How an Inner Foundation Can Keep You On-Track

By Jalene Case

Life bumped me off-track recently. I needed to catch-up with myself, to remind myself of what matters, to ground myself in who I want to be and how I want to show up. I started by stopping, which isn’t my natural inclination. My default action when I’m overwhelmed is to focus on doing more faster and working longer hours. I’m great at staying busy. That’s the problem.

I finally realized that in order to catch up with myself, I would need to press pause and reconnect with my foundation so my actions aligned with the future I wanted to create.

A strong foundation can give you solid ground to stand on when your world feels out of control. It can be a reliable touchstone for reconnecting with what motivates you from the inside out and what defines you. It can steer your actions and get you back on track.

Here’s what I did to get back on track:

First, I did what I call a brain-dump. I wrote out all the things that were in my head to get done on my whiteboards. This process helped me see everything together to get a sense of the big picture. I energized myself by standing up, moving, using colored markers, and listening to music.

Next, I marked everything that I had made a commitment to do and wrote the date it needed to be done by.

Then I stopped to revisit my foundation so I could use it for making decisions about what to do next. Here are the elements that form my foundation, which I refresh at least annually to keep me grounded and inspired.

Touchstone Foundation Elements

Annual Theme
What is my focus for the year? This is a word, phrase, or sentence that’s a guiding light for the year.

In 2021, my annual theme is “choose & grow.” I had to chuckle because choosing was exactly what I was facing at the moment! The word grow reminded me that I want to focus on growing my business. This helped me cross off some of the things I had written on the whiteboard.

Core Values
Who am I at my best? What influences hard decisions? Now is when values go to work. In other words, this is what values look like when they’re operationalized.

For the last couple of years, I’ve reduced my values to only two that I truly use to make tough decisions and describe how I want to show up. (You can find more about this practice in Dare to Lead by Brene Brown.) I looked at my two values of usefulness and connection, and again, crossed-off more to do items.

Purpose
What is the belief or cause that drives me? This is a phrase or sentence that inspires and motivates how you want to live your life. It’s a thread that weaves throughout your life, a theme that shows up repeatedly.

My purpose is to help people connect with themselves and each other so they can do what matters most. I know that when I’m doing something related to my purpose, it’s important to me and will bring a sense of satisfaction and joy.

Love Notes to Myself
What will I remind myself of when times get rough? These are 2-5 words, phrases, or sentences that will energize you when you need it most. These can change as often as you wish.

I realized that this was one of those tough times! Reading my love notes was a way to give myself compassion, tenderness, and love. These are a couple of them: K.I.S.S (Keep It Simple Sweetie), Be you. I ended up adding this new one: Step Out/Step Up to remind myself that when I’m growing, I’m stepping outside my comfort zone and stepping up to a new level.

By the time I finished revisiting all of my foundation elements, I felt focused, calm and clear about my direction.

Life will knock you off-track once in a while, especially when you’re the kind of person who is drawn to learning, growing, challenges and changes. Building a solid foundation can give you the inner strength to get out there and be the kind of person that you want to be. If you have questions about these touchstone foundation elements, reach out to me a Jalene@JaleneCase.com.