006 – An Intro to Values with Apryl Schlueter
In today’s episode, I chat with Apryl Schlueter, author and happiness coach to high achievers. Apryl shares her thoughts about the importance of values and how to have fun while getting things done.
[00:05:52] Have fun, get stuff done
[00:07:02] Awareness and action
[00:11:42] Converse with the voices
[00:15:16] Examine your values
[00:21:15] Tips for newbies
[00:22:47] Living your values
[00:26:27] Understanding others
Note: Some of the resources above may be affiliate links, meaning I’d get a commission if you use that link to make a purchase (at no cost to you).
In this episode, I chat with Apryl Schlueter, an author, happiness coach, and founder of The Cheerful Mind. We talk about how to have fun while getting things done, how to navigate around blocks, and why understanding our values is so important. My biggest takeaway was that when you’re triggered, or feeling a strong negative emotion towards a situation or person, it’s likely that one or more of your core values was violated. And I think when you become aware of your values (or what’s most important to you), you’re in a better position to actively create a life you want. Let’s get to it.
Sharlene: What is your mission with your work? And what is your vision for the world?
Apryl: I think that one of my personal missions is to make, to let people know that they matter. I think that a lot of times, the world places more attention on things that aren’t as important because of just the way that the media is and trying to say, ‘Oh this person is super rich’ or ‘This person is super popular’, or ‘This person wore these shoes’, or something like that. We place a lot of value on celebrity and trying to be famous, and aspiring to do that. And I just feel like I want people to feel that they’re their own celebrity in their own right, and that they have an amazing story to tell, and they have amazing contributions to the world. And I think it ties to something that I’ve struggled with in my life in terms of just feeling like I have to hold to the standard to be somebody. So, I want to inspire people to understand that they matter at all levels. No matter what it is that you do in life, as long as you’re doing something that is based on your passion, then it matters and all that. So, that’s my mission, personally, and I already forgot what the second question was. What is the vision that I have for the world? I think that there’s a lot of negativity that surrounds us and I think because negative thoughts and emotions have such a charge to them, they tend take to overtake the things that we crave most which is more happiness and joy. And so, my hope is for a world that comes with less judgment, less unrealistic standards and expectations and embracing authenticity and uniqueness as much as possible, in hopes that that would bring more positivity into the world. That’s me.
Sharlene: I like it. What are the biggest problems that your clients come to you for? Because you work mainly with entrepreneurs and leaders, right?
Apryl: Yes. So, I think I work with people who self-identify as a high achiever or a recovering perfectionist, or a perfectionist, whichever space in their life they’re in, and people who tend to place themselves low on their personal priority lists because they care so much about serving others. And in that comes this fueling passion by being of service to other people, but sometimes to the detriment of their own happiness, sanity and stress. So, I think what they struggle with is just trying to figure out how to juggle the demands of life with their own drive and aspirations, and trying to make sure that everything, maybe because they have multiple passions and love to be busy, trying to find the calm and the happiness and joy that should come with all of these accomplishments. And so, sometimes it’s more of ‘I have this really big goal and I want to accomplish it, I just don’t really know the steps’, or maybe, ‘I want to do it in a creative way that doesn’t seem normal or just seems like the normal path’, or people who allow their mindset to drive them into feeling like they’re not good enough and having those fears or guilt around whatever it is that they’re doing that they can’t proceed and make progress in the way that they want to. And people who are focused on the more important things in life, and being happy, fostering really great relationships, being successful but also not letting their social life or their relationships, or their ability to be loved and love get in the way or be hampered by their drive and ambition. So, yeah, I think it’s people who want to – and I say this and it’s so funny because my tagline really still sticks with me to this day, but this idea of we’re all going to get stuff done, but how do you have more fun while you’re getting stuff done because it’s one thing to do but another thing to do with passion.
Sharlene: So, how do you have more fun while getting stuff done?
Apryl: Good question, and I think that if you were to ask anyone this question, there should be a very big slew of different responses depending on the person. But for me, I think part of it takes this intention of knowing what is it that brings you joy and going after that, and not allowing the fears of what you feel you should be doing in order to get yourself on a certain path get in the way of having that time to really deeply connect with people. So, I think fostering relationships is allowing yourself to tap into creativity and not just checking the boxes, but really understanding what it is that you want, whether it’s trying to go through that process of searching for what you’re passionate about, but once you know what that is, really leveraging your true personality to just encompass that and doing things in a way that you’re not sacrificing who you are as a person. You’re just doing it because you care about it and you’re passionate about it, and not just doing it because you have to.
