID, I invite you to discover your diamond. Connecting with your core values can bring clarity in making tough choices, offer a way for a better time management, and help your focus on what really matters. Make them visible, use them in your daily life to guide you in decision making, and living the live with authenticity and purpose. Experiment with the Value-driven planning using these 7 steps to walking your Why and let me know how it worked for you!
Looking for a coach to help you clarify your values or guide your through this planning? Book a complimentary coaching chemistry session with me to explore a potential fit.