Peace meets us when we live from our values, when we live with a sense of being-ness, or being fully present with every moment. 

It’s a sense of wellbeing despite any good or bad circumstances. 

It’s being accepting with what is. 

Life often presents us with an overwhelming sense of options. And for those individuals like myself who find themselves multi-passionate about many things, it’s easy for us to feel scattered, confused and over-extended.

In this day and age, it’s more important than ever before to become clear on our deeper, most inner values and simplify the rest.

After finding myself in a scattered and overwhelmed state a few weeks ago , I turned back to an old online class that I purchased years ago: Jess Lively’s Life with Intention. 

I love Jess’s work because she presents these large (often esoteric) concepts of values, intention-setting, principles and ego vs. intuition in such an easy, digestible way. After recently going through the quick modules again and reminding myself of these core universal principles, I was reminded of how important it was to shed these excess layers….to go back to my inner values and create a few intentions for them. 

Why Life Becomes Stressful

Life becomes stressful and overwhelming when we focus on obtaining specific outcomes and results, all of which are entirely out of our control.

As someone who used to be goal-oriented in my younger years, I find that I often resort back to being achievement and goal-focused when I’m not intentionally choosing my thoughts, when I’m living life by default instead of consciously choosing. 

But when we live each moment of each day from our core values, when we focus on our deepest values in each present moment, then we find lasting peace. Achievements and goals become unimportant. 

Jess Lively put it best, it’s about…

“embodying our deepest values in the present moment, given our current circumstances.”

It’s about acting from your values right now – in this very moment – despite your current situation or circumstances, with whatever physical or emotional resources you have.

It’s about asking yourself, “how can I embody ____ right now?” instead of reacting.

Whew! Doesn’t that just feel like a giant sigh of relief? 

It was while reminding myself of these ideas in the class recently that I realized my only goal:

to live each day fully present and only act according to my values.

Joy and Peace Comes From Within Ourselves 

Joy, peace and fulfillment are not caused by outside experiences or circumstances.

It is important, however, to note that achievements and goals can bring us temporary happiness in the moment. But if we are seeking long-term joy and fulfillment and consistent peace, unless there is a deeper value of ours behind the achievement that brings inner fulfillment, we will never find lasting peace in anything other than from within ourselves. 

This means you don’t need a fancy studio office to start your dream business or that doting partner to love yourself. You don’t need a vision board or a list of goals and achievements to tick off to feel satisfied. To feel peaceful and joyful in your life is an intentional choice.

It’s about following your values instead of a vision board. 

I’ll be the first to tell you that vision boards are not helpful. For someone like myself who’s created vision boards from my childhood to my late teens, I can tell you they only bring one thing: stress.

And a focus on external circumstances and validation over your intrinsic happiness. 

Our peace does not come from things or relationships or success or achievements. It doesn’t come from bucket lists or checked off New Year’s resolutions.

It comes from within.

It always comes from your appreciation for the present moment. For what you have now. 

Helena Woods Photographer and Blogger

How to Find Consistent Peace from Intention-Setting

Let go of Outcomes

Outcomes are completely out of our control. What you can control, however, is how you feel in the present moment and which values you place importance on.

For example, “kindness” for me is an important value regarding my relationships with others. As long as I focus on living my value of “kindness” and being kind to others, the rest is entirely out of my control. If friendships aren’t reciprocated or a family member doesn’t feel the same connection or love in return, that is O-KAY. Because I approached life by living according to my value of being kind. I cannot control other people’s reactions or outcomes, but I can control how I live my life.

Dig Deep and Discover Your Values

Values cannot be crossed off a list, and they are always present-moment focused and innately fulfilling.

They are never based on metrics or measurements and are flexible with time, flowing with the shifting and changing of our lives as we move forward.

Most importantly, they are not future-oriented. Living from your values is always focused on what you can do and live now. 

You don’t need anything other than what you have to live your life from your values. 

If you’re saying to yourself now, “but I’m not happy yet because I don’t have a loving partner / successful career / enough money for ___, etc….”

Ask yourself, “why is doing (or having)  ____ so important to me?”

Chances are there is a core value buried deep within having that which you desire. 

Aside from peace, values are not focused on the expectations of the outcome. They are not about the final destination or the result.

