Karin Freeland

Motivational Speaker ~ Author ~ Life Coach

Karin Freeland • October 14, 2021

How to Live Up to Your Morals

Updated: March 29, 2022

Spoiler alert: Most of us start our day on someone else’s terms. Maybe you’ve had a morning like this before: Wake up, check your work emails and start responding before you’re even out of bed. Or this: Kid flops on you while you’re trying to get an extra 10 minutes of sleep and starts asking what’s for breakfast, to which you promptly get up and make them their food. Sound familiar?

Chances are the rest of your day progresses from there and you give little thought to your morals and how you want to live your life that particular day. Think about it…when is the last time you woke up and considered how you were going to live up to your most cherished morals? Probably never or at least very rarely. What even is a moral these days? It’s hard to find good examples in the news and in the TV shows we watch. Don’t believe me? Ask yourself if you’ve ever rooted for the bad guy or justified your favorite character killing someone. See what I mean?

For our purposes we’ll use this definition of a moral, “a person’s standards of behavior or beliefs concerning what is and is not acceptable for them to do.”

It could also be interchanged with the word values. Personal values are the “principles and guidelines which a human being lives by and determine the attitude and opinion of the person with regard to various aspects of life.”

Note: No one’s morals or values are better than someone else’s per se and in this blog I use examples that you may agree or disagree with. They are merely here for example’s sake and not intended to communicate someone’s values are explicitly right or wrong. Although I hope we can all agree from my previous example that murder is no bueno!

Whatever word you use to describe your morals or values, the mere action of defining them, why they are important to you and how you’ll embody them is what’s most important. We’re going to assume you’ve already created your values and you know why you hold them dear, but if you need help that’s one of the things I help my clients with on a regular basis.

Let’s look at 4 ways you can live up to your morals everyday:

1) Trust Your Instincts
We all have that sixth sense that tells us when things aren’t sitting well with us. Chances are if it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t (for you). Whether it’s listening to a colleague get berated in a meeting and doing nothing to help or seeing someone get bullied on social media and scrolling on by, that experience will haunt you if your values tell you that you should have helped that person in need.

On the flip side, if you are clear in your values, you’d likely pause and come to that person’s aid in both scenarios. Helping you to feel happier and more aligned with your morals. (Hence why it’s so important to know your values.)

Yet we often ignore those little signals our heart sends to our brain. It can be scary to go out on a limb and live our morals out loud. We might worry about judgement and what impact that will have on us personally or professionally.

Deep down in your heart you have all the answers. Look inside and go with what your gut is telling you. You have your intuition for a reason – use it!

2) Walk the Narrow Path
Social media makes it so tempting to look at what others are doing and make justifications for our actions, even if it goes against our values. No one wants to feel alone so sometimes it’s easier to go with the grain or what seems popular. (Yes, even as adults!)

However, being adults means that sometimes we have to do the thing that is unpopular, because it is something we believe in and value. We can choose to walk the narrow path to keep ourselves whole.

Don’t believe me? I have a friend I follow on Instagram and she’s always posting pictures of her alcoholic drinks. Every time I see her picture it makes me want to have a drink. While I partake from time to time, I really value my sobriety these days. I’m more productive and happier when I’m not drinking. So, how do I resist the temptation? I remind myself of my values and what works for me while quietly celebrating my friend and her values.

Next time you have the urge to do something that seems out of character, check in with yourself first. Ask, why am I doing this? Is it what I want to do? Or am I doing it because of someone else’s influence?

3) Do One Thing Daily to Reinforce Your Values
Having morals on paper is great, but the rubber meets the road in everyday life and taking action. You all know how much I love to talk about taking action! So of course, I’m going to recommend that you actually practice your morals.

If your value is to be generous, who can you be generous to that day? Can you do something simple like give your dog an extra scoop of food or walk around the block, or offer your spouse the last dinner roll?

Sometimes we have an opportunity to take a much bigger action. Perhaps at work, you’re being asked to go against one of your morals and you can speak up and prevent further damage. Ex. Seeing a co-worker get sexually harassed and being told to mind your own business seems to come to mind here. You would continue to push that up the chain and support your co-worker if that is important to you.

By acting on your values daily, you’ll reinforce them so that they become second nature and you’re always living in alignment with your core beliefs. Consider it like strengthening a muscle at the gym. The more you work that muscle the easier it is to lift that weight. Exercising your values is the same thing!

