Values "Next Actions"

It's not enough to just have values, they must become the cornerstones of your decision making process. Anybody can say they have values, but that's not the point. In fact, you shouldn't even have to articulate them in order for the people you interact with most to be able to describe them; if you actually live your values on a day-to-day basis, it becomes obvious what they are.

I've written about my values in the past and I want to make sure that I don't fall into the trap of making a list that sounds good but isn't actually practiced. I think the best way to prevent this from happening is to actually make a list of value next-actions that will help you live a life that is aligned with your values. This is sort of taking a page out of Getting Things Done and the importance of having truly actionable "next actions" for every project. By making sure that your next action is something that can truly be accomplished even the largest of projects can keep moving forward.

For example, one of my stated values is "growth." Some of my next actions to further this value are, "Watch a TED talk," "Finish reading current book," and "Begin researching ebook project." Another one of my values is "family" so some possible actions I can take to further this is, "call cousin in Florida," "email my grandparents," and "go to brother's hockey game on Wednesday."

Values can be very amorphous things when you don't take the time to actually figure out what it looks like to live with them guiding your actions. I recommend sitting down and giving yourself 2-3 actions for each of your main values at the beginning of every week. You don't necessarily have to do it for every single value that adhere to. In fact, I think it's probably a better idea to focus on only one or two values a week in order to make the biggest impact.

The bottom line is that your values mean nothing if your actions don't align with them. Give yourself some next-actions ahead of time and the rest takes care of itself.