Sharlene: So, what’s the first step to knowing what you want?
Apryl: I mean, I think that the first step to doing anything or making any sort of decision is just having awareness about what you know, with the information that you have. Maybe because sometimes we know certain things but we don’t know what we don’t know, right? So, it’s really taking a look back and – one of the things that I’m super passionate about is not going to look at books or scientific facts or statistics to decide your path, but really getting to know who you are as a person and looking back at your history and saying, ‘Okay, I really like this’, ‘I didn’t so much like this’ and using that as a compass to help you craft your next move. It’s always good to have some sort of stretch of a vision, but it doesn’t necessarily need to be. ‘I have to have it all figured out and I know what the next 15 years is going to look like for me.’ Because it might feel that way when you’re younger, where you just have to go to school and just kind of get a sense of what is it that you’re passionate about. But, as you get older, just trying to think about what lights you up and what you’re passionate about, and what’s important to you. It’s really, really important to take your experiences and understand what about those experiences are things that you want to continue to have as part of your life, or do you dive a little deeper, and the things that you don’t like to maybe understand that maybe that’s not your path. And so, really just using this process of awareness and self-reflection to say, ‘Hey, I experienced this thing. What did I learn from it?’ So, taking the awareness and going to a place where you can reflect on that awareness and then use that to then figure out your next move by taking action and making a decision on what’s next. And it doesn’t need to be anything daunting. It could just be the, ‘Here’s what’s my next step right in front of me.’ It doesn’t need to be, ‘Okay I’m eventually going to do this, so, I need to position myself.’ So, just worrying about having that right balance of planning but also allowing yourself to see what can manifest in that unplanned space.
Sharlene: I like that, the importance of space and taking action as well.
Apryl: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, if you’re so focused on just doing and taking the next step and not almost breathing, there’s a lot of things that can get missed along the way and I speak this out of experience: always feeling like my calendar needed to be filled to the brim – not that it’s not always filled to the brim now, but making the things that I fill my life with more intention, more impactful, more aligned with where I think I want to go. And as soon as I know that there’s something that I experience that maybe wasn’t the smartest idea because I didn’t know any better, making sure that I take that learning and apply it immediately because you can say, ‘Oh yeah, I should work out more’, but you could also just continue to say that and not work out – where you’re not really moving forward. You’re just stating the obvious. And so, being able to take action is that huge thing, to have that awareness and be able to make something of it, right? It’s like if you read a self-help book and you don’t use anything from that book to take action. Then, it’s just an idea. If you’re left inspired but then you don’t do anything with it, then it’s just another idea that you absorbed.
Sharlene: And then let go…
Apryl: Until somebody else has a similar message and inspires you to do something from that. So, a lot of times, whenever I take any action now, I think about what is it that I want to get out this? And maybe I am reading a self-help book and it’s just more to just experience it and potentially not take any action. But if you have intention going into it, then at least you know that there’s an action that’s being taken. It’s like, I might be reading this book just for leisure. I don’t intend to take anything from it. I just want to absorb information, and that’s totally fine. But if you are using inspirational books to help you take action and then you don’t take action, it’s almost like, what are you doing? What is it there for? And being in that inspired place is such a great place to be because it makes you want to take action. It’s just, how do you navigate around anything that might get in your way?
Sharlene: How do you navigate around anything that might get in your way?
