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Architecting Life

Define Your Values (and Make Better Decisions)

Decision-making is tough, you guys. I get all clammed up deciding which sandwich to get at Subway, let alone the big, life-changing decisions like whether to quit your job, go back to Uni, move overseas, and/or grow a mustache (Oh, to be that manly…).

You’re probably thinking, “Uh, what does decision-making have to do with defining your core values? I’ve been misled and I’m never going to get that 30 seconds of reading time back”.

But you’d be as wrong as Miley Cyrus’ Wrecking Ball film clip (and you’re a really slow reader).

Because having well-defined values (preferably hand-written in a pleather-bound Moleskine)* will imbue your life with purpose and meaning. Oh and it’ll make decision-making (even the tough ones) a cinch. Let me explain:

The Importance of Values

All the cool guys (and girls) of the past had rock-solid values. It gave them a gleam in their eye – the gleam of purpose. It helped them to bring meaning to every interaction. And it helped them rise to greatness. Abraham Lincoln, was big into values. And that worked out pretty well for him.

Lincoln could use his internal values compass to make sure he was heading in the right direction and making the right choices. Whenever it was time to make a tough call, instead of silently screaming, “GOOD GOD, WHY ME? WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?!”, he was able to open his Moleskine, enjoy the softness of high quality vinyl on his fingertips, and flip to the ‘values’ section.** From there it was easy to decide if his decision reflected his predefined values:

“This whole slavery thing, economic boon or moral turpitude? Hmmm, well it says here in my Moleskine that I value equality…”

Boom. Decision made.

If you’re not yet as steadfast as Lincoln and other famous value-driven peeps. If waking in the middle of the night with an overwhelming sense of impending doom and a faint memory of a dream where you’re lost in a hedge maze with no idea which way to turn or how to reach the end sounds like a typical night’s sleep for you? Take a deep breath, try not to let that invisible weight crush you and wipe that cold sweat from your brow, my friend. Because:

a. We have the same dreams, snap!

and,

b. Defining your values and then using them to guide your life is going to help you get out of that fucking maze.

Here’s how you do it:

Define Your Values

Take a little you time.

Relax.

And try to concentrate on what really matters to you.

Think of the things you’ve done in the past that have made you feel good. And think of the things that have made you feel shitty. See if there are any connections you can draw between those feelings and if there is any shared core value behind them. If you’re having trouble trying to define your values, here’s a ridiculously long list of things you might want to consider (I got them from here):

Accountability
Accuracy
Achievement
Adventurousness
Altruism
Ambition
Assertiveness
Balance
Being the best
Belonging
Boldness
Calmness
Carefulness
Challenge
Cheerfulness
Clear-mindedness
Commitment
Community
Compassion
Competitiveness
Consistency
Contentment
Continuous Improvement
Contribution
Control
Cooperation
Correctness
Courtesy
Creativity
Curiosity
Decisiveness
Democraticness
Dependability
Determination
Devoutness
Diligence
Discipline
Discretion
Diversity
Dynamism
Economy
Effectiveness
Efficiency
Elegance
Empathy
Enjoyment
Enthusiasm
Equality
Excellence
Excitement
Expertise
Exploration
Expressiveness
Fairness
Faith
Family-orientedness
Fidelity
Fitness
Fluency
Focus
Freedom
Fun
Generosity
Goodness
Grace
Growth
Happiness
Hard Work
Health
Helping Society
Holiness
Honesty
Honor
Humility
Independence
Ingenuity
Inner Harmony
Inquisitiveness
Insightfulness
Intelligence
Intellectual Status
Intuition
Joy
Justice
Leadership
Legacy
Love
Loyalty
Making a difference
Mastery
Merit
Obedience
Openness
Order
Originality
Patriotism
Perfection
Piety
Positivity
Practicality
Preparedness
Professionalism
Prudence
Quality-orientation
Reliability
Resourcefulness
Restraint
Results-oriented
Rigor
Security
Self-actualization
Self-control
Selflessness
Self-reliance
Sensitivity
Serenity
Service
Shrewdness
Simplicity
Soundness
Speed
Spontaneity
Stability
Strategic
Strength
Structure
Success
Support
Teamwork
Temperance
Thankfulness
Thoroughness
Thoughtfulness
Timeliness
Tolerance
Traditionalism
Trustworthiness
Truth-seeking
Understanding
Uniqueness
Unity
Usefulness
Vision
Vitality

Choose five values and make it your life’s mission to live by those sexy little standards.

Write them in your Moleskine so they’ll be in your pocket all of the places, all of the time (because once you get one, you’ll be inseparable). Meditate on them on your mid-morning run (that’s what you’re supposed to do, right?). Hell, get them tattooed to that soft fleshy bit in the fold of your elbow (where it will really smart).

Whatever it takes for you to remember them and to use them.

So next time you’re in the line at Subway, you won’t be thinking:

I can’t get the Chicken Classic again – it’s so boring. But Steak and Cheese is such a risk, it could be tough… Maybe I could spice up ol’ faithful Chicken Classic with Chipotle? Ha, who am I kidding, Chipotle. I can’t embrace the burn.

Maybe I will have Steak and Cheese. With onion.

Onion? Am I insane? I have to take the train later today. My fellow train passengers are not going to take kindly to my onion breath stinking up the carriage. I’ll get looks. I can’t afford to get looks. Not today.

Nope, I’m a Chicken Classic guy through and through. Nothing will ever change that…

NO!

You can just say, “my pre-defined core value Adventure indicates I should take a risk with this decision. Live on the wild side. I’ll take the Subway Seafood SensationTM, please. To hell with the consequences!” But, like, don’t actually say that. The Subway Sandwich Artists will think you’re weird…

And then you can get on with the business of mauling that Footlong like it’s Miley Cyrus’ sledgehammer.

You’re welcome.

*This is totally an affiliate link. But I’m not corrupted or biased. I genuinely LOVE my Moleskine. I just want you to experience that love too.
**There’s no evidence that Abraham Lincoln owned a Moleskine. In fact, he almost certainly didn’t. Not the point, he still had values.

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