Let Your Fortune (Cookie) Be Your Guide

Julie Jones
Sunday, January 22nd, is the Chinese New Year and the Year of the (Water) Rabbit. Chinese New Year is a time to seek out good fortune, health, wealth, and longevity as a jump start to Spring. It’s also a time I reread those fortunes I’ve saved from fortune cookies through the years. You know the fortunes that speak to you, sound like you, or tell you wealth is coming your way.

I have had some of these fortunes for so many years the letters have faded. I keep the fortunes in a poster of Rosie the Riveter; You Can Do It! A friend gave me the poster since he felt I had Rosie the Riveter determination. In fact, one of the fortunes I have saved is “ A great pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do.” The fortune mirrors Rosie’s sentiments.

I’ve saved two others: “Aspire to be great - then help others.” and “Act with kindness. People return with goodwill to the place that has done them well."

A few years ago, as I planned for my first retirement, someone recommended the book, What Color is Your Parachute, A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers by Richard Bolles. As part of the planning exercises, the author asks you to consider your values, which describe what you treasure most in humanity. Values help establish your sense of purpose and direction and are like a compass or guiding principles. Your values define your actions -- how you choose to live and interact with others creating a life of meaning.

The self-reflection on values was a thought-provoking exercise. I’m not sure I had ever slowed down enough to identify my most important values. This exercise helped me define what I admire in others, what provides meaning for me, and how I use these values to make decisions or evaluate events or situations.

A few values or guiding words I selected during the exercise were competence/learner, gratitude/kindness, developer, and contribution. The three fortunes I have saved match these core values.

I think one of the reasons you save fortunes or post certain quotes is that the fortunes or quotes resonate with your values or guiding principles.

Think about what you have saved. Are there common themes that emerge? Barrie Davenport, a bestselling author and certified life coach, provides a comprehensive listing of values for you to choose from on her website, live bold and bloom. In addition, the site offers a series of questions to determine what might be most important to you. Some of these questions include:
  • What do I look for in a friend or spouse? Mentor or guide?
  • What gives me a sense of fulfillment and meaning?
  • What qualities would I expect to see in the best version of myself?

She suggests grouping the values into common themes and then prioritizing those most important to you. Consider the many dimensions you live your life - family, career, and faith as examples.

2023 - The Year of the Rabbit

Ironically, I was born in an earlier year of the (Water) Rabbit. Rabbits are defined as calm, gentle, and loving but highly determined and responsible people. The actions and behaviors described for rabbits align with many of my values and, hopefully, my behaviors as well.

Do you see any common behaviors in those fortunes you’ve saved or quotes you have posted?

During the sixteen days of the Chinese New Year, take some time to reflect on your values and behaviors using the question prompts below.    
  • Access the live bold and bloom website and consider your top values. Then, group them into themes, and prioritize them in order of importance. Pick your top 5 or 6. 
  • Describe what these values mean to you.  
  • How well do these values align with all parts of your life? Are you able to “live” your life in a way that aligns with your values?
  • What might help you gain better alignment? What choices might you need to consider?
  • How can you leverage your values to grow your skills?
  • How do your values translate to your actions?
  • What might help you align your behaviors with your values?  

Join us on our RSA Learning blog this year as we feature self-reflection, personal growth, and career development topics.