Can You Act Contrary to Your Values?

You have probably heard the David Campbell quote: "Discipline is remembering what you want."  We all have more wants than we can keep up with.  That's why tools like Getting Things Done (the book and system by David Allen), PDA's and note-taking applications exist.  We forget what we want.  Our higher, more important values typically are not front of mind.  Over time, we make a series of choices from a limited menu, only to regret later never completing the truly important things.  We forget what we really want.  Do you ever do that?

Plan to Remember


That's why it's a good exercise to write, communicate, share and articulate your values.  If you can create a set of personal or corporate values and let them guide your choices and actions, your decisions are informed by your true values.  You will make fewer decisions without considering the truly important options.  Short term desires won't crowd out long-held dreams and desires.

You can act contrary to your long-term values by making poor choices in the short term.

Consider this first-person example: I value serving others and making a difference.  I also desire comfort.  Many evenings, I choose comfort and eat a dessert.  I've done that so many times that I'm overweight, making me less healthy and limiting my ability to serve others and makea positive difference.  (Sure this is extreme, but it makes the point.)  I often choose short-term reward over delayed gratification.  I choose comfort over impact or significance.

Your actions expose your true values - every time, at least the ones in the front of your mind.  Each choice you make to go to work, to call in sick, to help your kids with school or watch a football game; to spend time on Twitter of Facebook, or do the reports you've been postponing; every choice you make is a value-judgment.  You value the option you selected above the option (or hundreds of options) you passed up.

New Inputs

But when a new idea becomes important to you, when your values change, your mind and your body don't believe you.  You must train yourself to behave according to your new values.  If you've been a people-pleaser you must force yourself to say no for a while until it becomes natural.  If you don't reinforce your new value, it will become an unfulfilled wish.

So as you choose your actions today, do you choose for the past or the future?  Do you remember what's important to you and make your choices accordingly?  Or do you go with the flow of your habits and years of choices?  You're free to choose.  What will you choose today?

The question remains:

Is my true value comfort?  What values do your actions testify to? Are we over-emphasizing our  intentions and under-emphasizing our results?  What do you think?

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