It’s rare in life for there to be a true common denominator.
One single factor which produces an extremely predictable outcome every single time.
So upon reflection, when you see one, it’s probably a good idea to pay attention to it…
Just to set the record straight, when I say ‘messed up’, I’m not talking about life altering mistakes (in my case)… I mean the times where I took an opportunity or took action where the end result was a) failure, b) things didn’t feel right or c) both.
For example, that time I took a full time job in Australia when I knew I wanted to live and work in Canada. That was clearly a huge mistake.
What’s the common theme? In every case I was acting incongruently with one or more of my values.
A value is something you want to gain, or keep.
Being congruent with your values means what you say and how you act line up with with those things you want to have or keep.
When I took that job back home in Perth I knew that it wasn’t the best opportunity for me personally: my boss was weird, there were plenty of aspects of the practice that I wasn’t happy with, and I was going to be on my own a lot of the time. This didn’t really match anything I wanted or valued in terms of my vision for my career, but I took it anyway because it was a good opportunity for me in the short term.
It goes deeper than that though….
I consider one of my dearest values to be integrity. And it was wildly incongruent for me to take that position when I knew that I had one eye abroad, looking for opportunities in Canada.
At the time, I rationalized it as being practical. And it was, I needed to make money. But on the other hand, the short term financial gains I earned didn’t balance the scale against the guilt and personal betrayal I felt (still feel).
This is a pretty personal example, and fairly obvious where I messed up… But if you look back at your own life, with honesty, and recall all the times you made a decision that was not in accordance with your values, what trends do you notice?
Most likely it was a disaster, fraught with sadness, upset, anger, or maybe even worse.
Over time, actions that don’t match your values chip away at your self-esteem. Every time you choose an opportunity over a value, it will lead to destruction in some way, shape or form.
What should you do to avoid repeating those situations?
First things first, you need to identify your values. There are a few different ways of doing this, so here’s a couple of exercises to get you heading in the right direction.
1. Ask yourself the following three questions:
Where do you spend your money?
Where do you spend your time?
How do you spend your energy?
Go beyond the obvious here. For example, I know I spend a lot of my money on groceries, but that’s not because I really value Sobey’s. It’s because I value my health, so I buy real food as opposed to constantly eating out.
I spend a lot of time training because I value my health. I spend a lot of energy lifting, sparring and drilling because I value getting better and stronger at MMA.
2. Go to Steve Pavlina’s website and take a look at his list of 400+ values and pick out the ones that will move you towards what you want most in life.
Identify your current values as well as values you want to add to your life.
3. Employ a doorman. No, not a literal doorman. A metaphorical one.
The ‘Doorman Principal’ is a way of safeguarding your life by only allowing people and opportunities that match your values.
So imagine a very large, mean ‘Doorman’ with a velvet rope and a clipboard. On the clipboard, he has a list of your values. In order for anyone to get past the velvet rope and into your life, they must match up with at least one of your values. If they don’t match (they’re not on the list), they don’t get in.
4. Click HERE to download the Think By Design Manual for a comprehensive approach to identifying your values, building a conscious philosophy and creating a blueprint for your extraordinary life.