Perhaps it’s a sign that old age is setting in that I get more and more introspective about defining our family values every year. I find myself looking around, examining how people choose to live and work, and using it to develop a framework for determining what I consider important – a family compass, if you will.
I find myself asking: what is important to us as a family? What do we want to spend our time doing thereby teaching our daughter through action what matters in the grand scheme of things? What are we willing to sacrifice in order to accomplish other (more important) goals?
Creating Your Family Values Compass
If life is a journey, then think of your family values as the compass – an instrument for navigating the thousands of decisions that define your daily life. Intuitively we know what we value, but it’s important to put it down on paper or at the very least, discuss it with our family.
#1: Overarching Values Theme – Determine an overarching focus theme. If you were a company, what would your mission statement be? If your life was a book, what would it be about? That’s your values theme.
#2: Values Translated into Action – Abstract concepts are nothing without action. Think about how you can translate your values theme into concrete daily action. For example, if your values theme is living in harmony with nature, your daily action steps could include recycling, only using eco-friendly products and teaching your kids about the environment.
#3: Give Up to Gain – Ask yourself what you (and your family) are willing to give up to gain what you ultimately desire. That may entail living in a smaller house to take more time off for travel and adventure.
#4: Compromise Points – Think about where you can be flexible in your values theme. Maybe going green means giving up everything toxic and harmful to the environment except treating yourself to a pedicure. It’s important to know where you are willing to bend without breaking the system.
#5: Non-Negotiables – Define what you consider non-negotiables that no matter what will not be sacrificed to any other aspects of the system. Chances are you will end up with competing values. Creating a list of non-negotiables helps prioritize in instances where there is conflict.
There you have it – a roadmap to creating your roadmap through life. Happy travels!