I was very fortunate this past fall to work with a talented life coach.
The most valuable thing I’ve taken away from that experience is a list of my personal values. I keep copies of this list at work and at home, and try to honor these values in everything I do. I’ve learned that if I’m upset about something, it’s most likely because I feel that one of my values has been compromised. Knowing this and identifying it early on helps me to correct my course and let go of whatever is bringing me down.
These are my values:
Having spent part of my childhood without predictable meals and sometimes without heat, electricity, or even a place to call home, it’s no surprise that as an adult, I crave stability and order. Unfortunately, this has translated into me being a control freak. Knowing this helps me keep it in check.
This is probably the most important of all of my values. The two areas most important to me are financial freedom, and remaining childfree. We’ll be completely debt free (including the house) at age 35 and I can’t imagine anything more freeing than not having to worry about the economy, job stability or any of the related stuff that keeps me from feeling free to follow my bliss.
I’m a perfectionist in everything I do. If I haven’t done my best, even if it’s “good enough,” I feel empty. I need to finish things. There's not much that bugs me more than not finishing what I’ve started. When I’m feeling stressed out, it’s generally because I have too many unfinished things in my life. Perfectionism coupled with control freak tendencies is horrible burden, but I’m making it work :)
I don’t accept things at face value because “that just the way it is”. I believe that what I buy or don’t buy and where I shop or don’t shop makes a difference. I believe in writing to companies, governments, etc. and asking them to change things I’d like to see changed. I believe that change begins with one person who's willing to go about it in a constructive way. I do not believe in complaining and accepting the status quo.
I checked out of consumerism a few years ago and I’m better for it. I enjoy gardening, cooking and baking from scratch, sewing, and keeping a home much more than I ever enjoyed shopping, amassing stuff, and wasting hours in front of the TV. Collecting knowledge instead of stuff seems a bit radical at times, but it’s given me a richer life.
Because so much of my life is centered around my home, it’s important to me that it be clean, orderly, pretty, and well run. Yes, this is kind of a throwback to the 50’s, but I think of myself more as a post-feminist domestic diva than a subservient housewife (I also have a career). I cook dinner from scratch almost every night, bake fresh bread, muffins, cookies, and cakes, and prepare homemade lunches to-go. I could pay someone clean my house, but why? I find satisfaction in making my home a comfortable place.
A boss once told me that I’m “accountable to a fault”. If I tell you I’m going to do something, I’ll do it come hell or high water. If I screw up, I own it. Yep, that was I who dumped a chunk of our life savings into the S&P 500 right before it tanked. It was a bad decision. I’m honest. Maybe too honest. Don’t ask me questions you don’t really want answered.
I don’t strive for nonconformity, but I don’t value conformity. Being largely cut off from TV and marketing is an interesting thing. I don’t have anything to emulate. I don’t really know what I should want or how I should dress. As a result, I’m just me and that’s why knowing my values is so important, it gives me a roadmap to my best life.
Even if you don’t have a life coach, I think it’s important to identify and honor the values that are most important to you. What do you value?