As you go about your daily tasks and endeavour to meet the varying responsibilities you have, you should be applying your understanding of your own values to everything that you do. Living true to your own values gives you a sense of authenticity and consistency in your life, and can help guide you to reaching your goals. Refuse to settle for things that don’t meet your standards for your life! Be authentic, be mindful and thoughtful, and be consistent. Hold yourself accountable for each and every decision you make. This is how you create a satisfying, creative, productive life for yourself and everybody around you will reap the benefits.
Many people underuse their inner resources in solving common problems, in large part because we’re taught to rely on other people. We have acquired a sort of learned helplessness. The solution to most problems is automatically spending money, using outside sources of energy, consuming. Do you have outdated furniture? Buy new furniture! Do you need a quick dinner? Go buy some pizzas!
It’s our consumer culture at work, but it doesn’t have to be your personal culture.
To buck this culture of mindless consumption requires cultivating mindfulness. You need to think in terms of using your own inner resources, your self discipline, to solve problems. As with anything, living with this type of integrity requires commitment, diligence and practice, but it can become your automatic way of living.
Once you have become accustomed to this type of mindful problem solving, you may begin to realise that your values at times contradict one another. For example, if you want to dry your clothes quickly because efficiency is one of your core values, but you also value being frugal and economical, choosing an electric dryer leaves you with a contradiction of values. Do you choose efficiency, or economy? This type of situation is where we need to find a way to marry our values together.
Finding ways to marry our values together creates solutions that are highly satisfying and makes your life more efficient so that you can achieve more. In the scenario above, you could marry your values by making laundry part of your regular routine, so that you’re doing a little every day. This means you can hang out your washing to dry without it taking much time, thus satisfying your efficiency value. At the same time, you’re utilising the energy of the sun and wind to dry your clothes, which is very economical.
This concept of marrying your values can be taken to all kinds of decisions you will be making in your daily life. For example, I try to ensure that my children eat healthy lunches at school every day (I value good health), and I need lunch preparation to be feasibly simple and straightforward for myself (I value efficiency), while fitting within my budget (I value economy).
How do I meet all of my own standards here? Let’s look at some of the options:
- I could buy healthy lunchbox snacks at the grocery store, which would easily satisfy my efficiency value and my health value, but would no doubt be expensive and would not satisfy my economy value.
- I could make all of their lunchbox items at home, but this might take a long time and be unfeasible for me to manage first thing in the morning. It may meet my health and economy standards, but would not meet my efficiency value.
- I could buy cheap lunchbox food and throw it together in the morning easily, meeting my needs for economy and efficiency, but it would very likely not meet my health standards for the food I choose to give my children.
Obviously, none of these answers is completely satisfactory because none of them meet all of my standards.
I have applied my self disciplines of organisation, preparation, time management, awareness and diligence to solving this problem. The solution I came up with for the lunchbox issue in my own family has been to plan methodically, prepare ahead of time, and simplify as much as possible. I was able to create a calendar-style meal plan for all of their lunchbox foods that I placed in a prominent position. I plan baking or preparation time to fit in with other cooking. The food I prepare is simple but appealing and healthful. I follow the seasons as much as possible to ensure that my food costs remain low. This is how I have married my values of health, efficiency and economy. As long as I remember to practice self discipline, it is an excellent solution.
Let’s imagine you have a broken old chair at your dining room table. You would like a new set of chairs because your old ones are so worn and dated, and now that one is broken you are evaluating whether it may be time to splurge on new furniture.
It is true that one of your goals is to have a beautiful and restful home. However, you need to consider your personal values before solving this problem. Would buying new chairs meet your standards of economy? It may, if you’ve set money aside and planned well in advance for such a purchase. If not, you will need to think of other options. In the endeavour of creating our homes and making them restful, nurturing and beautiful, there will be many times we need something that most people just go out and buy. Remember, because we live in accordance with our own individual value systems, this may not be for us.
In the case above, thinking outside the box a little can help you come up with other ways to meet your values. In my case, I actually ended up leaving the worn chairs until we’re in a better position financially to fix them up. After all, they are still serving their purpose, and are safe and useful even if they’re not brand new. The broken chair required a simple repair and a replaced screw, and it is once again in useable condition.
In doing this simple task, I married my frugal values with efficiency, all while meeting the need for a safe and functional chair. At a date that better serves me, it will be a relatively simple matter to sand the chairs back and refinish them.
If you want to live according to your value system, you will need to learn and consistently practice this skill of marrying your values together. Approach this with all of the self discipline tools in your tool box. You will need to call on your preparedness, diligence, organisation, routine, patience, industry, creativity and so on time and time again. This is excellent because all of these mental resources are free. You’ll really come to enjoy the feeling of successfully working to your own high standards for your life by using those inner gifts and resources you have, and it won’t have to cost you a thing.