Value Based Decision Making

Living your truth and working out what’s important

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Are you struggling with making a major life decision? Or are you unsure what direction to take in the future? Maybe you have a less dramatic sounding decision to make that is, the outcome of which will be, nonetheless, very important to you – and maybe others too. If making a decision is something you’re grappling with right now, I hope, through this feature, to be able to assist, by encouraging you to take a moment to think about your values.

What are our values?

What do you believe are your non-negotiable principles by which you wish to live?

What do you care about most?

Our individual values are the blueprint from which everything else flows. They stand for what we want to be remembered for. They feel right and they feel true. I have been trying to steer away from this next adjective, as it’s a rather overused buzz word of the moment, but, yes, values are also ‘authentic’.

If we make decisions and plans that honour our core values, then we should feel happier with our life’s path.

This is not a new idea by any means, but I wanted to share it with you today, because recently, pinpointing my own values has helped me clarify where I am going and how I would like things to pan out.

Goals -v- Values

Since turning 40 a few years ago I have spent a lot of time in reflection and have really laid bare the bones of who I am and where I have come from. I’ve engineered a major life overhaul, changing my career and retraining as a yoga teacher, but that is a story for another time.

I have always been goal motivated, which has worked to an extent, but the problem with goals is that they may be achievable but they are not achievable right now;  you are always chasing something out of reach.

And if you do reach your target then what’s next? We set another goal and list of things to achieve. Sometimes our goals are forgotten or morph into something different – they are not steadfast absolutes. Goals can change, they may never be reached and, often, they may be things that we don’t really want or need. Our goals may actually oppose our values without us even realising it.

Many of our goals are derived from an engrained belief that success is measured by money, status, appearance and power. Chasing the ‘dream’ can set us off down a path strewn with single-minded busy-ness and unobtainable perfection. Unless we rise to the top, have a glittering career, amazing body AND a happy relationship then we have failed or, at the least, have not quite succeeded yet.

But what if we do achieve the ‘dream’ job or life and still feel uninspired and unlit from within? And sometimes we just don’t know what to do? If we do feel unsure about how to proceed, how do we know if we are making the right decision? What do we do?

Big life decisions

Recently, I have had two big decisions playing on my mind. My husband, Rob, and I have been dithering over having another child for the past year. We have 3 already, greedy buggers I know, but we always wanted a big family. Trouble is we can just about function with the children we have at present and with our combined age of 88 years (gah!) time is not on our side. Quite frankly we are knackered old gits. But I also know we would be delighted to welcome another little person to our family.

My other big decision has been whether to grow my yoga business. Opportunities keep on popping up in line with the goals I set myself but more work would mean having to take a step away from my family life.

Pros and cons for each have been whirring around in mind and no decisions were being made so I decided to take a step back from my hardwired idea of ‘must achieve more’ and come at it all from another angle; my values.

At this point of course, I realised that I didn’t have any values that immediately came to mind – and had a mild panic. I was a bit of a value-less vacuum.

A few slaps around the face later and together with Rob (ok, ok, mainly me), we came up with these non-negotiable values for our family. We could add more but these are the top values that are important to us right now:

  • Open and non-judgmental communication between us as a couple and with the kids
  • A healthy balance of work, rest and play
  • Living adventurously and a little outside the box
  • Support network for everyone but enough space and autonomy to grow as individuals.
  • Health and Wellbeing
  • Gratitude for all that we have

From these values, I realised that (a) we definitely need to work on the ‘play’ and ‘adventure’ and ( b) we are just about managing the delicate balance of our life at present.

On this basis, we have reached a decision mutually that it is time to be thankful and not change the status quo. I am putting the final child and extra work on hold for the time being, possibly indefinitely.

I will also add that when I asked Rob for his input he suggested we add ‘homage’ as a family value and that we pay homage to him at least once every day, preferably twice and 3 times in the Summer. Luckily I married him for his sense of humour 😉

These are just our family’s values and you can open your values up to the bigger picture on any topic you like, whatever rocks your boat and makes your heart sing.

That is what our values are for, identifying our truth and living it every day.

I’d love to hear if this feature ends up helping you make a decision of your own.

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  • Thanks so much for writing this Sara!

    It’s vital to stop, introspect and reflect on a daily basis but the frenetic pace of life now means that it’s too easy to forget. Women in particular are constantly faced with the question of balance. Can you really ‘have it all?’ without running yourself ragged and ironically losing your ‘self’ (values and who you really are) in the process?

    It’s an eternal question and you’re quite right when you say goals can shift and may not even bring much joy when you have achieved them. Sometimes what we think we want does not make us happy. There’s a great line from an old Jefferson Airplane song that’s contains a simple truth,

    “And it ain’t what you want it’s what you need.

    If what you want is going to make you a more fulfilled and improved human being then you’ve probably found the right goal.

    • Thank you for replying Diane. I found this exercise really helpful as I didn’t really know what my goals were any more. I still really struggle with the balance!! X

    • Thank you so much, Lucy. I really hope it has made your decision making a bit easier. I found it interesting even just reflecting on my values. Did you work out your own? Xx

  • Thank you so much, Lucy. I really hope it has made your decision making a bit easier. I found it interesting even just reflecting on my values. Did you work out your own? Xx

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