Mitch Shepard - 5 Steps to a More Balanced Life


The other day, my twenty-something banker said something that made my day! “Mitch,” he said, “I‘ve told several people about your values board. I was so inspired by it. I’m definitely going to do that when I get married and have a family.” Last fall, while visiting our home to have us sign some paperwork, my banker had noticed the large 36-inch-by-48-inch corkboard filled with meaningful words and colorful pictures. In answer to his inquiring look, I told him it was our values board and explained how it came to be…

About six years ago, I was sitting in the rocking chair holding my baby daughter (who’s now seven) when a friend called to tell me a story that would forever inspire me and shape my family life. My friend explained that at school that day her daughter, a senior in high school at the time, had been asked, “What’s the one thing your mother hopes she’s instilled in you by now?” My friend’s daughter—along with her classmates—shared her answer and then wrote it on a piece of paper that she folded up and tucked in her pocket. That evening, she posed the question to her mom, my friend, who described her panic at the thought of, “What if, after all this time, I learn that I haven’t taught my daughter the right stuff?” With a rapidly beating heart, my friend gave her answer: “Forgiveness.” From her pocket, her daughter removed the piece of paper and showed her mother the word she’d written on it earlier that day: “Forgiveness.” (This story still makes me cry!) As I held my sweet baby girl, I realized how much influence I would have over this tiny person and what she would grow to value. I didn’t want anything to be left to chance. So, my husband and I got clear on our values. We asked each other: What do we stand for as a family—what are the values we hold near and dear? What matters most to us? What values do we hope to instill in our children? What do we want thecore purpose of our lives to be? What do we want for ourselves individually, for our relationship as a couple, and for our family as a whole?

We finally edited our answers down to the following values words: Family, Health, Fun, Adventure, Helping Others, Gratitude, Team, Learning, Wealth. We painted each word in watercolor, as if to let the meaning soak in, and then created a huge corkboard (our first and only craft project as a couple—see photo!) and on it placed the words, along with photographs, poems, cards and pictures that depicted what they mean to us. It was a meaningful project—and has become a meaningful lens through which to view our life and our decisions. This board has served as a kind of North Star in our marriage, family, home, careers and lives. Whenever we feel out of balance, checking in with our values is the fastest way to refocus, reprioritize and rebalance—which makes it my absolute Number One tip for a life that feels peaceful and balanced.

To read the five steps, read here

This blog was originally posted on the WiRL blog by Mitch Shepard. Susan Scott, Fierce Founder, and Halley Bock, Fierce CEO, both had sessions at the WiRL Summit 2014. 

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