• Values

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Working with values is the 4th and final exercise of our daily direction practice. This practice will help you chart your course in life through the many dreams, visions and goals you may have.

This 4th practice is like a mixture of VALUES and VISION. Vision is where you want to go and values is how you want it to feel when you get there. Let’s walk you through this a bit more.

Now, where some people might want to immediately start writing about beach houses and boats, we think it’s better to focus not on the destination of your value, but on the direction of it. This can help us stay out of some painful ego traps.

For instance, you may want to be a writer. This could be a goal of yours, a destination you hope to arrive at. Well, to turn it into a value, focus on the ongoing behavior — writing. So instead of saying “I want to be a writer,” you can say, “I want to be writing daily.” And there may be even more value in focusing in on how you want the ongoing behavior to feel. E.g., “I want to enjoy writing daily.”

You can think of it like this: we took that vision and transformed it into a value, something we can pursue right now and everyday on an ongoing basis. It’s not something we need to do a lot of work to get, it’s something we can do RIGHT NOW.

Let me restate that because this is important:

  • We started with a vision or desire — ”I want to be a writer.” This is where we need to start. You likely have these visions/desires/dreams within you already, and most of us will find more clarity about those dreams as we continue journaling regularly.
  • We distilled the outcome we seek into the ongoing behaviors that lead to that outcome — ”I want to write daily.” This is critical because it pulls in wisdom about using habit instead of goals to reach your destination. You must find the regular practice, the ongoing behavior, that leads to that destination you seek.
  • We included our desired emotional state in that ongoing behavior — ”I want to enjoy writing daily.” Our ego can get carried away and take us to places that diminish our capacity to reach our desire/dream/destination, so we must include an emotional element otherwise we’ll be always working and never feeling the things we want our goals to make us feel.

And imagine the difference between these two: writing “I want to be a writer” every day in your values practice, or writing “I want to enjoy writing.” I don’t know about you, but to us that second one is much more grounding, centered and energetic; there’s an invitation in it we actually want to accept. That’s what we’re looking for in our value statements.

So, remember this as you develop the values you’ll work on:

  • Focus on the direction, not the destination, to find your value.
  • Focus on the ongoing behavior that keeps you heading in that direction.
  • Focus on what you want that ongoing behavior to feel like.

Exercise 1: Convert visions to values

The first thing we can do to develop the values we want to be working with is to get clarity on the visions that are currently pulling on us.

Step 1: The first step here is to write big list of all the visions you’ve got. All those hopes and dreams, all those crazy ideas, all those things rattling around in your head, write them aaaaaaaall down in a big list.

It’s important you spend some time getting all these out of your head and onto a piece of paper (no matter how long it takes!) because it cleans and uncluttered the mind for the next step.

Step 2: Circle the top 3-8 things you’ve written down and write down what’s unique and what’s common about each. Are each of the ones you circled really just different versions of the same core desire, or are they unique and separate?

Step 3: Turn each of those visions into a value by re-writing it to focus on the ongoing behavior and how you want it to feel. Just like our example above: “I want to be a writer” turns into “I want to enjoy writing daily.”

This is a simple exercise you can do right now to discover all the things you’ve got in you, prioritize that list down to the most important to yourself, personally, and then re-write those visions into true value statements we can work with right now and every day.

Exercise 2: Role Goals

Another exercise we could do to find values we want to work with is to define values we have for the roles we play in life.

Step 1: Write down a list of all the roles you play in life. It can be good to write a big list, letting it all come out. Then once you’ve got it all out, go back and circle the 3-8 most important roles to you.

For example, I would write: husband, father, business partner, publisher, creative, friend, family member, etc. All of us have roles in our relationships, our communities, our work, etc. Each of these roles are like pieces of the cake that is you. And you may find some pieces of the cake, some roles you have to play, that you actually don’t want there anymore. You also may find some roles that you forget about too often and that you want to do a better job with.

Step 2: Then, on a separate piece of paper, write each role along with your goals for each of those roles. How do you want to feel as you fulfill that role? What do you want to be true about that relationship or responsibility?

For example, I might write: presence and curiosity as a husband, presence and curiosity as a father, friendship and vision as a business partner, authenticity and connection as a publisher, delight and energy as a creative, etc. If you can, find just 1 word to define your value for each role because that will make it easier to remember. But, if you need more words than that to describe how you want to show up in these roles, please include what you feel is necessary.

That list might be the values you want to work with in our daily direction practice. How does it feel to you?

A note on time: One of the best things about the daily direction practice is you get to work with your values OVER TIME. I don’t know if any of us can identify our values perfectly right without paying attention over time. I’ve noticed that my understanding of my values has deepened over time, which means some of my values today look different than what they were a year ago.

Exercise 3: Values Words

Finally, it may feel best to you to simply work with words that represent values you hold outside of any role or responsibility.

Step 1: Write a big list of all the words and values you feel good about. Again, we like focusing this on the question “how do you want to feel?”

For example, I might write: delight, satisfaction, presence, pleasure, kindness, joy, peace. Here’s another place where we recommend you write as many as come to mind.

Step 2: Go through the list and circle the 3-10 you resonate with the most. These just may be the value words you can work with in the daily direction practice for the next few weeks.

A note about making changes: You may want to change your value words over time. This is normal! Please allow yourself to make edits and changes over time because this is one of the most powerful aspects of a simple daily journaling practice like this.