This week has been an interesting one as I’ve been reminded of my values on two occasions. Firstly, I happened to read this post from The Disruptors “Do you want it all now or are you prepared to wait” which has a quote stating “it’s not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are“. This rang true when the very next day I received an email from an online gambling site offering me nice money in return for an article with a link back to their site. So even though I don’t judge anyone wanting to gamble, it completely goes against my values and the purpose of my site. It was easy to say no, but it did make me think about my values when it comes to money.
So what are values?
To me values can be described as two different concepts, but the more you think about it, the more intertwined they become.
Principles & Standards
Values are your principles or standards of behaviour. Things such as honesty, respect, kindness and other behavioural traits. It’s how you treat others and it’s what builds your reputation. Are you known as an honest and trustworthy person or are you known as a scaly character?
The “joy” factor
Values however can also be seen as things that you value most in life in terms of time, money & effort. These are the things that make you happy and make you feel alive. Think about what brings you joy. These may spark some ideas.
- Spending time with your family
- Being creative
- Being in charge of your own time
- Helping others
- Doing adventurous things
- Sharing knowledge with others
- Me-time to read or simply journal
How do values relate to money?
Values and money go hand-in-hand and the more you understand about your own values, the easier it is to make daily decisions and manage your finances.
Looking at your Principles & Standards, these relate directly to how you earn and manage your money.
- Would you ever steal from someone?
- Would you cheat in order to get more money?
- If you’re charged too little at a store would you go back to correct it?
- Do you have a scale of acceptable dishonesty? Is it okay to cheat large corporations and government tax systems, but you would never cheat a friend or a small business?
- What would you do (or not do) for money?
Understanding what your values are will help you to very easily decide whether you should do something or not. If you’ve been thinking about what to declare on your annual tax forms, ask yourself what your values are. If you have an opportunity to make money but it may not be fully legal, think back to your values.
When it comes to the things that bring you joy, look at how you spend your time making money, and how you actually spend your money. Most of us spend 8-10 hours a day working to earn money. This enables us to live and there is a bit of give-and-take between sacrificing some values in order to gain on others. However, is it working out for you? Is the time that you spend earning money worth the sacrifices and are you using your money on things that bring you true joy? Is the way you use money aligned to your values?
Exercises to help you evaluate life
Identify your values
Set aside dedicated time to think about your values. Half an hour is a good starting point but you will probably need more time. Think of characteristics that are really important to you (not just nice to have or things that your parents would like you to have). Also in this list are things that bring you joy; that feeling of being alive! Circle at least 5 but no more that 10 words.
- Connecting to Nature
- Physical Challenges
(This is by no means a complete list! You can search online for many resources on this)
Prioritise your list
Now for a tricky exercise. See if you can priorities these values into your Top 5. This is hard as some values may have the same importance to you. Start off by evaluating each value you chose and assign it a score between 1 and 9 (9 being the highest). A score of 9 would mean that the value is absolutely non-negotiable; it’s super important to you! You may not be able to priories one above the other but try to whittle your list down to only 5 values.
Evaluate against real life
Using your list of 5 values see whether you are in fact giving these values the importance they deserve in your life. It’s easy to see where you really spend your time, money & effort and you know deep inside whether you are truly happy or not.
If you’re seriously interested in this, spend 10 minutes a day for a full week writing down how you spend your time (work, shopping, cooking, cleaning, TV, internet, family, etc) as well as how you spend your money (groceries, eating out, bills, etc)
Does your lifestyle align to your values?
Take it further
If this is striking a chord with you, do something about it right away! There are many sites, books and coaches to help you realign your money and values. And while you’re about it, why not calculate your Financial Health and see if that is where you would want it to be.
If you know of resources or sites that may assist myself and others please add them to the comments below.