Apryl: I think it goes back to just this idea of awareness, but being able to face whatever is getting in the way. A lot of times when we’re afraid of something, we just try to avoid it because we don’t want to think about it. So, sometimes I personally will go overboard and experience something that I have some self-talk that’s happening. I think the usual person might just say, ‘Oh, I’m afraid. But I’m just afraid and I’m not going to go a little bit deeper and understand why is it that I’m afraid.’ But when I get triggered, when I get angry, when I’m sad, when I have some sort of negative affiliated emotion that doesn’t feel good, I will allow myself to go there; which is a really hard thing to do because you’re exposing vulnerability. Sometimes you don’t want to admit that you’re afraid of certain things. So, being able to have the courage to say, ‘Wow, I was really upset by that’ and instead of going into the mindset of, ‘I’m a bad person because I’m feeling this way’, I’m really trying to listen to the voices that are happening in my head that might not be spoken aloud. And asking myself, ‘Okay, I’m going to bring this to the surface. Is this true or how do I want to proceed knowing that I’m having these conversations? So, does that mean that I’m talking to myself? Not necessarily; but it is bringing to light some of these inner voices in our heads that we all have, that bring up some sort of fear, insecurity, lack of confidence and really trying to deeply analyze from both an emotional and a logical perspective, and trying to bring that together so that I don’t get stuck in this place of ‘Oh my gosh I’m not good enough’, ‘I can’t do that’ or ‘This isn’t possible’ because we all struggle through it. But, if we’re not able to have that conversation with those inner voices, they’re going to continue to be there and because of that whole negativity thing where these emotions are so much stronger, then the joyful ones that we want to have is really, really hard to calm them if you’re just trying to keep them there. It’s like, you’re not releasing them. They’re just kind of hovering there. So, that’s kind of how I try to deal with it. It’s not that I’m, ‘Oh, here I go again’, but I can feel that emotion and I let myself sit in it, which is super uncomfortable. But it gives me an opportunity to process and then move on because otherwise, I think the old version of me would have sat there for hours and hours on end just feeling like, ‘I’m in a funk, I’m going to be stuck here for a while.’ And those funk periods would last so much longer than they do now because I allow myself to have a conversation with those voices.
Sharlene: I like that. It’s like giving the dark emotions a chance to breathe.
Apryl: Yeah, absolutely. They need to breathe too. Sometimes they’re just there to protect you, which you want to come at this place of compassion to say, ‘Hey, I know you’re trying to look out for me and I appreciate that you’re there for that. But this is something that I really want, and how can I set you aside a little bit so that I can just go and take that leap, and know that I’ll be taken care of.’ It’s pretty deep stuff.
Sharlene: What role does understanding our values play in what we’ve talked so far?
Apryl: Yeah. So, values is such an important topic to me just because I feel like it drives everything in our lives, all the decisions we make, all the things that we’re passionate about can really come to light when you examine your values. And values at the core of it, is a super simple idea. It’s the things that are most important to you, and the things that are the basis of just how you live. So, I’m not the type of person who has been a self-help junkie since I was a teenager or anything like that, but what’s interesting as I went through coach training and realizing that there was this intuitive nature of just the world – because I’m a very logical person – understanding how my values brought to light all of the conflicts that I’ve ever had in my life, and helped me in those times when I was indecisive, make a decision so much faster which a lot of people that I work with and myself included, struggle with this idea of ‘How can I be more efficient, because I can’t just sit here and spin my wheels and not make any movement.’ That indecisiveness and lack of confidence was sometimes hampered by the idea that I wasn’t thinking about what I valued most. And so, for me, I know that some of my top values are fun, authenticity, accomplishment, connection – all of these things. I love surrounding myself with people. I love doing silly, fun, playful things that may not be seen in a more professional environment as okay, but it’s part of my personality. And so, the interesting thing, even though I loved being employed back in the day when I had my own job or I was working for somebody else. I loved that feeling of contributing to a cause or a project, or whatnot. But it was realizing that when things weren’t fun anymore, the career path that I was in, it would become stagnant. So, knowing that I also like to embed creativity, even though I never saw myself as a creative person, being somebody who graduated with an Engineering degree and was very nerdy about math and science – this whole piece of creativity just kind of, I just assumed that that wasn’t part of me. But as I’ve grown older and I’ve started to realize that there is a very creative nature about me. I’m definitely not the type of person that likes to do things the standard way. I like giving myself a challenge, maybe sometimes in a way that’s detrimental to productivity. But I have to focus on the fun of it because monotony gets boring and all of that. So, trying to make sure that I focus on the fun keeps everything super exciting, motivating, inspiring. I am definitely a driven, motivated individual, so achievement and accomplishment is super huge too. I like working on projects that have some sort of end goal that I’m working toward. So, I’m very aware of these things and these things that are important to me. I also mentioned authenticity, which is really being fully self-expressed. I like being able to be myself in an environment and not letting the environment mold me, which is probably why I ultimately ended up as an entrepreneur. But I think in terms of values, whenever I got to a point where I was indecisive and I wasn’t really sure how to respond, how to move forward, I