We all want to live happier more fulfilling lives. However, for most of us, it eludes us for most, if not all of our lives. Just making it through life, bored, unmotivated, passionless. So how does one begin to begin to even understand what makes us happy, how do we discover our passions, how do we live our dreams, and how might we be led towards our purpose? No matter who you are, what your stake is in life, we propose, with some deep self-reflection, you can begin to make decisions that will propel you to a life of dreams, passions, and satisfaction.

You may see the terms Freedom, Adventure, and Simplicity thrown around our blog, Facebook, and YouTube pages a lot. These three words are not a superficial tagline to us, they took deep thought and self-reflection to discover, they are meaningful motivators to us, and the elements in our lives that ignite our passions. We have discovered that they are the values we hold higher than all others.  

It wasn’t until we understood what we actually value in life, that we were able to start to see that some decisions we have made in the past and current environments we were living in, were not conducive to the most satisfying life we could be living. Before this self discovery we had no mechanism to tailor our lives to make them more meaningful, we did what the culture presses everyone to do, work as much as you can, buy stuff, own a house, etc. We were and are very happy and content people, we did know however, that there was something about our lives on our boat, cruising, exploring, and relaxing, on weekends and vacations that made us feel, in a sense, complete. We needed to find out what it was that made it like that, and find a way to replicate.

Our discovery led us to the decision to sell our house and most of ours possession, set goals that would have us boating in the warmer waters south, tailoring our work around telecommuting, and buying a live aboard boat. 

There are plenty of books and techniques out there to help you discover your values. We used a bunch of them to help us. However, the biggest and most effective way we found was using an approach called Mountains and Valleys.  

Think back over your whole life to the times you were most happy, excited, and overjoyed. These are mountain top experiences. Now drill into each one of these experiences and ask yourself what it was about it that made you feel that way. As you answer that question for each event, keep asking why until it feels really weird to answer why. Once there, write down in one or 2 words that reason why. Now do the same with the saddest, angriest, most depressing times of your life. These are your valleys, and they are just as important as your mountain tops in discovering your values. Keep asking yourself why you felt so negative in these experiences, until it gets awkward. Again write down the result in one or two words. Now think of the opposite of those 1-2 negative words and you should have something else positive you value highly.

Your values should be expressed as one word categories. You should all limit your values to the top 3-5. Anything more can dilute your goal setting and outcomes. Truthfully everything other than the 3-5 are probably just a subcategory of those top values anyway.  Knowing them can act as a compass for your life when making major decisions or planning change. It can give you confidence in the decisions you have made and the path you are on, no matter what others may say to you. Your values can guide any part of your life, from career to leisure. It does not define what you do, insomuch as guide you to tailor what you do to give you more satisfaction. 
Make sure your values are stated a little deeper than more superficial things, like I value sports or boating. Go into why those things are of value. Go into the state of being, or essence of what you value. Maybe for sports it is you value competition. If you like luxury cars then you may value status. For us it wasn’t so much that we valued boating, it was that we valued the freedom, adventure, and simplicity that it gave us like no other activity could.

You have to be very careful of a couple of things however; Values you think you have but are based on fear, are essentially anti-values that hinder you from living your dreams to your fullest potential. For example, maybe you think you are more happy with stability, however if that stability is driven from a fear of change or risk then the stability is a reaction to your fear, and is probably not a value of yours at all. 

You also need to make sure that none of your values contradict each other too much. For example, if you did truly value stability, and you thought you also valued risky adventure, then those two values may cause you some tension. 

If you don’t know your values, you will latch onto and follow others dreams and values in an attempt to be as happy as those people you follow. You are chasing the satisfaction and happiness of others instead of dreams based on your own values. At best doing this will end in your dissatisfaction with where you are, worst case it can end in disaster.  Knowing your values, your motivators, your passion, is the first step in taking control of your life, and purposefully steer it in a direction that matters to you. You transition from follower to leader. 

When making dreams into reality, make sure your significant other has the same values or values that align and are complementary to your own. Driving toward goals that do not make your partner happy, will inevitably drive a wedge between you.  Personally, we are thankful that we have very similar if not identical values and motivators in our lives. It makes for smooth living, and almost a hyper-active execution on making our dreams a reality. We see it as a blessing for sure. 

So you may not discover that your values point you to a live aboard and cruising lifestyle like ours are pushing us toward, but yours will be none the less significant to you. Discover what you value, then let them guide every aspect of your life, even your dreams. And may your dreams become reality.