Is your life aligned with what you say you value? What do you value? What are your priorities? Are you allocating your resources in a way that reflects what you say you value? In other words, if a reporter looked at how you spent your time and energy, what would he or she conclude about what you value?
As a person who is committed to living in alignment with my values, I ask these questions of myself. Here’s what I came up with for my values:
This is so foundational to everything else. And yet it is what I take most for granted and think I can get away with short changing. Without my health I am no good to anyone – neither to others or to myself. Au contraire, I actually am a drain. This is not to say that getting sick is something to be ashamed of. It can help us empathize with others and show compassion when they get sick. Getting sick can also give others an opportunity to practice their empathy and compassion as well. But these “benefits” are really silver linings of situations over which we and others have no control. Since my health is essential to my life and a pre-requisite for my other values, I need to make sleep, nutrition, and movement high priorities.
2. Earning a living by making a valuable contribution.
I value my economic independence and meeting my financial obligations; and it is important that I make a valuable contribution that is at least commensurate with compensation I receive.
2. Dogs (I really don’t value dogs more than people –well, most people anyway. But I’m the guardian of Stella and Clarice and take this responsibility seriously. Besides, they’re good for my health!)
3. Other family
4. Friends and colleagues
I needed to make some adjustments in this area, since I wasn’t giving enough time to my husband or to my parents. So I penciled in quality time for my husband into my calendar. Then I put in a recurring weekly phone call to my parents, a quarterly lunch with my sister, and a quarterly attempt to connect with my brother. I decided to make sure I saw my parents in person at least every two months. I then made the following lists for my friends that I don’t see at work: Monthly, Bi-Monthly, Quarterly, Semi-annually, and Annually. A friend on my Monthly list isn’t necessarily more important to me than one on my Quarterly or other list. Geography and their availability also play roles. The question is how often is required to feed a healthy connection with each one. There are a variety of factors that determine this.
Categorizing friends this way may seem a bit odd. However, it’s my way of ensuring that no one with whom I want to say connected falls through the cracks. So far, so good.
4. Self-Actualization (this is almost on par with Connection, which in fact helps me actualize).
Once survival needs are met, this is quintessential to being human. To quote Abraham Maslow: “What one can be, one must be.”
I encourage everyone to have a look at their own lives and see if they are allocating their resources in alignment with their values.