As COVID restrictions are lifted, there is so much more choice available; restaurants are reopening, and people who are vaccinated are more willing to meet up in-person. What might seem exciting could also lead to conflict. With so much living to catch up on, how do we make a choice between these competing demands.
This is where your values can come in handy. Use these to prioritize your time, and say no without apology. Your values are helpful markings on the roadmap of your life, guiding you at every turn.
Values evolve with age, so give yourself some time to identify your values for each area of your life. This might vary a little according to the context, but it shouldn’t vary dramatically. We all have a rough idea about how we want each part of our lives to look like.
I have set out below a grid for you to use to help identify your values. For each area of your life (home life, wider family, friends, working life, etc) identify the following three things -
The vision - This is a generic statement about how you would like each area of our life to look like. For example, you know that you want to be the type of parent who spends at least some time with your kids. You want to be present in their lives, and you want them to know you are there if they really need you. That is the vision.
A vision realised – Then for each vision, identify tangible examples of how that vision might be realised. This is the maximum that you need to do to really reflect this vision. For example, being present in your daughter’s life might mean, at a maximum, checking in with her once a day, or watching 80% of her sporting events. It is important to be clear on when this vision would be realised, because we can sometimes overdo things. For example, we probably don’t need to be at every single one of her sporting events, or we don’t need to check in with her five times a day! Having the comfort that we have done enough frees us up for other parts of our life, without the guilt.
The boundaries – Finally, for each vision, identify tangible examples of how that vision might be breached. For example, if we attend less than one sporting event a month, this might mean we need to focus more time and energy on this vision.
Chris Warren-Dickins LLB MA LPC
Psychotherapist, (Licensed Professional Counselor), Northern New Jersey