"You can't pass on what you don't possess."
When I sit down with my third grader to do homework, we talk about three key values: Diligence (working hard), Excellence (a commitment to checking our work and doing our best), and Attitude (taking responsibility for our tones of voice and choosing a positive perspective).
These values quickly became daily goals where he can earn a "point" for each value he demonstrates while doing his work. In our household economy, points translate into fun activities (watch a show, pick the family game, take a trip to the park, and so forth). We had implemented a points system on the advice of family friends, but then tailored it by adding these values-based goals. This plan has worked wonders for my son’s engagement and morale as a student and, full disclosure, it has also given me some sanity back as a parent!
Here's what makes me laugh about all of this: I was so proud of myself for coming up with this plan only to realize a few weeks later that I wasn't modeling these values in the less interesting parts of my own work. Sure, it's easy to engage with these values during the fun parts of work such as empowering other people to attain their goals. I find it harder to show the same commitment level when left alone to do the mechanics of the business, particularly as an extrovert. It can be so easy to bounce between subjects, dabble, or to do "just enough" before moving on to something more interesting.
Have you heard the expression "you can't pass on what you don't possess?" If I’m going to ask my son to commit to and care about these values, I need to model them myself. Caring about them isn't enough on its own, and if I want more than just the idea of these values in my life I need to integrate them into the fabric of who I am.
So, where do I start?
Visual Reminders: Now prominently displayed on my desk are 3 points (poker chips) of my very own to prompt me to think about these values as I work.
Sharing Commitments: There is something powerful about sharing our realizations with others that solidifies them in our own minds and actions. Something as simple as writing this post impacts how I engage with what is important to me.
Self-Examination: I am speaking with my own life coach about my values, my priorities, and a vision for my future even as it evolves with the different seasons of my life. This helps me unpack some of the blocks that can get in my way and keep me from actually living according to what I am saying is important to me. Having an honest conversation about attitude unlocked so much for me this week and now my creative juices are flowing again!
Accountability: I am setting times on my calendar at the end of each week to look back and assess how things went. What worked? When was I living according to these values? When did I drop the ball (or outright ignore them), and what needs to change next time?
It's important to set goals that are in alignment with our values, and sometimes our values themselves need to become the goal. If you have a vision for how you would like to be living that isn’t fully congruent with your current choices, I completely understand. We are all works in progress! I encourage you to try any of the methods above, and would love to hear what is most effective for you. If you are looking for someone to come alongside you on your journey to serve as a sounding board and thought partner, please connect with me. I would love nothing more than to help you live out what matters most to you.