Knowing and acting from your values means you are living an authentic life. Defining you Valid Values and choosing actions based on them — not based on how you feel — is embracing the Excelerated Life™!
Learning A Lesson
As a young husband and father, I believed that family well-being was one of my highest values. However, over time I realized that although I said I valued my family, I was spending a large portion of my time at work. I routinely worked nine or 10 hours a day. On many Saturdays and sometimes Sundays, I was in the office. Slowly I came to realize that I was putting work and career success ahead of my family.
But that was not the life I wanted. I began making different decisions about how much time I would put in at work. I began leaving my work at the office. I left off continuously thinking about my job and the projects I was involved in. I started living the value that my family was important to me.
More recently, I’ve taken a fresh, intentional look at living from my values. Each year, I select a word or phrase to be my “theme” and focal point for the year. This year, I selected the word “Excelerate!” I am using this theme to help me continue to develop and live out what it means to embrace the Excelerated Life™.
As part of this practice, I used the first steps of The Valid Values Excelerator to re-define my own Valid Values. From that exercise, I selected these: integrity, family well-being, health, vitality, wisdom, mastery. My goal now is to incorporate these values into my daily activities, to make them part of my routine, such that I am living in congruence with what is important to me.
We All Have Values
Values are principles or qualities we deem as worthy or desirable. We all have values, whether we realize them or not, whether we can name them or not. We all value some qualities over others, but we aren’t always aware of what those are.
One of the keys to creating your life is to choose your values, then consciously take steps to live them.
Act On Values — Not Feelings
A practice of the Excelerated Life™ is to act on principles and values, not on feelings. One way we do this is to become a “doer” and not a “feeler”. [Chandler]
A Doer accomplishes the things she has set out to do, regardless of how she feels. The Feeler only does things when she feels like it. The Doer, as Dr. Stephen Covey writes in The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People, is proactive. The Feeler is reactive.
“The ability to subordinate an impulse to a value is the essence of the proactive person,” writes Dr. Covey. “Reactive people are driven by feelings, by circumstances, by conditions, by their environment. Proactive people are driven by values — carefully thought about, selected and internalized values.” [Covey]
Reactive people – Feelers – act based on how they feel in the moment. Their identity comes from their behavior. It looks like this: Feelings > Actions > Identity.
However, Eric Greitens, former Navy SEAL and author, says if that’s how we approach life, we have those 3 words backwards. The Doers live them in the opposite direction: Identity > Actions > Feelings.
“You begin,” Eric writes, “by asking, ‘Who am I going to be?’ . . . So what’s next? Act that way. . . the way you act will shape the way you feel. . . If you want to feel differently, act differently. . . ” [Greitens]
Of course, proactive people are influenced by their environment. But their response is based on their values, not their feelings. [Covey]
Lose Or Learn?
“It’s not what happens to us, but our response to what happens to us that hurts us.” [Covey] There is a space between what happens to us and how we respond. We have a choice. We can react based on our feelings in the moment, or we can respond based on our values and our identities.
When we choose the latter, obstacles and problems become learning moments. We grow stronger from meeting the challenges. “In fact,” says Dr. Covey, “our most difficult experiences become the crucibles that forge our character and develop the internal powers, the freedom to handle difficult circumstances in the future and to inspire others to do so as well.” [Covey]
It begins by identifying your values and then deciding to live them.
Identify Your “Valid Values”
So what about you? What values do you live by? Note that I didn’t ask what values you say are important to you . . . but what values do you show are important to you by how you live them? Sometimes the values you think are important and the values you are actually living out are not the same.
But when your life is in congruence with your Valid Values — the principles you deem as important and desirable — you feel in harmony and balanced. If you are feeling out of touch or disconnected, you may not be living from your values. When your actions are based primarily on how you feel, you may not be living from your values. If you often find yourself in reactive mode, you may not be living from your values. It’s a good idea to check in from time to time to see that you are being true to your values, what ever they may be.
If you want an exercise to aid you in defining the values that are important to you – along with suggestions for incorporating them into various aspects of your life – use The Valid Values Excelerator. (If you don’t want to take the time to go through the entire program, Steps 1 – 4 lead you through identifying your Valid Values.)
Add Values To Your Life
Contemplating what is important to us and how we express our Valid Values brings us more into congruence with our values so that we are living authentically and true to ourselves. We can choose to live out of our Valid Values, but we must do so with intention.
Doing the work of defining what your values are (as in The Valid Values Excelerator) is a necessary first step. If you primarily act based on how you feel, instead of what you really want, take the step. If you observe that what you say you want does not coincide with your actions, take the step. If the life you are living does not match the life you want, take the step. That is embracing the Excelerated Life™!
Excelerated Values™ – defining and living your Valid Values – is one step in creating your Excelerated Life™, a life of flourishing and well-being, and a life of meaning, purpose, and service.
Chandler, Steve. “Doing Something or Feeling Something?”.”The Small Business Advocate”. Small Business Network, Inc, 10 April 2011. Web. 01 Oct. 2018. https://www.smallbusinessadvocate.com/small-business-article/doing-something-or-feeling-something-2494
Covey, Stephen R. The Seven Habits Of Highly Successful People. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1989
Greitens, Eric. Resilience: Hard-Won Wisdom For Living A Better Life. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 2015.