Value – “a principle or quality (that is) intrinsically valuable or desirable” Merriam-Webster Dictionary
In honor of it being the last week of December, I am joining the “year-end review” crowd. That is, I’m reviewing how last year went for me and thinking how next year can be better. I’ve done this in a big way other years, starting with detailed descriptions of my dreams and my ideal day. After that would come the systematic breaking down of elements of that day into bigger then smaller chunks that would be accomplished each month, week or day.
Depending on your personality, that process could sound very interesting or very exhausting. I used to really enjoy giving myself the freedom to daydream – I actually came up with some pretty cool ideal days! And being able to reduce a big idea into achievable tasks was satisfying. I liked having end a map for the year ahead, full of action points.
Sounds good, right? But after the initial burst of energy, which ran out sometime in February, I’d look at my giant flowchart with a mix of fatigue and discouragement. Turned out, imagining what I wanted was much easier than the day-to-day work involved…
I’ve been reading Michael Hyatt’s articles recently. He writes a lot about goal-setting and time management, and one of the great points he makes is this – Know Your Why. In other words, we need to have a strong reason for each goal we set, one we can refer back to when doubt, confusion or just plain boredom sets in. Hyatt’s idea led me to approach my year-end review in a different way this time around.
Knowing the ‘why’ for all my goals made a lot of sense. But I soon realized that I needed to first step back and explore the ‘why’ behind my bigger dreams. Because, what good is it for me to know what I want to accomplish if I don’t have a motivation that will truly inspire me over the long haul?
That’s when the thought of values came to mind (Michael Hyatt touches on this, too). As the definition states, values are qualities that we consider desirable. Each of us has a set of values that have great influence over how we think and act. The thing is, we aren’t always aware of what they are. Perhaps we’ve inherited the values our parents held, or, we’ve adopted the values of our peers.
I decided to take an honest look at what my strongest values have been over the years, and it wasn’t a pretty sight. Here’s my short list:
- Success = financial gain + notoriety + importance in the world
- Being considered valuable and needed by others
- Proving myself by what I do – impressing others to feel good about myself
Those were values that acurately defined how I thought about and lived out my life – ouch. They were self and others-centered, just like I was. And I listed the results of living by those values:
- Self-centered thinking
In my next blog, I’ll share share how I’m trying to reshape those outdated values.
In the meantime, take a few minutes to write out your set of values. Be honest with yourself – do you like what you see?