One of the best books I every read was Stephanie Frank’s The Accidental Millionaire. For me, the most impactful part of the book was an exercise that helped me determine my values in life. I won’t try to explain it here, because I won’t do it justice. Suffice it to say that “values” in this context means “what is most important to me in my life”, rather than “virtues”.
What this exercise did for me is set up a kind of internal compass, so that when I’m making decisions in my life, both personal and professional, all I have to do is look at my top three values and see which decision is in alignment with my values. Mine happen to be:
- Freedom and travel
- Impact on others
- Experiencing new things
Why do I bring this up? Because over the past few years, I’ve found this tool invaluable when navigating big decisions. But recently, I’ve noticed some of the small decisions I make on a daily basis are not in alignment with my values.
This occurred to me on a recent Saturday when I was out hiking in Sedona with my husband. We found a beautiful secluded spot by Oak Creek and dangled our feet in the water, basked in the sun, and enjoyed the view. In a word – idyllic.
When we got back to the car, the first thing I did was check my email. A few messages came in, my adrenaline spiked, and the peace I’d just experienced was diminished in an instant. That one small act was TOTALLY out of alignment with my #1 value of freedom – I mean, it was Saturday, for goodness sake! Was someone going to have a coaching emergency, and send me an email about it? How on earth would this add to my freedom?
An absentminded minute, that’s all it was, but these small moments add up to form a lifetime, don’t they?
I’m committing to being more vigilant about how I spend my time. In fact, I’ll work on changing how I think from “spending” to “investing”. I challenge you to do the same – and feel free to share your experience!