could go back and benchmark the decision against those top four values. And it would usually bring me to some sort of resolution so much faster. And not to say that those are my only values, right? I value loyalty. I value prestige in some sense. I like things that are packaged very neatly, but I also like the messiness of just being off the cuff and being real. So, there are other things that are important to me but at the same token, sometimes there’s a priority order and you have to think about the values that are coming to play in any situation if it’s not one of your top ones and seeing what comes up and which direction you’d want to go. And values also help you realize sometimes that when you are triggered or when you are elated, any extreme emotion that you feel, there is a fundamental value that’s tied underneath it. So, the opportunity to be on this podcast and have this conversation with you obviously is one of my top values of connection. Of course, I’m going to say yes to an opportunity where I can have a conversation with people and go deep and talk about anything. But in another sense when I’m triggered, if I am talking to somebody and I’m noticing that they’re very passive-aggressive or it seems like there’s something that they’re hiding, I will get triggered by that because I value transparency. I really like having an open and honest communication and when I feel like there’s a barrier or a wall, it starts to shake me and cause me some frustration and I have to navigate that. So, values are so important because you can see what is truly important to you and you can use this as a really easy decision-maker factor, especially if you’re very indecisive – which sometimes, I am.
Sharlene: So, how do we determine what our values are if it’s something we’ve never done before?
Apryl: I think that example of just watching for those extreme emotions and saying, ‘That really made me upset’. What was the value that was being conflicted? Or, ‘Oh my gosh, this is awesome!’ What about this situation made me so happy? That’s a very easy way to understand what your values are. And I think the easiest thing to do, if you really want to hone in to some of those top values is literally go to Google, type in “values assessment”. There’s so many different kinds of assessments out there that are available, that can help you kind of understand what it is that’s important to you. You can also look at very descriptive words and narrow it down. That’s kind the process that I like looking at sometimes because there’s so many different words to explain certain feelings and different aspects of someone’s personality, and just figuring out what resonates with you. And then your values can also change as time goes on, depending on what’s important. I think family has always been a priority to me and a very big value. But it definitely shifted when I moved from being an adult to a parent. How does that play a role? So, things can shift and some values can come and go, but most of them will stay as part of your values system. It’s just a matter of what is the most prominent, depending on what you’re experiencing at that time in your life.
Sharlene: So now after we’ve discovered what our values are, how can we make sure we stick to them and is it normal to slip?
Apryl: Yeah. I definitely think there’s having the value and then actually taking action on the value. I can say that honesty is an important value of mine. But if somebody asks me if they want me to do something or go hang out with them and I silently don’t want to, but I say that I do, there’s definitely – I’m not walking the talk, right? So, there’s the aspect of understanding what’s important to you and if you’re not taking action in the way that it aligns with your actual values, there maybe some, again this voice of what’s happening behind the scenes. Are you saying yes because you don’t want to hurt their feelings? So, you’re going to lie instead. But if honesty is really important, what would it be like to actually tell the truth and say, ‘I appreciate the offer to spend some time together but no thanks’, so that you don’t have to be in conflict with that value. And sometimes, people don’t do it. Or people say being healthy is a huge value and then they’re eating things, doing things that are a detriment to their body, like just not working out or eating unhealthy food or allowing yourself to stress to the nth degree. So, how can you be more in alignment with that? That’s definitely something that with my clients and even with myself, I go through this annual process of, ‘What are the things that are most important to me, how do I actually live that?’ And not to say that it needs to be, to the nth degree I need to work out seven days a week. I need to eat only kale and go vegetarian, or whatever that is. It’s more of, how can you honor that given everything else that you’ve got going on? Because it’s not just you value one thing and that’s going to be what you base your life off of. There’s multiple values. It’s just going to be what are going to be those top things that you’re going to focus on in that current time period and how do you actually act on it? So, there’s a lot of being intentional, a lot of being very mindful about how you can execute that in a way that works with you. So, I really want to be a healthy role model for my kids and I also have a very busy lifestyle. And while I would love to work out every day, I know that it’s not realistic. So, I focus on things like making sure I try to sleep eight hours a night. I make that goal and sometimes it doesn’t happen, but having that intention to try and do that. Setting myself a bedtime, having routines and habits that are going to foster that desire that I want to have to be more healthy, and just even focusing on just eating three meals a day, not just waiting until I’m starving and then having to run to the McDonald’s drive-thru because I waited too long to eat. So, different little things that you can take action on to live that lifestyle. I think sometimes people think that it has to be an all or nothing thing and it doesn’t. And that’s where people get stuck, running themselves down because they’re trying to overachieve because it’s either an all or nothing. If they’re not going to work out every day, then they’re not going to work out at all. So, you have to definitely find that healthy balance for you and go for that.
