What if you didn’t need anymore time this year? What if balancing family, work, and yourself was less a matter of finding the time or scheduling and more a matter of figuring out what you value most?
Let’s play with this idea.
Are you bummed that you aren’t participating in a cheese-rolling competition in the UK this year? Probably not. Why? It’s not important to you. On top of that, it’s probably not important to your friends either, so you don’t feel like you “should” be doing it.
In a different scenario, imagine that you have a child or close family member who is seriously ill and hospitalized for an extended period of time. Might it be very clear to you what is most important in your life? You probably wouldn’t feel guilty for neglecting the soap scum in you showers, pausing your search for a new work project, or putting homemade meals on the backburner (so to speak). Why not? Because your priorities are crystal clear, there is no self doubt, no apologies, and no guilt. Your actions are aligned with your values.
When our values are not so clear, however, the waters are muddy. When there is no crisis (job loss, illness, injury) or big event (wedding, childbirth, move) dramatically structuring our priorities, all of the pieces of our lives swirl around in our heads. We question how we manage our time and energy (which drains time & energy) and feel like we never have enough of either.
For now (of course, I’ll have more on this later), I propose two pieces, or action steps, to address this problem.
The first: Identify your values. Here are a few ways to ask the same question:
- What do you value?
- What gives you meaning?
- What matters most to you in your life right now?
- What do you want your life to be about?
Need help figuring this out?
Get someone to listen to you or record yourself telling two stories. One story is about something that happened recently that was wonderful. Pick out what (hint: what you value) made it so great. Then tell an opposite story and figure out what was missing (hint: values).
The second: Be aware of the thoughts about what you “should” and “shouldn’t” be doing. You may tell yourself you “should” be exercising more. But if exercising is say, fourth on you list of priorities, then it needs to be addressed accordingly.
Your values and ways of aligning with them are uniquely your own and not necessarily the same as your mother or neighbor. You get to the best version of YOU. Just because your mother makes homemade spaghetti sauce doesn’t mean it “should” be important to you. You and your friends may all value family. Perhaps one of you serves this value by helping with homework, another by providing income, and another by coaching soccer. It doesn’t mean that all of you “should” be doing what everyone else is doing.
I have a feeling that a secret to happiness is using your strengths to put your values in action. More on this in this New Year.
What’s Coming in 2010
Look for these topics to be covered in this year’s newsletters, blogs, and classes:
- Getting clear on your priorities and what you want your life to look like
- Cleaning up time, space, & thoughts to make room for what’s important
- Plans for life balance
- Improving your relationships
- Energy (deciding how to use it, sustaining it)
- Identifying & using your strengths
- Designing living spaces