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Prioritizing & Balance: Defining Core Values

November 9th, 2009 admin

It’s about time to wrap up my thoughts on how to find balance (and move on to something new) but I have one more thought to share. Since I moved to the east coast, I’ve found living in a new place (far, far away from my family and friends) has been both challenging and liberating. I love the sense that this new home–and the new school year–are opportunities to start fresh and really get my life in order.

On Finding Balance

For the past couple weeks I’ve been sharing some thoughts on how to balance your life, and I’m actually enjoying working on this right along with you. It’s no simple thing, really. How do you decide what time gets allotted where?

A few months ago I came across an article in Real Simple that talked about defining your “Core Values” and how it could make your life more streamlined and successful. I tucked it away for a long time, but pulled out the article a few weeks ago, and decided to give it a shot.

If you worked in your personal mission statement, you’re already halfway there. If not, why not get started with me now?

Core Values as Priorities

The point of deciding on your “Core Values” is to help you pre-align your priorities, before the opportunity comes up for you to get off track. I literally have a list of them written down, and plan to post it where I will see it all the time–that way if I’m wondering if I should take on a new bit of work or spend more time with my friends, I’ll have my personal values (and pre-made decisions) staring me in the face.

For me, a Core Value is either a “focal point” or a “way of life,” so to get you started, here are a couple of example core values (some are my own) and how they could apply to everyday life.

  • Education. The way of life here is to “always be learning” so this will apply even after school. During school, it means education is a priority and deserves time and effort devoted to it–so no skipping out on study sessions to watch TV (especially when you can DVR it for later).
  • Family First. This is one of the first items on my list, and it basically means that if necessary I will drop everything to support my loved ones. I will buy a plane ticket using money I’d saved for something else, I will miss a big deadline, I will do whatever it takes in an emergency situation. And in day-to-day life, it means I will make time for my family, even when I’m tempted to do something for myself.
  • Health. Besides eating well and making time for exercise, this could apply to getting enough sleep (a common problem in college, especially for yours truly). It also applies to mental health, so taking time to relax could fall into this category.

These are just a few ideas. You could really go anywhere with it. Some other items on my list are “People Before Things” (or “forgive your brother when he breaks your bike”), Gratitude, and Communication.

The Bottom Line
Again, there is no sure-fire way to get yourself completely organized and balanced, but making a list like this helps you be really aware of what you want out of life–and that can help you make better decisions in the long run, because you know where the balance of your priorities will go.

It’s as simple as asking yourself: How does this fit in with my core values? Give it a try–How does taking on an extra class/quitting your job/spending free time reading/anything else fit in with your core values?
What about you? What focal points, goals, and values get the most attention and emphasis in your life?


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