Step 2: Get Rid of Your Baggage Once and For All
Step 3: The Lazy Man’s Way to the Best Year Yet
Step 4: Get Out of Jail NOW!
No matter where you are going, you need to know where you are and where you are going. Imagine trying to find your way without a map, without directions. Even worse, imagine not knowing which way is north, south, east, or west!
Ships and jets, and their captains, can easily drift off course without taking regular readings of where they are relative to their destination.
Just as ship captains and pilots need to know their instruments for setting and maintaining their course, so you and I need to have our own moral compasses to keep us on course during every year of our lives. We can do this by identifying and living by our personal values.
Benefits of Personal Values
Cheaper By the Dozen: A Case Study in Values
During some of my down time this weekend, I got to view the movie, Cheaper By the Dozen, for the first time. The father is a football coach, and the mother is a stay at home mom. Both the father and the mother had big dreams when they were younger. The father had wanted to become a big 10 football team head coach, and the mother had dreams of being a sport reporter and writing her own book. However, they both value family, and decide to have a big family. They did not plan on it, but they end up with twelve children!
You can see that the family is happy. The house is tattered, the furniture is worn, the kids have hand me downs. And, over the years, the father has traded career advancement for time with his family. The mother started out as a sports reporter, but after the third child came, she decided to stay home.
One day, the father is approached for the opportunity to live his dream! He’s offered a head coach at a Top Ten college. Against the kids’ wishes, he and his wife decide to go for it. They move into a gorgeous house, much bigger, with a housing allowance. The kids are able to afford better clothes, and the oldest son gets his own car.
In the midst of the move, the mother, who is writing a book, finds that her book has been accepted by a publisher! She is whisked away on a book tour.
In the midst of all the success, the father starts working more and more, since his job is very demanding. With the mother gone, the glue that holds the family is gone, and the family starts sliding into chaos. The children are having a hard time adjusting to a new school, they miss their mother, and they miss their quality time with their father. By the end of the movie, fortunately, the mother and father realize how far they have sailed from their original value of family first. The father resigns from his position, the mother stops her book tour, and they move back to their original town.
By consistently clarifying and applying our values we can:
a) Avoid a lot of pain
b) Preserve relationships
c) More effectively manage our time
c) Have greater integrity and credibility as leaders and people
e) Make more ethical decisions
How To Clarify Your Values
I depend on the Bible for my source of wisdom and values for daily living. By reading from the Scriptures daily, I am better able to have a source from which to develop my values.
I read an interesting article regarding stages of moral development that developmental psychologist Kohlberg observed in his study of ethical decision making.
Small children, at the precoventional stage of moral development, make decisions based on immediate consequences of their decisison. They only choose an ethical alternative if it’s in their immediate personal interests.
At the conventional level of moral development, people make decisions based on what they know to be the rights and wrongs taught to them by society and their family. They will sometimes make ethical decisions foregoing their self-interests.
The ideal is for people to progress from the preconventional stage, through the conventional stage, and on to the postconventional stage. At this stage, they make decisions on the basis of human rights, fairness, and justice. They are willing to ignore their self-interests, and may even violate society’s rules and norms in order to act in harmony with their personal principles. Examples of individuals like this would be Jesus Christ, Nelson Mandela, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Individuals like this can be counted on to make ethical decisions in line with justice and virtue.
Personal Values Clarification Exercise:
In preparing for this article, I came across this helpful online exercise from Career-Test.Biz. I spent some time reflecting and prioritizing, and I came up the following top 5 values for myself:
It’s helpful to reflect on this list of values. In fact, I found myself juggling and re-juggling the list until my top 5 felt just about right.
It is very helpful to have these values uppermost in your mind as you plan your goals for the upcoming year. Take time each day to notice what you are pursuing during the day. Are your time commitments in line with your values? If not, why not? Work on bringing your time commitments and your values closer together daily, and you will notice an uptick in your life satisfaction levels.
I hope you will take the time to clarify your own personal values as you get ready for 2012.
Please share your experience and thoughts with me in the comments.
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