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May 2016 be the year of stepping out and leaping into your wildest dreams!


Have you made your resolutions and set your visions?

Do you dare to? Or has life taught you in years past that no matter what you promise to change for the better, you’ll end up back in the same old boat?

Well, there is one little factor that can help you to make resolutions and dreams that are more in alignment with the life you want to live.

One simple thing that can help to keep you strong even when things get tough.

We’re talking about Core Values.


I just spent a week with my eldest sister in Cambodia over Christmas. I want to share her story with you because she is such an inspiration for following your dreams.

Plus, what kept coming up in the conversations that unfolded over our days together, was how her core values have kept her strong on her path.

Seeing her move towards her fullest life is such a beautiful reflection of the fact that if we want to see our ideal world become a reality, we all have to step up and live our best life.

Whatever that is for each of us.


My sister Jen and I celebrating Christmas in Cambodia with a birthday cake for Jesus (a thank-you cake from her loving students).


So, my sis, she is 52. The first-born of 10 kids. I’m number 9. Up until 48 she lived a ‘comfortable’ suburban life in Perth, working as a teacher at the same school for 21 years, and bringing up her son beyond an age that he could fly the nest.

She was existing, just holding up under the pressures of meeting obligations and expectations of being the eldest daughter, of being a single mum, of being the ever-reliable employee.

The signs of pressure were there. Stories of too much to do and too little time. Niggling health problems. A theme running of not being able to say no. Moaning. Groaning. Lack of energy. Dullness. A heaviness of being.

Just like you would be if the weight of the world was on your shoulders.

Then, all in good time, her son got to the age that she knew he could thrive without her. She did a thorough job, he was in his 20’s. (And he is rocking life).

And then she dared to dream.

She had always wanted to do volunteer aid work.

Now the world was her oyster.


Being the responsible eldest child, she is a planner. To this day she accounts for every single penny, riel or dong on a detailed spreadsheet.

We do love laughing at our differences.

When I first took off overseas at the age of 23 to do a short volunteer stint in Vanuatu I started planning about 3 months beforehand.

I was off… ready or not.

She started planning 2 years beforehand. She took only the best English Language Teacher training course available. She started learning the language of her destination country. She packed her boxes with numbers and inventories.

She was off… Ready. Set. Go.


It started during those 2 years of planning. Signs of Life. Sprouting anew…

A sparkle in the eyes. Cheeky smiles. Excited giggles. Stories full of amazement. New learning. An opening to the unknown.

Stepping into your dream has a way of taking years off your life.


So catching up with her recently was a joy and lots of laughs.

But it hasn’t been an easy couple of years for her in Cambodia.

She stepped up into a management position which wasn’t her forte. She worked longer hours than she’d like. She struggled with corruption. She didn’t always have the teaching outcomes she desired. She wasn’t always able to act autonomously.

But what became so evident in our all-too-short time together, is that the core values of truth and justice were driving and supporting her.

Even when things didn’t go as planned, if she had acted with the most honesty, stood for equality and advocated for justice then she could reconcile whatever happened eventually. The times when justice prevailed gave her a boost to keep on going. Even the act of hanging in there to honour the agreed upon contract kept her in alignment with what she believes.

Of course there are other core values at work for her as well. Community, curiosity, fun.


Jen radiant and relaxed in her element.

So, what are core values?

Core values are the principles of life that really matter to us. They are the benchmarks by which we determine whether we are living a “good life” or not.

When we act in alignment with core values we tend to feel energised and fulfilled.

When we are making choices that are out of sync with our core values we are more likely to feel depleted, out of control and like we are “not ourself”.


To work out what are your core values, take a moment to think about what you most value in life.

Have a look back over your life and identify those times when you were the happiest and most vibrant. Times when you felt like you were living your purpose and everything had fallen into place.

What were you doing? Who was there with you? What conditions made it such a precious time?

Another way to think about it is to reflect on what are your personal rules for living. What do you value so highly that you would say “I would never …”, or “I always …”?


Then look at those statements, those memories, and determine why they are so important for you. What is the underlying value?

Common core values include love, family, honesty, adventure, responsibility, devotion, health, growth, abundance, kindness.

My sister said it so clearly, “I can never tell a lie even if I want to!”, “I just can’t stand the corruption”, “I can’t support that because it’s not fair”. Honesty, truth, justice.

What really matters to you? What drives you and inspires you?
Let that guide your dreams for the year.
Recall it in times of doubt to support you as the dream unfolds.


So, if you have already set your visions, or if you are thinking of taking a quiet moment this month to think about what you want from this year, then it’s a good time to write down your core values and check in if what you want really matches up with what you most deeply value.

Core values typically change over time and it’s worth checking in regularly.

Does what you say you stand for really resonates with you now? Is it an outdated belief from an old time, an old you? Is it someone else’s value that you’ve adopted but doesn’t really ring true for you? Is it kind of important but not really a deal breaker? Are you clear in what you stand for?


Once you get clear you can use these core values throughout the year.

When it comes time to make decisions – when to stay or go, which job to take, what exercise to do, which diet to follow, to say yes or no, what to prioritise, where to put your energy, what to work towards – you can check in with your list of core values and use them as a guide to keep you on your path.


As we go into the new year, my sister, like many of us, doesn’t really know what the coming year will bring.

But the thing is that she’s already on the dream train.

See, once you start, it doesn’t really stop.

It doesn’t really matter where it takes you, what unexpected detours happen, when it stops in one station for longer than expected, when the tracks switch, or even when the train takes you back to where you got on.

It’s all a forward journey.

And it simultaneously deepens the borders of your heart as it expands the boundaries of your mind.


Those sweet signs of being in alignment with core values are there.

She now regularly steps into the unknown and expects things to work out for the best. She hugs better. Laughs easier. Manages to say no more often. Allows fear sit only on the edge as a bystander. Puts curiosity and love in the driver’s seat.

Life is being lived and it looks beautiful.


Jen in Viet Nam


So, my friends, we wish for you a year of dreams coming alive in a way that makes you feel great!

What dream are you going to leap into this year?
What is going to be the wind under your wings?




Happy New Year from Etai, Jen & Therese!



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