Once I designed a Values Cake for a workshop. It had a giant V with one side full of belief words and the other side full of behavior words. All the words started with V. Yet the only words which were truly values were the ones where the two lines intersected at the bottom. I called this construct the Values Vertex.
New Year’s Resolutions often fall by the wayside due to lack of a plan and self-reward system. Give yourself a Valentine by making your beliefs and behaviors match.
A person’s real values are often not understood clearly. The Values Vertex is where one’s beliefs and behaviors intersect. This is the point of true balance.
People often claim certain beliefs, yet their behavior doesn’t reflect those purported beliefs. The process of self-reflection may help to make New Year’s Resolutions more valid and effective in a person’s life. One way to bring this about is to take a realistic look at one’s beliefs, then at habits and behaviors, and look for where the two meet. That point reflects a real value. A clear-eyed look at cause and effect will help in developing a realistic plan in order to live a more authentic life.
Make List of Beliefs to Help Define Your Values
In order to establish a baseline to use in the comparison, make a list of 10 or so beliefs which are held dear. Include hopes, dreams, goals, and plans if desired. You may want to start with a longer list and trim it down to the most dearly held.
They could include honesty, creativity, environmentalism, helping the downtrodden, spending time with family, working for peace, religious ideas, and any other beliefs.
Make List of Behaviors to Help Clarify Your Values
The next step will take an extraordinary amount of integrity since many would be tempted to fool themselves here. But it will only work with those who make a sincere effort to be honest with themselves.
Now make a list of actual behaviors in the last several years. Write down how free time is spent, where extra money goes, what holds one’s imagination, and what brings joy.
Match Beliefs with Behaviors to Identify True Values
Using both lists, try to match up beliefs and behaviors or habits. When a belief and behavior match, that is a person’s real life value. People can find that some items on the belief list are often talked about but not acted upon. Those are conversation topics, not authentic values.
Consider Cause and Effect of Values
Just as children study cause and effect, adults could benefit from a close inspection of reasons for their behaviors. Sometimes this knowledge helps to bring beliefs and behavior more in line with each other. This helps one live a more genuine life based on real values, leading to more self-awareness.
Tie New Year’s Resolutions to Realistic Plans
After going through the process of examining where beliefs and behaviors coincide and where they miss the mark, it would be well worth revising your New Year’s Resolutions in order to live a more authentic life.
Give yourself a Valentine by clarifying your values this year. Consider your beliefs and behaviors, identify your values, then coordinate future actions to accompany the newly clarified values. Doing this may even make your New Year’s Resolutions actually last past Valentine’s Day.
Copyright Hildra Tague. Obtain permission for use online or in print. First published in part on Suite101.com.—————————-