Sharlene: And you mentioned that following your values decreases the time it takes to make a decision. So, what are some other benefits in your work or your life of following your values?
Apryl: I think knowing what your values are, it really helps when you’re interacting with other things or other people. I never thought about this before I became a coach or before I really started digging into personal development. But I love asking other people what their values are because it gives me a direct shot at understanding who they are as a person and if our personalities would align. So, if they say that they care about success and material things, and having the best, newest car – not that that’s bad stuff, but if that’s their value system, they might not align with who I am. And I’m not judging. It’s just a matter of, okay it’s almost kind of a way to connect to people. So, I love that. And even when – and I say this a lot with my clients when they’re trying to look for a job, that either is in line with their passions or whatnot, I ask them to look up the mission statement, look up if they have listed values for that company. Because then you can see if – I think there was one company that one of my clients was looking at and it had some really, really interesting values that as she was working there and she wasn’t… there were things that were conflicting with some of the things that she was passionate about. Once we went back and said, ‘Hey let’s take a look at those values,’ it became very apparent that the focus of that company was not in alignment with what she was passionate about in life. And so, really, really thinking about that, before you step into something – if all they care about is grit and working hard, and making things happen at all costs – do they have regard for family, well-roundedness, whatever that is? And if that’s something that was important to that individual, that could be a potential flag for a tough experience in the workplace. And there are some companies that definitely do focus on the business is the number one thing. And if you’re somebody who wants to care about all the people, then that might not be the job for you. So, it definitely manifests in a way to connect to things that are more like you and help you find your people, help you find your passion so much faster than just meeting somebody and having a sense of who they are. And I mean, you might ask questions. If you go on a first date, you want to ask them hypothetical questions and say, “What is it that you do?” and blah, blah, blah. But then it’s like, “What are you really passionate about?” And that’s when you start to be able to connect. So, values play such a huge role in that, whether you believe it or not because – do you want to have children someday? Do you value having a family? That can be a potential deal breaker if you are somebody who’s absolutely enamored with children and want to have a huge family of your own; and if somebody says ‘No, I’m just okay, just having responsibility for me’, that’s something to think about.
Sharlene: Cool. Thank you. I think I want to end it here.
Sharlene: So, are there any projects that you want to share and where can people find you?
Apryl: Yeah. I am definitely just all over the place in terms of the different things that I’m trying. In terms of helping people, I have different coaching options. There’s the private coaching, and I also run – with my friend Gary Ware – we are running The Accountability Success Circle, which is really geared towards helping people focus on what it is that they’re doing, but also building the person underneath that to the strongest that it can be to really maximize the overall individual. It’s more about how do you improve who you are being to impact more positively what it is that you’re doing in the world. That’s pretty much it. You can really – I’ve got a lot of projects that I’ve got in the pipeline, and if you’re a reader and you care a lot about work/life balance, you can check out my book called Finding Success in Balance: My Journey to the Cheerful Mind which is available on Amazon and bookstores nationwide. And that’s it.
Sharlene: Thank you so much, Apryl.
Apryl: Thank you so much for having me. This was super fun.
Sharlene: It was, thanks.
Thank you for sharing your time with me and listening to LIFT. If this episode resonated with you, I’d appreciate it if you would take a moment to leave a review. That way, more people can discover this resource, and together, we can accelerate good change in the world. Thanks so much. Until next time.