“Grow into your ideals so that life will not rob you of them” – Albert Schweitzer
The Live Your Ideals Project is inspired by this quote.
Anyone who knows me knows I am a huge Albert Schweitzer fan. This is one of his quotes I live by. His quotes remind me that my life has meaning every time I lose my sense of direction or purpose.
Why write about ideals?
“An ideal is a principle or value that one actively pursues as a goal…” – Wiki
I speak of ideals in terms of process, pursuit, cultivation, habit, imperfection reaching for greater and fuller expression of the ideal.
I am not talking about idealism, dismissal of reality or perfectionism.
A few years ago, I realized I was becoming someone I hardly recognized. I had drifted away from my core ideals and was devastated to see what I was becoming.
“Virtue – An ideal that one can make a habit.” – Wiki
I discovered that there was a huge gap between my values and my behavior. I have about 12 core ideals around which my life is focused and I was completely out of alignment with many of them.
For example, one of my core strengths and virtues is creativity. But my guitar would sit there for weeks untouched. The melodies came but I would neither record them nor write them down. My songbook had gone for years without a song. I was neglecting my creativity.
Other core values are joy, generosity and connectedness. I have always been the positive glass half-full, bubbly, smiley, belly-laughing, fun person… But I found myself constantly spouting negativity, complaining and whining about everything. I love people. I love connecting people, meeting people, being hospitable, volunteering, serving… I am a giver. But, I realized I had completely isolated myself. I had no deep friendships and I had stopped smiling. I wasn’t even volunteering.
Wellness? Don’t even try. I was overweight, an insomniac, stressed and cranky.
I could hardly recognize myself.
Last year, I came across this Schweitzer quote again. I decided to cultivate, really grow my ideals, not perfectly but paying attention and nurturing them.
About the same time, I discovered and became a huge fan of James Clear’s work on habits. I especially connected with his article on <a href=”http://http://jamesclear.com/identity-based-habits” title=”identity-based habits”>Identity-based Habits</a> which revolutionized the way I saw myself.
“The key to building lasting habits is focusing on creating a new identity first. Your current behaviors are simply a reflection of your current identity. What you do now is a mirror image of the type of person you believe that you are (either consciously or subconsciously). To change your behavior for good, you need to start believing new things about yourself. ” – James Clear
I decided to live what I believed.
James Clear’s recipe for success: 1. Decide the type of person you want to be. 2. Prove it to yourself with small wins.
For me, this meant practicing each ideal, intentionally, imperfectly in small increments daily. And it has transformed my life.
The weight is coming off. My joy has returned. I am serving again. I do a little music daily. I am publishing posts twice weekly. Again, as I always say, this is not about me.
You have to become the change you wish to see in your life, not just in the world.
Becoming is a process, and unfolding… implying time and change… Not a quick fix. Try hurrying up a caterpillar’s transformation. It will be destroyed if its transformation is forced or rushed.
I love the idea of virtues being the habit or the practice of ideals. It means that living your ideals doesn’t have to be perfectionist or rigid. On the contrary, it means creating a daily practice of living your virtues. Some days you do well. Other days, you will fail miserably and disappoint yourself. But you show up the next day and try again. And again. And again.
Think about your core virtues What is important to you? Love? Service? Joy, Creativity, Integrity? Reverence? Making a habit of engaging and embodying your virtues results in actually living your ideals.
Live what you believe.
Stop planning to run. Run. Don’t buy another guitar book (yes, I’m guilty!). Play your guitar. Knit. Write. Speak. Dance. Build. Farm. Swim. Meditate. Audition. Again and Again.
Show up. The first time. Every time. Imperfectly. Just show up. Again and again.
And like Albert Schweitzer said ” I decided that I would make my life my argument.”
In other words, how can you embody that which you strive to be? Become it. Live that ideal. Day by day, moment by moment, again and again.
Practice the habit, practice the virtue, Live the ideal.
No one, nothing, not even life, can rob of you of it.
1. What ideals do you need to consistently cultivate or embody?
2. James Clear’s blog focuses on transforming your habits. What habits do you need to transform or eliminate completely?
3. How does Schweitzer’s quote “I decided to make my life my argument” resonate with you?
4. What small change do you need to make to live your ideals consistently?
5. What challenges keep you from being consistent?
6. What would living your ideals consistently look like for you?
7. Do you have a list of your core ideals? If not, can you write them down today?
You can live your ideals consistently. Consistency is simply unwavering adherence to your principles. You have what it takes to show up and do your best. Just take the first step. And the next. And the next. I believe in you. See you next time!
Yvonne Whitelaw writes for Yvonnewhitelaw.com where she blogs about her quest to grow into her ideals in her “Live Your Ideals Project”. By sharing her lessons along the way (every Monday and Thursday), she hopes you will be inspired to live your ideals and ultimately live your calling.