Taking Care of What Is Important
Successfully taking care of what is important to us requires conscious and pro-active management. Safeguarding and taking care of what is important to us, sets us up for achieving happiness and being at peace.
How easily could you describe your top/priority values? What are your plans and strategies for actualizing them?
Is your daily life congruent with these values? In what areas are you not taking care of what is important to you? What would have to change to be more in sync with what is important to you?
Gaining Awareness and Clarity
Many people run on automatic. A sound starting point is to make separate well considered lists of your top 10 values. The next step is to prioritise each list of top 10 values.
Do this exercise for each key life area:
- Core life values (e.g. freedom, peace, love)
- Health and well being
- Family and friendships
- Couples relationships
- Lifestyle and
A list of work/career values, for example, might include job security, income level and opportunities for advancement. Maybe a family friendly workplace culture is important to you. Maybe you put a priority on challenges and variety.
Top values for relationships commonly include trust, fidelity and good communication. Some couples list compatible financial decisions and quality time together.
Some of the values on your list will be easily measured and actioned. Like income level, or compatible decision making. Other values, such as ‘good communication’ require more clarity and detail. For example what does ‘good communication’ mean to you? How would you define ‘challenges’ in the context of work?
Core life values like love, freedom, wealth or happiness are too vague, general or abstract to be well managed. We need to be specific about exactly what each of these values means to us. Consider the core values of freedom. How would your life be if you were ‘free’? How would you describe a typical day or month or year? What might you be doing, experiencing or choosing? Are your decisions and choices taking you towards freedom or not? If not, what is getting in the way? What needs to change?
Values and how we define them, reflect a huge range of individual differences. For Peter, freedom is being single and renting on his own. He does not want the responsibilities and ties of home ownership. Sonia said freedom is having no debt or mortgage. Jason nominated being a millionaire as it meant freedom of choice. As a student of Buddhism Lachlan nominated achieving a state of non attachment. Carol said freedom meant excellent health and fitness. She also put this on her list of health and well being values.
Asking the right questions gives us clarity. This enables us to be specific in developing strategies and planning. Questioning skills ensure that values are integrated into all major decisions.
Any decision that has the potential to impact our lives, needs to be congruent with taking care of what is important to us. Starting a family, committing to a relationship or moving to a foreign country all have the potential for massive and long lasting impact. In order to avoid potential regret, it is essential that these sorts of decisions are a happy fit with what we hold as most important. To read more about regret see What Can I Do About Regret.
Having a depth of understanding around all of our values makes it much easier to assess how in sync we are with them. It allows us to review and make appropriate adjustments. An added bonus is that decisions and choices are often more straightforward when we can easily reference them to our priority values. If you would like to read more on this topic see Values Based Conflict, The Power Of Values and Living Congruently