The beginning of each year is often filled with setting goals for the year and making New Year’s resolutions. We begin each new year with the expectation and the hope of making things better than the year before. However, I’ve found that the hope we had at the start of a new year diminishes as time marches on. We say things like “I want to lose weight” but then March hits and we realize that we haven’t visited the gym in weeks. Or we say we want to get more organized and buy all of the bins and dividers and storage solutions needed, but things quickly fall back into disarray.
It’s clear that New Year’s resolutions don’t work, but I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. I would like to suggest that maybe we’ve been focusing on the wrong thing at the beginning of each year. What if, as we approach a new year, we focused on how we want to live differently instead of focusing on what we want to do differently? What if we nix the behavior modification plan and check our motivations instead? What if we took the time to examine what drives our behaviors?
In business you’re taught to outline the core values for your company. These core values will then translate to behaviors that your customers can count on. When forming a company or organization, this is a vital step to ensure that the original vision of the company is being achieved. Why is this something that’s stressed in our vocations but not in our personal lives? Maybe a better question is: how would your world change if you focused your effort and energy on the set of principles you wanted your life to be ruled by?
I recently came up with a list of 5 core values that I want my life to be guided by. I know that this list may change throughout the coming months and years, but for now these are the values that will guide my behaviors.
I arrived at this list by answering a few different questions:
What is important to me?
What is God speaking to me about now?
When someone has an encounter with me, how do I want them to feel when I leave?
What do I want to be known by?
I encourage you to take some time and answer these questions. You might use different criteria or ask different questions to find your core values, but what matters most is that you examine your heart and life. It’s easy to read something like this, think that it’s a good idea, and promise to do it “later”. Unfortunately “later” is pretty elusive and rarely comes. So, I encourage you to take a few moments right now to think about your personal core values.
This process took me less than 5 minutes because I went with my gut answers. Don’t overthink it, though that’s very easy to do. After I had my list of 5, I began to wonder if I should change my answers or add or detract. I began to feel as though I needed to add more words to qualify my thoughts. But after pausing and reflecting further, I didn’t find that necessary. For you, you may want to do 7 core values or add a list of behaviors that will come from each value, and that’s fine. Do what feels best to you. For me, I have 5 values that I want to be led by, I don’t need much more than that right now.
Here are the values I want to be driven by and the impression I want to leave with people:
Do you have your core values yet? I’m not just asking that rhetorically; I would absolutely love to read about them! List them in the comments below so that we know how to encourage you throughout the year. I believe that by living a Value Driven 2017 we can make it the best year yet!