Monday, April 12, 2010

Keeping your life in balance with your values

Stack of stones

Each of us knows what is important to us. Whether it be our relationship with family and friends, getting out of debt, saving for the future, starting our own business or giving back to the community, it is something we each value and work at achieving. For me, it is saving for my goals and living a greener life. These are large goals and encompass many small steps.

I find myself focusing on the little things I can do every day to better align my lifestyle to my personal values. That means I create a spending plan each month, automate my savings, keep track of every purchase, consider whether I could either make it or fix it myself, and assess my net worth every month. When how I live my life is in harmony with my personal values, I am more positive and I want to strive to do better. When I am out of alignment, I am unhappy, short with others and resort to poor behaviors: spending more money on conveniences, letting the household maintenance fall by the wayside and spending too much time in escapist activities that only delay the inevitable. I have to deal with my problems.

Unfortunately, when there is dissonance, a gap between your values and how you live your life, it disrupts everything. For example, I am usually frugal and prudent with my money, but find myself spending more money eating out because it is just easier to go to lunch with a friend than eat what I have on hand. It seems easier to pick up some junk food and eat that than take the time to do the dishes that have been piling up and actually make a dinner. My patience disappears and everything my cat does irritates me and my colleagues seem to offend me a lot easier than normal. I lose my emotional and fiscal equilibrium where I make good decisions rather than abdicating for convenience and emotional displays more reminiscent of a cranky child than an adult.

How to restore balance? I find writing down my thoughts, asking myself what is going to be useful. Whatever is bothering eventually makes itself obvious and then I can consider rectifying the situation. For my issue, I realized I not only needed to catchup on my dishes, but also plan meals better. I have neglected to have a list of meals I can prepare and rely on the moment. That encourages me to make poorer choices. Therefore, if I know what I was planning on making this month, I am less likely to get off the plan. And clean dishes make sure I have all my cooking items on hand for whatever I choose to make. With a strategy, I am able to overcome the dissonance and keep closer alignment to my desired lifestyle.

Will you consider how to improve your life and alignment to your values?

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