Living Your Values

Act according to your values, not your feelings. Determine your values and let your actions come from them. That’s how you live your values.

The Geese Who Waited

It was late fall and a flock of geese sat patiently waiting for the right time to leave for their flight south.

“Let’s go now!” said one impatient goose.

“Oh, no!” the others replied. “It doesn’t feel right. We’ll know when it’s the right time.”

A few days passed and the weather got colder.

“Let’s leave today before we freeze,” some of the more timid geese said.

“No, we’ll wait,” the others said. “It doesn’t feel right. We’ll know when it’s the right time.”

More days passed. Then the geese woke to a crisp day with a deep blue sky and bright sunshine. “Now,” they said to each other. “This is the perfect time to fly.”

They stood and stretched their wings. But one goose craned her neck and saw grey clouds in the distance. She pointed them out to the others. “If we leave now,” she said, “we’ll fly right into that storm.”

“You’re right!” the other geese said. “We’ll wait. And we’ll know when it’s the right time.”

And so the geese settled back down, waiting for the perfect day to fly south.

Moral: Those who wait for the perfect moment to act will wait a lifetime. [1]

My Routines

I start and end my typical days (the days I’m not traveling or engaged in some special project) with basic routines. I have my morning (AM1 and AM2) routines and my evening (PM) routine. For example, my AM1 routine includes meditation, journaling, writing, and walking + calisthenics and stretching.

In fact, I have a series of tiny habits that I have incorporated, or am working to incorporate, into my life, as per Brian Johnson’s “algorithms”.

I don’t wake up and ask myself if I feel like getting up, or stretching, or writing or any of the things that are part of my routine. How I feel doesn’t come into the picture. I have decided in advance who I want to be and I act based on that decision. And because I have turned these behaviors into habits, they don’t require much willpower or self-discipline. I just do them.

Put Behavior, Identity, And Feelings In The Right Order

In his book, Resilience: Hard-Won Wisdom For Living A Better Life, author Eric Greitens, former Navy Seal and Rhodes scholar, shares an idea which is wonderfully eye- and mind-opening.

Eric says that most of us behave based on how we feel in the moment. These behaviors then determine how we see ourselves, our identity. “I got up this morning and had a great work out. I am rockin’ it!” Or: “I didn’t feel like getting up and working out this morning. I guess I’m just a lazy lout!”

Eric’s brilliant, mind-opening idea is this. When we follow this pattern: feelings -> behavior -> identity, we have it backwards. A more mature and helpful model is this: identity -> behavior -> feelings. We decide on the person we want to become, act according to that identity, and let our feelings rise from those actions.

“I do it because I’m an adult.”

The mature part of us, the part moving toward self-actualization and the Excelerated Life, knows that when something needs to be done, we do it. And we do it regardless of how we feel.

As Marelisa Fabrega points out, the decision about what gets done isn’t based on thoughts or emotions. “I do it,” Marelisa says, “because I’m an adult, and I’m in charge.”

Act According To Your Values

Act according to your values, not your feelings. To live your values, determine what they are and let your actions come from them.

Remember our model: Identity/Values->Actions->Feelings NOT Feelings->Actions->Identity/Values.

(If you haven’t defined your “Valid Values”, maybe you want to complete some exercises to help you. Try the Excelerator Jump Start: Valid Values. This Excelerator Jump Start provides quick actions you can take right now to Jump Start your Excelerated Life, to begin defining and living your Valid Values.)

T-BEAR

Keep the T-BEAR model in mind to help you live your values. Remember, T-BEAR says Thoughts>Beliefs>Emotions>Actions>Results> (and back to Thoughts, in a kind of circle).

In fact, the circle goes both ways. Thoughts influence Beliefs and Beliefs influence Thoughts. Beliefs influence Emotions (or feelings) and Emotions (feelings) influence Beliefs. Emotions influence Actions and Actions influence Emotions. Indeed, it is usually easier to change your feelings by changing your actions . . . you can act your way into a feeling better than you can feel your way into action.

Decide who you want to be — your identity and the values you want to live by. Keep your thoughts positive and focused on your identity. Then, let your actions come out of those thoughts and your identity and values.

Don’t Wait For The Perfect Time – Do It Now

It has been said that we aren’t what we think we are, but what we think, we are. Don’t be like the geese waiting for things to feel right before you act. Act today. Act NOW.

Live your values by doing what you have decided to do, based on who you are and what you value. As far as possible, turn your behaviors into habits, so they become automatic. Then do what has to be done because that is who you are. That is embracing the Excelerated Life™!


Defining and living your Valid Values is one step in creating your Excelerated Life™, a life of flourishing, of well-being, meaning, and purpose.

Read more about the Excelerated Life™.


Footnotes:

[1] I adapted this story from a fable by Jack Spilman at Tasty Fables for the Soul.
https://tastyfables.wordpress.com/tag/fables-about-taking-action/ [See Resources.]

Resources:

Fabrega, Marelisa. “The Reason Why You Procrastinate (It’s Not What You Think).” Daring To Live Fully. Marelisa Fábrega,,. Web. 23 December 2019.
https://daringtolivefully.com/why-you-procrastinate

Greitens, Eric. Resilience: Hard-Won Wisdom For Living A Better Life. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 2015.

Spilman, Jack. “The Geese Who Waited.” Tasty Fables for the Soul. Jack Spilman, 19 February 2015. Web. 26 December 2019.
https://tastyfables.wordpress.com/tag/fables-about-taking-action/


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