4) Follow The Golden Rule
It’s the old adage – treat others how you would want to be treated. It seems a lot easier than it is. Truly living by this principle will require deep empathy and understanding. You’ll need patience and respect for others (even when you disagree with them). I know this is one I struggle with regularly.

It’s easy to say we do it until we, for example, get cut off by a driver and suddenly start cussing and flailing about in our car. Yet, if we think hard about how we would want someone to treat us, we’ll find we know the answer about how we should act in the situation.

When in doubt, you can live out your morals by following this simple guidance. You’ll also be setting a great example for others in your life and likely rub off on them in a good way.

When we live in alignment with our values and morals, life is generally happier and more joyful. And when we’re happier, we’re able to give the world our best and let our true light shine. We also lift others around us and make their life better.

If you want support and hands on accountability to outline your values and build a life that supports them, schedule a one-on-one EDIT Your Life™ Jumpstart call today! Let’s get you fast-tracked to reaching your goals and living a life you love.

Mentors will help you prepare for the interview. Sponsors will pick up the phone and recommend you for the job.

Selecting a Mentor

The biggest question I get from the women I coach is, How do I find a mentor? It’s best to choose a mentor based on the goals you are looking to achieve. Too often someone will choose a mentor just for the sake of having one. Instead, select a mentor that can help you in a specific area or develop a particular skill. For example, if you want to develop your expertise in Finance, a mentor in Communications probably isn’t the right fit. It’s a good idea to have mentors from different backgrounds and genders as well. Just because you are a woman doesn’t mean you should only have female mentors. Diversity will help you see things from a different perspective.

Your mentors will change over time as your career and skill set evolves. You may even have a few mentors, each with a different purpose. Don’t forget about external mentors, too. It can be tempting to only consider people inside your company, but often the best source of fresh ideas will come from those in a different industry. Not to mention they won’t be caught up in your office politics and can provide a truly objective view!

How do you get a mentor? Ask. This is one of the biggest differences between a sponsor and a mentor. All you have to do is ask someone to mentor you. When you approach them be sure to outline the reason for selecting them, what you’re hoping they can help you with, and what you’ll realistically expect from them. If you are expecting a mentor to meet with you monthly and they can’t commit the time, you should consider someone else or adjust your expectations. Make sure you are on the same page when you establish the relationship. If they say no, it doesn’t hurt to ask why. You may gain insights that can help you land a yes next time. Then start looking for someone else.

Leveraging your Sponsors

A sponsor, on the other hand, happens organically and is based on a deep trust. Typically, you can’t ask someone to be your sponsor, because they have to believe in your work ethic and your ability to produce results repeatedly. If you haven’t found a sponsor, take a hard look at your results and personal brand. There could be some underlying reasons that you aren’t aware of, which are preventing others from sponsoring you. Hopefully, your mentor can help you in this area.

Once you have a sponsor it’s time to leverage them. Keep them informed about your aspirations, career goals, and desired opportunities. Don’t be shy about asking them to pick up the phone and make a call on your behalf. Make it easy for them though. Give them talking points about why you would be good in the role and have the hiring manager’s contact information prepared, if they don’t already have it. In some cases, you won’t know who your sponsors are, but they are advocating for you in the workplace when you need more visibility. If you do know who they are, be sure to thank your sponsors when they support you. A simple handwritten card should suffice, but a gift basked during the holidays doesn’t hurt (if your budget affords it).

Whatever you do, never burn a bridge with a sponsor. They are spending political currency and risking their reputation when they vouch for you. It’s best to make sure you really want the job if you ask for a recommendation and are offered the position as a result. If you don’t follow through, they’ll think twice next time you ask them for support.

Your career is a journey and finding mentors and sponsors is part of it. Both will be important to your success, but having a sponsor to help you move through the organization will be critical.

Lastly, when you reach the top, remember to pay it forward and mentor or sponsor emerging talent. You were once in their shoes and now have the opportunity to advance the career of others. Use your power wisely.

If you want career coaching and support, plus hands on accountability, to get ahead in your career faster, schedule a one-on-one EDIT Your Life™ Jumpstart call today! Let’s get you fast-tracked to reaching your goals and living a life you love.

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