When it is time to make necessary life decisions it is important to make value based ones. Whether it is changing careers, changing your diet or implementing a new exercise routine, value based decisions will ensure that you are doing what is best for your overall happiness and satisfaction.
If you are struggling to make healthy new habits stick, getting clear on your values is the first step. Prioritizing those values is the next step and then living in alignment with those values is the final step.
So, let’s start at the beginning shall we? Grab a pen and your journal, cuz we’re about to get as granular as a bag of sugar up in here!
Answer these questions honestly, to find out what your true values are.
What is truly important to you?
What do you believe in or feel strongly about?
What inspires you?
What makes you happy?
What makes you fulfilled?
When have you felt the proudest? Why?
What makes you sad or angry?
When do you most feel like yourself?
When do you not feel like yourself?
Do you often have feelings of regret or longing? In what context?
Do other people know what you stand for?
Do you “stick to your guns” or follow the pack?
Now let’s take it a step further and get really specific on how you are currently making life decisions.
How do you spend your time?
How much time do you spend each day on work, self-care, your social life and with your family?
Are you happy with those percentages? Why or why not?
What do you spend your money on?
How much of it is on experiences and how much of it is on material things?
Which ones make you feel more fulfilled?
What do you eat?
When you make food choices, what is most important to you. The source? The cost? The flavor? Why?
How do you feel physically and mentally after you eat? Do you see any patterns with the types of food you are eating and how you feel afterward?
How much time do you spend on sourcing, cooking and enjoying your food?
Are you happy at work?
Why or why not?
What about it could be better?
How do you feel when you explain to others what you do for a living?
How is the quality of your relationships?
How much time do you invest in them?
Do you have many friends or just a few and why?
How much thought or care do you put into your appearance?
Why? What is the outcome?
How do you want others to perceive you? (Think about first impressions.)
And what about balance?
Often times when you are thriving in one part of your life you are not doing so well in another. This may be because you are avoiding certain areas of your life or believing a story that you do not have time for them. Balance is about self-diversification. Investing time in all of the areas of life that you value. Give yourself a reality check. How much time are you actually really spending in all of the areas of your life that you care about.
How to tell if you are being true to your values.
Do your values make you feel internally rewarded or is your reward coming from an external validation? Determine your values based on what makes you happy, proud and fulfilled.
Prioritize your values.
The phrase “I don’t have time” is often associated with things that are not at the top of our list of priorities. Everyone has the same amount of hours in a day. The way you spend those hours is a personal choice.
When setting priorities ask yourself what is really true.
Are you working so many hours that you don’t have enough time for self-care? What would happen if you worked one less hour each day? Would you get fired from your job?
Is picking up take out instead of spending 10 minutes preparing your lunch at home before leaving for work actually saving you time?
Sometimes a simple act of re-organizing your schedule is enough to make time in your life for the things that you want to prioritize. If they truly are indeed a priority.
Living in alignment with your values.
When you are aligned with your values you enable yourself to live a happier more satisfied life. You are able to make clearer life decisions such as what job you should take, how to spend your time and who to spend your time with.
Although your own personal values may change over time, checking in on them and continuously prioritizing them can enable you to live a more balanced life and make healthy habits stick.
Values guide us to make clear life decisions with confidence and make time for the things that are important to us.
So what are yours?
Sarah Burchard is the author of The Healthy Locavore, a natural foods chef and experience host whose writing focuses on cooking, holistic health, supporting community and eating locally grown and made foods.