It is all about values

Only now, more than half way through my PhD do I realise what my PhD is about. It is all about values.

It has always been. I just never managed to see the forest for the trees.

So here is to clarity: Knowing that I am all about values makes me want to go to work with a bounce in my step and just sit down with a feeling of eeeeehaaaaaa in the morning. Instead of a stubborn yawn and countless mantras to push me through work that had stopped exciting me.

So here is to finding out what is driving you and being legendary at it.  


I have always found values to be fascinating, but also really hard to pin point, work with and talk about. More than anything, I found it scary. My superhero co-supervisor Heidi mentioned that value(s) could do with further investigation during the first few months of my PhD. I remember reacting with excitement and fear. Then totally shelving that idea, mostly out of fear of stepping into a large open space filled with old men making me feel stupid.  So much for being open minded.  

Now willing to take the leap, scared and excited nonetheless. Values intrigue me because we all have them, often without wanting to admit or think about it too much. If you are asked to talk about your values, you are automatically forced to reflect to some extent. You cannot talk about values without thinking about what is important and desirable to you. And when you do, you need to face your skeletons, even the ones that you know you have and just really do not want to have anything to do with. So, you avoid values.  

Maybe because there is often a mismatch when you ask yourself; what is the true driving force(s) in your life, and then look at your life? The common ones are I want to be successful, but I live above my parents’ garage. Family is important to me, but I never see them. I think equality is vital, but I just cannot afford to share what I have right now. When there is a mismatch you have to choose between changing something or lying to yourself. When you talk values, you automatically face yourself. And that is where the magic happens. More on that later, and how it has anything (and everything) to do with climate change and change in general.  

It is funny how things align when something is right. When you are open for it, there is no way to avoid it. It keeps on showing up. Values were always part of the background of my research, but mixed with 100 other things. But then I attended a Transformational Workshop with Monica Sharma that confronted me with my values and held me accountable with regular check-ins. I discovered that one of my main values are authenticity, and yet I tried to hide from values in my research. Despite how much I love learning about it, talking about, reflecting about it, how much it gets me to do, and the fact that it is in my data. Suddenly I kept seeing values in everything I read and attended. It popped up in the slides, books, and podcasts. And when they didn’t, values were the missing link. Values are not just the red thread of my phd, but also in life.