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To Your Core Values

Written by Peter Horsfield

If you are willing to own it, you can change it!

I know what I have to do, I also know that there’s no getting around it, however, procrastination is how I like to start my day. I’m still trying to understand why I find such reassurance and motivation by having this process, maybe it’s an echo of my youth stalling before diving into a cold pool at 5.30 am. If you’ve done something similar I’m sure you understand the desire to delay and self-psych it entails.

Starting my day 99% of the time looks like opening emails, checking the financial news, industry talk and general news. Last Wednesday was no different. One article I came across was about an Instagram show called Cuppa with Kumi.

Kumi Taguchi is a presenter with ABC’s Compass program. Compass and Kumi interview philosophers, public leader’s religious leaders and everyday Australians about life and spirituality. Intrigued, I gave myself a reason to procrastinate a little longer I decided to watch the video connecting to values.

The title “Connecting to Values” resonated with me because as an adviser I believe my most important value is facilitating, accountability and support for clients, team, colleagues and myself to live a life of authenticity and alignment to our core values.

When your value is clear your decisions are easy and our financial security is the by-product of smart choices and our actions. Kumi interviewed Johann Hari Author of Lost Connections about how we can better define our values and some simple steps we can all do so to move forward and live a life more aligned to our core values?

One of the best lines in the interview was about junk values and these being like KFC for the soul. “We all know about junk food and how it has taken over our diets and made us physically sick. But there is also strong evidence that junk values have also taken over our minds and made us mentally sick too”. Said Johann Hari.

"Junk values being the values that we think will make us happy, or only happy for a short time, and after we they make us feel much worse even worse have long term negative effects on our quality of life," he said..
Examples of junk values being, money, status, showing off.

The problem is that the more these values drive us, the more susceptible we are to become depressed and anxious……By quite a significant amount.

Modern society has us immersed in a culture of consumerism. Resulting in society and us as individuals placing more and more importance and value on money and status, unfortunately, this has been for most if not all of our lifetimes. Resulting in us being trained by society, our peers, advertisers and our tribe to seek out happiness in all the wrong places. Even when we innately know that these junk values of status, money and being liked are shallow. The problem is that the society we live in has a machine-like design output process, to get us to neglect what is important to us i.e. our own core values.

So how do we move away from this?

Researchers Professor Tim Kasser and Nathan Duncan wanted to answer this same question. They enrolled teenagers and parents to meet up every few weeks over several months.

The first activity they asked the group to do, was to make a list of everything you’ve got to have, whatever you think that means. The answers they got back started with food, shelter, clothes etc. then their lists continued to not be the essential things but important to me and would like things i.e. latest iPhone, Nike sneakers etc.

Next, they asked the individuals group how and why they would feel differently if they got this ‘thing”. The response being “others would envy me. I would be part of the group”. Questions then followed around why these material things would make someone feel worthy of envy, more accepted and being of a higher status. How advertisers are our frenemies and ways they make us feel to buy what they are selling us?

In later sessions, the researchers asked the group to talk about moments in their life when they had experienced moments of meaning and connection.
Responses included reading, writing, being with their children etc. Activities and questions were then given to the group such as, “How can you build more of your life around pursuing activities and experiences that would give you more meaning and connection in life and less around buying the things you don’t need in life, so you can display them to others and share on your social media to make other people jealous?”

The result was surprising “It was like Alcoholics Anonymous, but for consumers”. As Johnna Hari said, "Just by talking about the experiences with others, (we don’t do this very often in our culture), lead to a significant shift in values of the individuals within in the group and away from their feelings of depression and anxiety”.

The most valuable discovery was finding “it’s more important and effective for the individual to self-discover their own values. Also these individual moments that are important and give meaning to us as individuals and how to process life".

Rather than being told what to value and why we should build more of our meaningful values around the times, we have felt good. Not building our values around the importance of more money, higher status and the need to have others good opinions of us.

Financial security is important.

I would argue attaining financial security is imperative to living a more confident life, however after achieving financial security, continuing to seek more money to fill a void inside you, impress others or try to make others envy you, is not going to result in you achieving more happiness.

The dividend of financial security is the confidence and security it gives you to be more of your authentic self and experience more of that which is important to you i.e. more meaning and connections, not to have more stuff. Another researcher Professor Brett Ford and with the help of other scientists wanted to research happiness. Specifically, the question is that if you were to spend an hour a day trying to make yourself happier would you actually become happier?

Their research was done across four countries. USA, Russia, Japan & Taiwan. First findings of what they found they said were ‘really weird”.
In the USA if you try to make yourself happier, in the main you do not become happier. In other countries, if you do try to make yourself happier, you do become happier.

Their research lead to answer the question of why this was occurring.
When individuals in western “consumerist” societies try to make themselves happier we do something for ourselves i.e. work harder to get a promotion, buy something expensive, reward ourselves etc. As consumers, we have an individualistic view of what it means for us to be happy i.e. you should help you.

However in the main in these other places Japan, Russia and Taiwan when you wanted to feel better you did something for someone else i.e. your friends, family, community. So in these societies, there is an instinctive collective (not individualistic) ideal for what it means to be happy.
The profound error we (I) seem to experience and repeat is that we (i) double down on things when we (i) are not feeling happy. We (i) work harder to get a higher status and buy more flashy things to feel more important.

The good news is that we (i) also have a desire to thrive, experience more meaning, moments and live a more fulfilling life.

If you are willing to own it, you can change it!

As an exercise, I encourage you to challenge yourself and your values. Asking yourself questions and writing down what is important to you, what do you need and why?

Reflect back, recall and write down all the times in your life you have had moments of meaning and connection.
• How did you feel?
• What were you doing?
• Who were you with?

I found simply recalling and writing down these experiences and feelings made me feel incredible joy, happiness and pride while warming my soul.
By joining the dots you can now draw on what’s important to you and why, the experiences and moments that have had a positive influence on making you, you!

The final activity is to write your own list of everything you need to do and have, that will enable you to experience a higher quality of life, live a life aligned to your very own core values and motivate you to do the work to make what you want, your reality. I’m positive that like me you will find your answers revealing as much as a journey.

The best thing is that it’s you who benefits most from your own discoveries.
If you are stuck in a funk or you’re lost in a cloud of complexity feel free to contact me. Most often in life, we just need someone to talk things through and to lighten our load a little. The following article may also be of help.

Are You in The Way of Your Own Success?

If Not Now Then When?
Confidence- The Only Plan you Need to Achieve Your Goals Reboot

This post was written by Peter Horsfield, as such, they are his personal views. Peter helps you to focus on what’s most important, the right strategies at the right time. To learn more about How to Become Financially Independent visit Peter Horsfield Smart Advice

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