Remember that Goals Are Unnecessary

Goals are an optional tool that you can use, but by simply living your core values in each moment, you are already where you need to be. 

My Personal Intention Statement

I’m an action-focused person and love to use my hands to create, build and execute projects. But that action, if I’m following my inner values, always comes from a place of immense joy and playfulness.

For example, I started this blog nearly four years ago because I find a lot of fulfillment and enjoyment writing and sharing my life and growth openly with others.But if I begin tracking my blog stats, forcing my blog to grow and branch out and monetize, I am not living from my core values, I am living from an external outcome that I hope to achieve.

When we follow numbers and achievements, we become unhappy because we are always focused on a result.

I stopped reading my stats last year, and I’ve surrendered that desire I used to have of people finding and reading my blog. Because devoting my time and energy to this little labor of love is so innately fulfilling and fun for me! I am living my values in the present moment: “openly sharing.”

My Value and Intention Statement: “To share myself openly and kindly with others.”

Changing Values and Intention Setting

Values can always ebb and flow as we change over the years, but they can also stay exactly the same. Currently, I’m reevaluating the values I’ve recorded from last September to now. And I’m surprised to see that in this last full year, they haven’t truly changed! 

For relationships, I still value friendships that are “open, playful, and share a reciprocating connection.” 

For my personal habits and career, I seek “to explore myself artistically and playfully create” as well as “to share myself with others kindly and openly.”

Your Turn – Write Out Your Values and Intention Statements

Take some to time quiet your mind and write values that stem from your gut or heart.

It’s easy for your mind to desire achievements, results and belongings but quietly bring yourself back to the present moment when you find your mind struggling to stay focused on your core values. If you are still desiring a certain outcome or achievement, ask yourself why you desire this so intensely.

Peel back those layers until you settle upon the value that is most deeply important to you.

Often what we value most is hiding, buried within us. But it is our job to search within ourselves to discover what we love and value most.

Write a long list of values and eliminate that one-by-one, crossing out those that don’t fully resonate with your inner-self. Remember that you have all the answers and peace within yourself.

Aside from Jess Lively’s course, I also loved filling out Danielle Laporte’s The Desire Map workbook and found it be super fun and pleasurable to dig deep into what truly makes me feel alive.

Put Your Intention Setting into Action

Try Some Temporary Values

Try on some values for size and adapt and change them as you continue discovering what is most important to you. 

Remind Yourself of Your Intention Before Taking Action

Take a moment each day to remind yourself of your core values before taking action. Remember to ask yourself, “how can I embody ____ in this present moment?”

Make Different Intentions for Different Areas of Your Life

Just like Jess describes in her course, you can make a different intention statement for each area of your life or have one over-arching intention for everything.

I personally have different intention statements for each area of my career, relationships, health, and personal habits. In this season of my life, I’m working on feeling lighter and more energized with my body after gaining a bit of weight, so “moving joyfully at the pleasure of my soul” is a great value-focused intention for myself. It reminds me to focus on moving joyfully and pleasurably every day instead of focusing on the result and achievement of “lose x amount of weight.”

light, intention-setting and living from your values

I hope this little blog post on what I’ve been learning and reflecting on is helpful to you. After a stressful, scattered and confused phase this August, I’ve been refocusing on my core values, and I’ve found a lot of peace and innate joy by living each day from my values rather than focusing on achievements and results.

It’s so easy to default back to focusing on what we “need” to be happy in the present moment, but when we focus on living from within ourselves, from what will bring us personal joy and fulfillment, that is a joyous life well-lived – the way life was meant to always be. 

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How to Find Peace By Living From Your Deeper Values and Intentions

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I'm an expert at creating emotive, modern classic children's and family portraiture, the ultimate Disney and Harry Potter nerd, and I'm obsessed with expressing my joy for life on this blog!

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2016 - 2019 Helena Woods | Helena Woods Portraiture is located outside New York City in Fairfield County Connecticut and travels worldwide for her clients. Helena Woods is New England and Connecticut’s premier family, children, baby and newborn photographer specializing in modern classic custom family photography with a timeless look that's always in style. As a professional photographer, Helena captures maternity, newborn, baby and family portraits in NYC, Westchester, Trumbull, Easton, Weston, and Westport, Greenwich, Darien, Westport, Norfolk and all Fairfield County surrounding areas.