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Core Values and Self-Reflection for a Better Year Ahead

As the rollercoaster year of 2020 finally comes to an end, I’ve been thinking a lot about self-reflection. Self-reflection is so powerful because it leads to self-awareness. It challenges you to look inward, assess what you do and why, and think about ways to continue to grow as an individual.

In this final episode of The Learning Xchange in 2020, Schoox’s VP of Learning and Brand Success Matthew Brown takes time to reflect on the eventful (and often difficult) year of 2020. However, instead of looking out into the world, Matthew looks inward and invites you to join him on a journey of self-reflection and discovery.

Listen to this episode of the podcast below:

Or keep reading to learn about the importance of self-reflection to identify your core values and why it could be the very thing to help make the new year your best one yet.

Take an inventory of your personal and professional life

When a year ends, it’s worth taking time to reflect on previous months from a personal and professional standpoint. What do you want to do differently in the new year? It helps to break your goals down into three categories:

1. What do I want to start?

2. What do I want to stop?

3. What do I want to continue?

Defining your answer to each of these questions will help you see what amendments you need to make this year to achieve your goals. It’s mostly about self-reflection and shouldn’t be seen as a New Year’s resolution.

You can go through each of the three questions for both work and your personal life. I like to focus on starting the new year on a clean slate in a way. So, I start clearing things out, including going through my inbox and cleaning it up.

Organize your inbox

My inbox tends to get quite crowded by the end of the year. There’s a lot of junk mail in the junk folder, unsent drafts, calendar appointments, and so on. Before the new year begins, I take time to go through my inbox and cleanse it.

If I have calendar appointments scheduled, I make sure that I can see them clearly. If I have a series that needs to be extended, I extend it. And, if anything needs canceling, I cancel it. Cleaning my inbox is a time-consuming task, but it’s worth it.

Going through your inbox allows you to de-clutter and look at how you’ve structured and organized everything over the last year. You can then decide whether you want to change how you’ve done things, tweak some of it, or keep it the same.

Consider updating your training

From a training perspective, I like to look at my existing training content, training that has been both deployed and discontinued, and which may need updating.

You must make sure your training is current and relevant. 2020 has been a hectic year. As a result, many things have been turned upside down, and the training you built last year may not be valid as we move into 2021.

If your training needs an update or a complete overhaul, the start of the year is a good time to do it. That way, you’ll have new and updated training ready for the year ahead. You can also think about adding new pieces of training for your organization. Perhaps you can build training that bridges a gap within your organization or work on one that will help restore your business to emerge even stronger in the new year.

Make a list of the training that needs renewed and updated. Then, make a list of the new training content you want to introduce in 2021. You can expand the list and look at the new hire orientation, position-based training, leadership development programs, and so on. From there, you can begin to work on your list.

I would advise that you reflect on your training every quarter to make sure you stay on top of things. However, if time got away from you in 2020, now is the time to consider your training content and take a reliable inventory.

Take a personal values inventory

One of the most important and valuable tasks I did during my self-reflection process was creating a personal values inventory. Doing so turned out to be a practical experience that improved my self-awareness and helped me understand how my values align with the business’s values.

Take a step back and look at your life through your personal values

So, I highly recommend that you take a personal values inventory too. It’s not always easy to look in the mirror through an honest lens. However, it is worthwhile to think about and identify the values you care about the most. Your values reflect who you are at your core. 

Once you have identified your core values, take a step back, look at your life and work through those values. Is there anything out of alignment? Do you have things going on, either in your personal or professional life, that work against your core values? If so, you may experience increased tension and stress, which is why it is vital to ensure that your core values align with your personal and work life.

How to identify your core values

If you aren’t sure how to identify or structure your core values, here is a simple exercise that can help:

Step 1 – Write down a list of your values (the list can be as short or as long as you like)

Step 2 – Sort your values into three different buckets or categories:

  • Values that are extraordinarily important
  • Values that are somewhat important
  • Values that are not that important

Step 3 – Look at your most essential values again and repeat the process until you have a final list of your core values

As you complete this exercise, you might discover a few surprises along the way. Perhaps some values are more or less important than you initially thought. You might also find that your values act as good reminders of what truly motivates you in life. They can help you identify why you connect with certain people, why you connect with the work you do, and so on. Many of these things can be traced back to your core values.

This is a great exercise to help anchor you in who you really are. It also allows you to gain self-confidence. From there, you can begin to look at how your core values align with your company’s values. You can use this exercise to clarify whether your values truly align with the company and if not, consider how you can change that.

Keep in mind that your core values are not set in stone. They can change over time, and that’s okay. As you live each day and encounter new people, information, and experiences, you may discover that your core values evolve or change over time.

Being able to cross-check your core values with your work is key to help you find your happy place. It also helps you to connect with yourself on a deeper level, allowing you to identify what motivates you and how this can all come together to help you succeed and thrive at work.


If you enjoyed this podcast episode summary, check out all The Learning Xchange episodes on your favorite podcast app and listen to them on the go! Just search for The Learning Xchange wherever you get your podcasts.

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