I originally wrote this post over a year ago and as I read the entries from “The Daily Stoic”, I wanted to go back and update it and also take another look at what values I believe are important to my life as I get older – what do I believe in and how I want to live my life going forward.
This core value review is something that I believe we all need to do from time-to-time to check and see if we are still on course with the values that we claim to hold and if we have deviated that we have the opportunity to make course corrections or acknowledge that our values and what we believe to be important have changed.
In my opinion, writing about your values takes time and reflection to know what you believe versus simply writing down a bunch of crap that sounds good to the reader and often is only applicable to the public projection of who you are, not the person you look at in the mirror. It took me almost three months the first time I wrote this post to actually figure what values I do hold and be able to articulate why they are important to me at this point in my life. This was the first post that I brought forward to this new blog and I have been working on it on and off since that point.
No, looking critically at your personal core values is not something that can be done in an hour and hold true meaning to you in your daily life. You do have to think and reflect on what you actually believe in, not just what you say you do.
Remember my values are going to be different than yours because my background is probably different. I went into the military at age 17, stayed for over 20 years, got out and worked with troubled youth in a behavioral/educational setting for another 12+ years. So my perspective on what I believe is important is a very personal one and my core values at age 62 are very different than when I wore a younger man’s clothes:
- Do the Work
- Own my Actions
- Be Honest
- Be Resilient
- Be Healthy
- Do What Works for Me
- Be Skeptical
- Keep Thing Simple
- Be Willing to Say No
- Let Others Find Their Own Path
- Do Not Purposely Hurt Other, Unless You Have No Choice
Honor – I will do the right thing for the right reason.
I really do believe that what we do when no one is looking tells a lot about an individual and the man in the mirror does judge me. Not all choices are black and white or even good or bad, there are shades of gray, but when those shades start to get darker, it is time to really look and think about what I am doing and get my ass back to being in the light.
Do the Work – There are no shortcuts to doing something correctly.
I need to do all the work required, not just the parts I enjoy or want to do. I need to do the work, when it is hard and challenging, those are often the times when I make the biggest breakthroughs. Just because there might be an easier way, does not mean it is the correct way or the better way. It doesn’t matter whether it is in relationships, sports, career, working around the house or whatever my interests are, doing the work is a necessary part of life and is not always fun, but it still needs to be done correctly.
Own my actions – I will take responsibility for my actions and inactions.
Sometimes the choices available are not always great or what I want, but of the ones that I do have control over, they are mine to make. I have to remember that it is often the little choices that add up to big actions over time. Remember not making a choice is also a choice and then when choices are made for me, they are ones that usually end up with results that are not what I want or expect.
Be Honest – Tell the truth based on the information that I have available to me and expect others to be truthful in their dealings with me. At times being brutally honest is not the correct way to interact and having some tact is a good thing. I have been called on the carpet for being too blunt and lacking tact, but often in those situations the honest answer was the best answer in the long run. It does not mean that I will always be popular or welcome, but people will know where I stand.
Be Resilient – I know that shit happens.
Then I have to deal with what has happened, pick myself up, make the best of it and keep moving forward each time.
Be Healthy – Aging is forcing me to look at my health differently and be honest about what works and doesn’t for me.
I have changed how I train, what my goals are and how I eat. I also need to keep learning new ideas, approaches and even trying things that scare the shit out of me from time-to-time. Sitting on the couch rusting away, sucking on the boob tube, until I die is not being healthy.
Do What Works for me – I am an experiment of one.
What works for others or everyone else, might not or does work for me. Do the things that match my temperament, abilities, and interests, while keeping an open mind to new possibilities and even look at what has worked in the past for me – perhaps there was a good reason that it did work.
Be Skeptical – “If it is too good to be true, it probably is”.
If there are conflicting studies, philosophies, theories or stories, start looking at whatever it is with the perspective that if there is money to be made or politics involved – there will be bias and information will be presented in the best possible way for someone else to make money or push their agenda. I will make choices about what I think about the subject at hand based on the information I have available to me, but still, be skeptical. If someone claims that they have the only “true” or correct answer and all others are false…I will run the other way, they are either trying to get into my wallet, skivvies or beliefs and do not have my best interests in mind.
Keep things simple – Less is often more.
I do not need nearly as much as the marketing professionals want me to believe. When processes or solutions become purposely complicated ask why this is so if it cannot be explained in simple terms or using facts to back up the claims be wary. The K.I.S.S. principle is not politically correct but is often the correct answer to many questions.
Say “No” – Quite often “no” is the correct answer.
Everyone seems to want me to do this or that, even when I am not all that interested in their this or that or I have different priorities than others might have. I don’t have to be an arse about saying “no”, but I do have to say it and mean it.
Let others find their own path – I am no one’s keeper.
There are many ways and paths to find solutions to life’s questions or problems. I can offer advice based on my own experiences, but attempting to tell or change how others live their lives is not within my control. Sometimes letting go is difficult, but it is necessary. Most of the time it is none of my damn business how others live their lives…
I have to remember that staying on my own path is difficult enough, attempting to keep someone else on their path is impossible.
Finally do not purposely hurt others, unless you have no choice. There are times in life when I can make the choice to stay silent, say words of encouragement or attempt to help others when all I really want to do is hurt them with words or physically. In those situations, it is often best to walk away when I can, then analyze why and how the situation reached that crisis point.
However, if the situation has gotten to the point where I or mine are in danger, I will take the minimum action necessary to defuse or end it as quickly as possible to remain safe and whole. If I do take action after it is over I will reflect on how things escalated, what actually happened, who was involved and how to avoid or resolve similar situations with better results.
The reality is that
I have a very good life and believe that reviewing what my personal core values are was a valuable lesson for me and is something that needs to be a part of my daily life, not just some I do each January as part of my New Year’s resolution. If I do not know my core values by heart, then I will have a difficult time living them.
While I might have a good idea about what they are, I need to be able to articulate them if someone asks me how or what I believe or if I am put in a situation where I need to make a choice, the choice is easier if I know what my core values are surrounding that question.
This does’t mean that I have always lived up to these core values in the past.
In fact some of them I have failed miserably at and nothing I can do will ever change that. I can only take the lessons that I needed to learn from those times that I have screwed up royally and do better going forward.
It also does not mean that I will not make mistakes in the future (I am human), but they do give me guides to help me stay on course when the waters get rough.
Now comes the time to do the work.
Have you ever sat down and thought about what your core values are? Do you need to?
Originally posted on Aging – My Thoughts and written by Harold L. Shaw. I am no gerontologist, expert on aging or anything else, these are just my thoughts and experiences about getting old in today’s world.