Making Time for What You Value Most

Making-Time-for-What-You-Value-Most Making Time for What You Value Most

This week was a good time to think about what you value in your life.

France’s President Emmanuel Macron delivered an impassioned speech to Congress this week about what he values and what he believes in. Hearing him speak got me thinking about my own beliefs and values.

“Our strongest beliefs are challenged by the rise of a yet unknown new world order,” Macron said. So true. There are so many forces these days that are testing our values and our beliefs — those we hold as individuals, and as nations.

That’s why I think it’s a good exercise for all of us to stop and think, “What do I believe?” “What do I value?”

Do you know what you believe in? Do you live your life according to those beliefs and values? None of us are perfect at walking our walk, but what I’ve found helpful is to stop and check in with one’s self and assess how one’s values and beliefs are lining up with one’s actual life.

For example…

Do you talk about saving the planet and then not recycle?

Do you talk about the importance of parenting and then look at your schedule and see that you are a workaholic? 

Do you talk about women’s empowerment, but as a business leader, you refuse to provide paid family leave?

Are you a registered Democrat, but in your mind and heart you are more purple than blue and yet you’re afraid to register as an Independent? Or vice versa?

Do you talk about brain health and then not follow what doctors tell you? (My daughter told me to add this because I need to do a better job at what I’m telling others to do, like managing stress and eating less sugar.)

This week, I spoke at a women’s business conference in San Francisco. I thought quite a bit about what message I could offer the crowd of thousands of women that would rise above the other professional advice they might hear that day about branding, networking, or asking for a raise.

I thought long and hard and asked myself, “what do I wish someone would have said to me when I was 20, 30, 40 and beyond?”

Here are the three takeaways I shared with the crowd. (Trust me, I had a lot more to share than this, but I only had 25 minutes on stage.)

1) Look at your life like a big pie (or cake, if that’s more your thing). Then, draw a pie of your life. Divide the pie into pieces and name those pieces, with the biggest piece of the pie going towards what you value most in your life.

Color code the pie, and then color code your schedule. Check it monthly. Is what you value being valued by you? If not, rearrange it. Let this serve as a visual reminder to yourself as to what you value. This might sound simplistic, but I think it’s practical.

My pie consists of: my children, my larger family, my work, my friends, my mission to end Alzheimer’s, my health, my self-care, my faith, my joy and my “yippee!” moments. I try to focus my life on these pieces every day.

2) Your work is not your family. Don’t think of your work in the same way that you think of your family. It’s a business. Now, if you are in the workplace, use your voice to bring change and compassion into that space. That’s not only good for your health. It’s good for the bottom line. Employees that feel seen, valued and treated with compassion are more likely to be loyal and stay longer.

I’ve spent the vast majority of my work life in professions that didn’t value compassion, kindness or care. Instead, they valued competition, an incessant work ethic, and a survival-of-the-fittest mentality. It never dawned on me that I could use my voice in the news business to change it to be a more compassionate place. Today, I know that I can.

No one also spoke to me about the importance of emotional intelligence. I now tell my children that their emotional intelligence, coupled with a strong work ethic, will be what they will really need to succeed in life. And, if they find themselves in a business that doesn’t value their emotional intelligence, they should leave.

3) Every year, put a day on your schedule towards the end of the year and block it out for a yearly personal check-in/self-inquiry day. Ask yourself, how has the year impacted you? Have you changed, if at all? Have your opinions changed? Your beliefs? Who are you today compared to the year before?

Growing and evolving aren’t things to be scared of. They’re things to embrace.

Finally, know this: you are the only person who can make your life meaningful. You are the only person who can prioritize your health. You are the only person who can determine why you are here on this earth and what you are meant to do here. If you don’t care about yourself, then that sends a message to others not to care, either.

Self-confidence can disappear, so work to stay on top of it. Work to get it back if it fades, but don’t despair if it does fade. It can fade for all of us at different times, but you can resurrect it, and in doing so, you resurrect yourself.

Surround yourself with others who value what you value — not people who are the same as you, but people who value the same things as you. Keep your eyes, ears, mind, and (most importantly) your heart open. Know that you will experience heartbreak, loss, grief and pain, but you will also experience joy, laughter, love and plenty of “yippee moments” along the way.

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