Why Aligning Your Value System Is So Important When Starting Out
“If you’ve been in this situation before you know the feeling. The feeling of not wanting to leave bed to get ready for work, the feeling of sitting aimlessly at your desk blankly looking at your screen, the feeling of looking at the clock watching it tick closer to the time that you can leave.”
There were a number of events that led me to start The Fight Dietitian. I regularly talk about these with my interns, mentees and anyone who asks for my two cents about starting their own practice. I tell them about one experience in particular because of how that experience influenced my decision to work for myself and how it shaped the values that I wanted the TFD brand to uphold.
This event was a situation that many students and practitioners who reach out to me find themselves in. A situation where they do not feel they are fulfilling their purpose and they are not getting what they wanted out of their work. A big reason for this dissociation for me was a misalignment of my own values to the people I was working for.
If you’ve been in this situation before you know the feeling. The feeling of not wanting to leave bed to get ready for work, the feeling of sitting aimlessly at your desk blankly looking at your screen, the feeling of looking at the clock watching it tick closer to the time that you can leave. The worst part about this is that it penetrates into every other part of your life. Your personal relationships suffer, your physical and mental health suffers, your personality suffers, you deflate into a shadow of yourself and of your potential. This is not a fun spot to be in.
For me this was driven by the leadership team around me. To their credit, my immediate Head of Department supported me in all of my (extremely ambitious and out there) endeavours, however this was almost always halted by her seniors. This was not only discouraging, it showed me that all they really gave a toot about was making money by churning through clients. This was confirmed when one of our team meetings was overhauled by the company CEO and we were all told that we were missing the point and needed to focus on getting more cash flow through the department. That was me done.
That moment was a wakeup call to me, and I realized our value systems were so far from each other that I checked out and left within the month. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on what way you look at it, I then left this team for another that offered an even worse experience. Our value systems were stratospheres apart, luckily, I recognised this quite quickly and removed myself from that situation. In hindsight, both of these were invaluable experiences to me for a number of reasons, but they did force me to do something extremely important.
They made me deeply reflect on what my value system was, it made me appreciate how much I did not want to work in an environment outside of that, and importantly, made me determined to architect my own environment where I could uphold these. That is what lay down the foundation to the beginning of The Fight Dietitian. Not an extravagant business plan or grand marketing strategy, a set of values that I wanted to demonstrate through my work.
I am by no means saying that it is perfect or right, but I can say that every day I am now excited to get out of bed, I enjoy my days and I can happily sit in front of my laptop and work for hours and hours on end without the thought of stopping (although balance is important). This is because the work I am doing is aligned with my own core values. My idea of work now is polar opposite to what it was when this was not the case.
Identifying and upholding my value system has been the best decision I have made both in business and in my personal life. In the articles that follow I’ll explore this concept further and speak about how I have navigated that in my first two years of business, and about some of the key partnerships that have contributed to the positive evolution of myself and the business. Stay tuned.
Jordan Sullivan – TFD Head Dietitian