Why having Values makes difficult choices easy.
Have you ever found that you had to choose between two or more very difficult choices? Did it take up a lot of your time and mental energy? In this section, you will see how to make those difficult choices much easier – by using your very own values.
For the past two years I had been working very hard to create enough money in reserves. I wanted to have enough time to do what I love – to help people to create wealth for themselves. That quest however came at a cost of my health and my time: I have gained some weight and have had less time to do what I love. Naturally, not having enough time also impacts relationships and it almost affected mine. I finished my consultancy work with a major bank just a week ago, and thought: finally, some time to spend on my writing. I have been writing a book and actually completed it in 2009, but, due to my focus on money, didn’t spend any time on doing the final edits. Well, a week has gone by…
I have the privilege of having a place in the bush to escape to; a place where animals roam and the sound of crickets, animal and bird sounds fills the air with a sense of rest and a renewed sense of energy and creativity. I just got into the swing of things when my wife called and asked if I could return next week for several events:
- She finishes teaching on Monday and needs me home to share the transition.
- We have a year-end dinner with friends on Tuesday.
- We have booked a spa for our 2 year anniversary on Wednesday and Thursday.
- We have a wedding on Sunday with people whom I don’t know very well.
- She would really like it if I can participate on all these as we had already committed.
- She had just called to share again how important these all were to her.
I on the other hand had these thoughts:
- Although it has already been a week, I feel as if I just got here.
- I just started to make progress on my writing again.
- This is the first chance in two very hard years that I get to spend time on my passion.
- It will take quite some time to complete this book and
- I would need to go home and come back or,
- Go home and come back in a week, or
- Find a way to tell some or all of these people that I have other “more important” priorities for that week.
- All of these activities will cost me money and my precious time.
So, after pondering these thoughts, I discovered my choices are:
- Go home, stay for a week, then come back.
- Go home, attend a selection of the events, and come back as soon as possible.
- Stay, and tell the people that it really is my time to work on things that are important to me.
These choices kept me busy for a while, until I remembered about values. Values are things that are most important (valuable) to you. Values essentially are your rules for your life, prescribed by you, by means of what is most important to you. For example, my top 10 values are currently to:
- Love my wife and supporting her wherever possible.
- Honour my agreements by doing what I agreed I would.
- Be financially free.
- Spend as much time as is possible building and living my dream.
- Have more than enough time.
- Spend quality time with my family.
- Spend quality time with people.
- Leave a legacy and a world that is inheritable to our children.
- Live healthy and exercise regularly.
- Learn more.
From the list above you can see exactly what is important or valuable to me.
From my list of values, you can see that having enough time (Item 5) is important to me. But, spending quality time with people (Item 7) is also important to me. And, to complicate matters, to love my wife and supporting her wherever possible is also important to me! (Item 1)
So how does this help me make a tough decision?
Values do not just show you what is most important (valuable) to you, values also shows you the priority of importance – in other words, what is more important than what else.
My values above are numbered from 1 to 10, 1 being the most valuable with the highest priority, and 10 being the least important for me during this year. Thus, when I have to make a difficult decision that involves components affecting any of my values, I simply have to see which value it affects that is highest on my list.
For example, back to my current situation. Going home would affect my time (item 5) but would also compromise my values to love my wife and support her wherever possible (item 1). So, which value should I honour? Easy – item 1. Why, because I have made it the most important value for me – in fact, number 1!
When I finally called my wife I could hear from here tone that she was still uncomfortable with why I even had to think twice about coming home or staying in the bush to do what I love. We talked and after a while, I said. “You are the most important to me and therefore I will be coming home for this week.” She was over-joyed, I felt better and our relationship just became stronger – thanks to having values!
What you can do:
- Make your list of values. (Take action)
- Organise them from most important to least. (Prioritise)
- Be able to substantiate why one is more important than the other. (Assign reason)
- Revisit your list at least once a year. (Think and behave differently)
Common questions about values:
- How do I know what my values are? Think, “What is important to me, what matters most or even; what can I almost not live without.” You don’t have to answer it immediately. Ask the question and then go on with life as usual. You may catch yourself thinking about it and getting and answer. If nothing comes up, repeat this step. Keep thinking “What is really important to me” – the answer(s) will come.
- What should I do with my values? Write them down. Know why you write them down. Surely there is a reason for them being important? That reason is why that specific value is of high priority or value to you. Next, order them, with 1 being the most important and 10 being the lowest importance.
- How long are my values valid? For life! Forever. They are your guides to you on how you choose to live your life. It is good practice to review your specific list of values on a regular basis, at least once per year.
- Can I change my values? Absolutely, but not regularly or as you choose. They are best used if you write them down and commit to check in with them about once a year to see if what is valuable is still valuable for you.
- Can I re-order my values? You definitely should. At least once a year, or, when a change in your life occurs. Re-check which values are more valuable to you, and why. Re-order your values so that they are again from most important (1) to least important (10). For example. For two years I focussed on becoming financially free (value #3). This happened at the cost of my time (value #5) and my health (value #9) This year, I will re-prioritise my values to spend more attention on health and having time and thus make those values more valuable (move them closer to value #1)
In closing, please leave a reply if this information was helpful to you. Feel free to share your story, challenge or what you have learnt. Chances are that if you have a learnt something, other people can too and your comment may just be the inspiration they needed. Remember, choosing to reply is a choice. To your success!