Reduce Stress with Values Based Decision Making

Decision 1

What are your values? Values are NOT ethics or morals. Values are what is important to us, what we ‘value’, and what gives us PURPOSE. Most people have approximately 5-7 core values that identify who they are at their core. Each person’s values are unique to that person. Values reflect who we are on a daily basis, in everything we do at home and at work. When we align with our values on a daily basis, we have more energy and feel more fulfilled because we are leading from what’s important to us. When we don’t align with our values, we feel less authentic and become demotivated about our daily lives. So who are you at your core?
Think about what is important to you and write it down. It might be helpful to recall a great experience, or day, or time in life when you were on top of the world. What were you doing? How did you feel? Take detailed notes of this time and look for key words that describe what is important to you. Remember: Don’t pick values you think you should have. There are no right or wrong answers. You are trying to discover the values you know to be yours.
Why is this important? I’m glad you asked. Making decisions is simplified when you are living out your core values. When you know what is important to you, you know longer have to wrestle with the choice in front of you. You already know what to do; you simply decide in alignment with your core values. If you don’t choose according to your values, you will be miserable. We have all done this and it hurts.
I think most of the stress in our life would be eliminated if we would simply choose in alignment with our values. The problem is that we don’t consciously think about what our values are on a daily basis.
So if you want to reduce stress in your life, live your best life, and be your best self then do this exercise.
1. Think about what is important to you, what you value, who you are at your core and WRITE IT DOWN. Choose words or phrases that help you identify your values so you can easily remember them.
2. Review your values often. Tattoo them in your mind. You may need to refer to your list for a while until it really sinks in. Post them in places you can see them often. Talk about them with those close to you.
3. When faced with a decision, choose in alignment with your values and experience the freedom and confidence of knowing you have chosen well!

If you want more help to figure out your values, or how to tie your values to your purpose, or to answer questions like, “What on earth am I here for?” I strongly recommend Rick Warren’s book “The Purpose Driven Life”.


Your Top Priority Revealed in 3 Questions


What is your top priority? I understand that your top priority today is likely different than it will be next year or last year and that’s ok. There are ‘seasons’ in life that require our focus to change. For example, you may have gone back to school in order to change careers and that is your top priority for a ‘season’ of time. When you graduate, school will no longer be your top priority.

The point is that we all have a top priority today and my hope is that we take the time to identify today’s top priority and evaluate whether or not it is what we want it to be. To evaluate today’s top priority ask yourself a few more questions.

1. Where does your money go? A revealing way to assess where your priority lies is to look at your expenditures. Where you spend your money (or more specifically, your ‘extra’ money after the standard bills & such) indicates where your priority lies. You are your own judge as to whether or not the way you spend money aligns with your priority.

2. How do you spend your time? Think about how you spent your ‘free’ time this past week or month. Decide for yourself if where you spent your time aligns with your top priority. For me, I’ve spent virtually all my free time the past week or two working on our new house – demo, painting, cleaning, moving our stuff, etc. so it can be made ready for my family to move in. It has been my top priority, but hopefully VERY soon it will be done and my priority will change.

3. What do you think about? This might be the most revealing of all. In your quiet thoughts you reveal your true focus. If what you constantly think about differs from what you want your top priority to be, then you know you have some work to do to change that.

While changing your top priority (assuming it is not what you want it to be) is not easy, it is simple. Your priority ultimately comes down to your CHOICE. You choose what your top priority is whether you are conscious of it or not. That may sound a bit narrow minded, and I’m sure there are instances where circumstances are out of your control or ‘seasons’ where your top priority is not what you want, but for the most part you can choose where you spend your extra money, how you spend your free time, and what you think about. Hopefully, your top priority is aligned with your values, is related to a big goal you set for yourself, and includes the important people in your life.