I once asked a mentor of mine how I could improve my ability to make faster decisions. His response: Get clear about your values, and you’ll always know what to do in every situation.
Turns out, it really is that simple.
A value is defined as, “A person’s principles or standards of behavior; one’s judgment of what is important in life.”
Your values will direct you, and drive your ambition as you pursue different goals over the course of your life.
Yet, there seems to be some confusion.
I find most people skip over the process completely, thinking they don’t need to define what’s most important to them because they don’t believe it will help, or because they just don’t care.
These same people are slow to make simple decisions, and are completely paralyzed by big decisions, often avoiding them altogether and settling for the random shit that comes their way. They live in a state of fear, scarcity and confusion on a regular basis. Most of the time they’re not doing what they REALLY want to do and it causes massive unhappiness.
Is this you?
Things don’t have to be so difficult. Define your values, then set goals that are in line with them, and you’ll begin to live exactly how you want to live. It takes some planning and forethought, but it’s absolutely worth your time.
I won’t lie. It isn’t always going to be easy. People in your life will push back, and talk shit behind your back. You’ll have days where you’ll be overwhelmed with self-doubt. You WILL make mistakes. You’ll probably lose money. You’ll definitely cry.
As long as you’re alive, you’re going to have problems that need to be solved. But remind yourself that one day you will die, and that day is unknown. How do you really want to spend your time?
If you don’t know where to begin, peep my top 5 values below.
These don’t have to be yours. Do your own thing to make yourself happy. Google ‘Values’ if you need more ideas.
This isn’t a comprehensive list, but these are the main things that drive my decisions every single day:
If something will compromise my physical and mental health, I won’t do it. I recognize that if my health is fucked and I don’t have optimal energy and focus every day, I can’t enjoy or appreciate anything else in my life. My health comes before all else.
I also won’t do something if my relationship will be compromised or harmed. I will protect my marriage with everything that I have. I will take out the garbage even if it’s the last thing I feel like doing because I know it will make my wife happy. I take care of myself so I can take care of her.
I will do what needs to be done, even if I don’t feel like doing it; exercise, eat vegetables, floss my teeth, walk the dogs, make my bed, etc. I will recognize when I’m being lazy and when I simply need a rest. Being disciplined allows me to have everything I want in life. It doesn’t mean things magically happen while I sit on my ass. It means I work hard and delay instant gratification so I can have what I REALLY want.
Discipline and freedom go hand in hand. This means I live debt free. I work for myself so I maintain as much control over my time as possible so I can do the things that make me happy every day. If something compromises my freedom, I don’t do it and I don’t buy it.
For me, traveling is not a luxury, it’s a necessity for growth. It’s education. It fulfills my need for uncertainty and adventure. Traveling is stressful, and sometimes downright painful. It’s certainly not as glamorous as Instagram models would like us to believe but it’s also pretty awesome, and I’ll prioritize a plane ticket over material shit any day.
Please understand that chasing happiness isn’t always realistic, perhaps that’s not important to you. Life is filled with pain and stupid shit we don’t always want to do.
I’m fortunate to know what I want, it wasn’t without effort. Becoming clear about your own values isn’t rocket science. I’m not being facetious here. This process takes time, focus, deliberation with your spouse and soul searching. It’s worth it for you to do the work.
If you’re afraid, do it anyway. That’s usually how you know you’re on the right track.