I Outgrew My Values, Here’s How I Navigate Life Changes

The Will to Change

Recently, I  felt a discomfort more subtle than an itch. There was an underlying and persistent dis-ease lapping at my consciousness. It felt like each time I woke up, my mind furniture had been moved two inches over– a slight disorientation that wasn’t enough to cry wolf over. Unsure of what was going on, I did all my mental health checks:

  • I’m feeding myself creatively
  • I’m drinking the right amount of water
  • I’m eating regularly
  • My room isn’t a mess

It  wasn’t the usual signs of depression, but I was still so uncomfortable. I didn’t feel stagnant, but I was not moving in any notable direction. I felt aimless, literally as if I was ambling around in a closed loop. So where was the culprit?

Typically, I plan on a quarterly basis. I choose a word or feeling that is aligned with one of my values, and I create goals to work towards that. However, for the last six months I had nothing specific or explicit that I was working towards. I am perfectly fine with going for stretches of time without having a goal. But, when my internal dialogue starts turning towards victimhood, there needs to be change. 

For about five languid months, I was content with floating through life. But in month six, I tuned in to my internal radio and started to hear some internalized grind culture rhetoric. I did my spiritual sleuthing, and discovered that ultimately the malaise and negative self talk was coming from the fact that I felt misaligned with my values. I realized that the definitions of my core values didn’t motivate me anymore. 

Resisting The Shift

I came to the above realization, and then promptly ignored it for several more weeks. In 2018, when I had first crafted my core values, I made such a huge deal out of it. I blasted it all over LinkedIn, and made a show of it on Youtube, etc. I irrevocably tied my sense of self to the values I wrote. Because I used spacious umbrella terms, so it was hard for me to accept that I had wandered so far away from what I believed about myself. 

I had believed that values are forever– otherwise how do I hold on to a consistent understanding of myself. The resistance to updating my values was that I’d have to completely change who I thought I was. The same rubric I usesd to make the most important decisions in the past five years. These are the decisions that crafted the life I love today, that shaped the person I am now. 

It felt scary to even think about reworking these, because it meant that I had to let go of who I believed myself to be. I wanted to avoid the grief of remaking myself, but evidently, I had already been remade.

My Process

In 2018, when I first determined my values, I went to Google and parsed through several lists. I also wrote down some thoughts that came to my head that weren’t on the screen. I looked at what attributes of myself I most appreciated and what things in life brought me the most fulfillment. 

To reshape my values, I free-wrote a number of things that actually matter to me. I did this exercise in the wee hours of the morning so that I was in my liminal consciousness where conditioning tends to be lighter and unsolid. An important part of this for me was not stopping to edit or judge what ended up on the page. Then on a separate day, I pulled together a number of words and energies that felt spacious and current to where I am today. 

I’m still in the process of fleshing them out, but now I realize that there will never be a final draft. Crafting your values is a breathing, iterative process. While the updated values are not even that different from what I had originally put, the categories are more spacious and fit more of what I want to prioritize lately. For example, adventure transitioned into leisure because adventure centered a more active style of being, whereas with leisure that’s about having blank space on my calendar that I can fill with whatever entices me in that moment. 


Values can offer an individualized structure to living that is aligned with what you actually want. Our first values tend to be imparted through family and/or religion–  but at a certain point, we have to define what we value for ourselves. 

You have to create your own benchmarks of what it means to have a good life, and what choices will get you there. With defined values, you’ll be able to tell when you’re disappointing yourself vs simply not adhering to societal norms. Society’s insistence that we all strive for the same 4 things is weird at best and deeply damaging at worst. 

There is no one way to go about this existence thing.

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