Focus on Your Values

Tuesday, December 10, 2019
Today in my audio series on Simple Habit, the narrator talked about finding your own personal values and basing your life on those values. After contemplating what my values might be, I found myself disappointed in the knowledge that I wasn't necessarily living out what I valued in life.
It requires insight, clarity, and honesty to truly understand what you value.  I think often I jump on the bandwagon of other people's values because they are doing so well at being themselves and make it all look so good.
But when I sat, crosslegged and tired on the sofa, I tried to really get into who I was, and what I wanted to focus on, without the outside noise. Where do I want to spend my energy when all the other people, all the other influences are stripped away?

I tried to come up with three core values. Here are mine:

1. Family. I am family-oriented. I mean, I deliberately chose to have six kids. I love the idea of homey, family life, and I dream of winning the lottery so I can spend time exploring the world with my WHOLE family.
How am I doing?
I asked myself if the way I was living my life truly expressed this number one value in my life. And with a bit of shame, I have to answer no. Fatigue and  phone addiction continue to be the daily battle I have after work which keep me from truly focusing on this area. I think of the slapped together, eat-where-you-want dinners; the frustration over bedtime, and the messy house. I want my family to have a neat and tidy home because I believe that leads to neat and tidy thoughts.

How can I fix this?
A cup of coffee after school. I really need this step right now. Put the phone down. Nothing is happening there which can't wait until the kids are in bed. I will STAY out of bed. No matter how much I want to go introvert alone, I will remain downstairs and actively involved. I will also get my husband on board with getting the kids to bed by 8:30. He works until seven and after that I am just a basketcase. I cannot do it alone. He cannot read my mind. I have to step up and say what I need.

2. Self-Expression. I think I am doing okay in this area. I have my little blog where I can write about things. Learning to filter everything even more than I was is sometimes challenging, but it really relies less on a filter and  more on focusing. Focusing on the right areas. To me, self-expression is being true to myself and putting myself out there and thinking my thoughts and sharing them with the world. I am a slow thinker, and so writing agrees with me more, and this blog is where it happens. I also have a journal where it REALLY happens, but even that is filtered. Someone, someday is going to read it.
How am I doing?
I am doing okay. I could really step up my production of writing if I hope to accomplish anything with mywords.
How can I fix this?
Again, I am pretty happy with it. I could dedicate a specific time to writing, if desired.

3. Knowledge. I struggled with this last one. I wanted to say something impressive like leadership or innovation. Or maybe something feminine and sweet like kindness. However I have found that knowledge (along with honesty) is very important to me and the way I live my life.
I have always loved learning in school. I could never understand those kids who said a certain subject was boring. Now there are some subjects that are more dry than others, particularly at the lower levels. For example, I wasn't very fond of teaching basic government class at the high school level. However, I did love the political science courses I took in college. Beyond regular American government I also took public administration and politics of the environment. Both were very interesting, at that level. I didn't particularly care for the difficult level of problem solving in my general physics classes, however the concepts themselves were interesting. My year of general Chemistry was fascinating. I liked biology and LOVED all aspects of geography, even economic geography. I loved languages and writing courses, though the professional writing major left me feeling a little out. They weren't quite my people. History! Plains Indian history and History of the Middle East. So cool! Analyzing an author's intent in literature classes didn't tickle my toes, but learning about the author and quietly contemplating the meaning of the literature on my own was fascinating. And all the juicy social science courses with their people and their statistics and the applications to the world. So very yummy. I love to learn.
How am I doing?
I am not learning at the same rate I was 10 or 20 years ago. With a fulltime job, I am so busy.
What can I do?
I need to pick a focus and work on that. Occasionally I will become infatuated with an author and read everything I can about that person. I need to keep that curiosity alive whether it is about a person or a concept or a moment in time. This can be easily done.

I don't know if this list will remain static or not. Time moves us, like a  plant in the water, whooshing and swaying with the current. Values change, hearts change. I think keeping open to the possibility of change, while focusing on truly living out the life we want to be remembered for living is key.

Do you know your values? Are you living a life which showcases your values? How can you get back to what you truly value?  Sometimes we all need to stop and think about how we are living our lives and whether we are living the life we think we want to live.

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