Day 1: Defining my Core Values

Day the First, y’all. Defining my Core Values, or: Why I Cannot Get Away With Saying ‘Y’all’.

So it’s Day One: Define Your Core Values day. The Day One section talks a little bit about men feeling shiftless, having less drive and ambition than the men of generations gone by. There could be a bunch of reasons for this, but I’m inclined to think it’s because all men were born with the innate need to kill a mastodon, and thus wander around feeling unfulfilled at all times. Personally – do I feel shiftless? Sometimes. Certainly when depressed, I feel all . . . weird and floaty about life. (Weird and floaty is an accurate descriptor, and I do not care to explain it.)

What does defining core values do for us? In a general sense, and according to the 30 Days blog, it can give us purpose, make life simpler, prevent us from making bad choices and give us confidence. In particular, to me, I think that if you don’t have a basic set of defining values then you’re going to hit a lot of places where you can act…badly, for lack of a better term, and in a way you might regret.Nobody likes that; we all have plenty of reasons to lie awake at night without adding anything of our own creation.

An important thing I think I should add is that this list is so, so very personal. I don’t need you to follow my code, and that’s the tricky part – remembering that your own way is not the best way. It’s just the one that works for you. And you will sound like an ass if you start preaching from a pulpit of moral certitude. Also, I will shout at you.

Now, onto my instructions!

1. Sit somewhere comfy and relax. Not a problem. House of book nerds = at least three chairs in house designated for reading and writing. I chose the giant yellow puffy chair, if anyone cares.

2. Have the proper tools. I had a notebook, a pen and a light-duty nail gun. Always be prepared.

3. Ask: What is truly important to me? This was the hardest part to me. They say: “Think about those moments in your life when you felt completely whole and fulfilled…” -Heh? Wha-? I can’t remember breakfast. So, yeah, challenging. I first came up with the usual, like: “Oh, I feel so serene in my yoga classes,” but you know what? No, I don’t. I wonder if my underwear is sticking out of my weird capri-things that all women are contractually obligated to wear. I’m annoyed that my hair is always touching my face. The only time yoga is peaceful is during the meditation, and that’s because I’m pretty much asleep. As it turned out, my peaceful, fulfilled, happy moments were around campfires in the quiet, flying up the coast, and being in the zone when writing. (There are more, but I’m bored of this now.)

4. Write down whatever comes to you. I don’t do well with open-ended tasks, so I set a fifteen minute timer, which seemed like a perfectly reasonable amount of time in which to contemplate the vastness that is My Core Values. I randomly wrote things down as they came to me, as instructed. This is a surprisingly fun thing to do. I wrote about a page worth of random value-like-words, scribbled half of them out, and pared them down to eight or so. Those eight then had to vie to be one of the five survivors. SURVIVOR: CORE VALUES. Now with more bugs! And nail guns!

The winners are:

Security and Adaptability had a fight to the bitter end, but eventually I decided that I would only ever be secure if I was adaptable. So I feel like that’s a two-for-one’er. After this, I had to number them one through five. I don’t feel like coaxing my poor ol’ mac through another round of photo uploading (seriously. It’s a lot of work.) so here they are:

1. Freedom
2. Creativity
3. Competence
4. Integrity
5. Security

I don’t know if I feel like a better person for having done this. I certainly don’t feel worse. What I did realize is that I don’t spend a lot of time (or any, really) sitting and thinking about the way I live my life, and what kind of person I want to be. I mean, outside of therapy, where I am forced to do so and examine my choices. What I like about Day One is that it has made me revisit what’s important to me. I’m gonna stick the list to my refrigerator, or something else I love unconditionally (Get the dog!) so that I’ll remember to check it out if I’m having a bad day. Maybe it will turn out that I’m just feeling trapped, or I haven’t written anything in a long time, or I need to go out and fix something on the truck. (That’s a tricky one, as it only makes me feel competent if the truck still runs when I’m done.)

Bring on Day Two: Shine Your Shoes. There will be excellent musical accompaniment to that post; I can feel it.


10 thoughts on “Day 1: Defining my Core Values

  1. Hmm – I like this ideas, this 30 day thing you’re doing. I’m gonna opt out, but I’ll be waiting to see if you find there’s any grand ‘reveals’ during the process.

    I find, personally, that when I do things like this (aside from my program, which is more of a lifelong thing I have to do anyway) I expect there to be some vast life changing ending. And to make it worse, other people (the buggers) say they had these deep powerful experiences, which just don’t seem to happen to me. Then I think they’re full of it, and start judging, and then I have to look at what’s wrong with me and blah blah blah – it all goes to hell. So I generally avoid the whole process.

    It’s kinda like your yoga/meditation experience, which I can totally relate to.

    So, I will be happily watching from the sidelines. I like that you’re not being Holy about it – an admirable trait of yours, by the way.

    Good luck.

    ps – A picture of you in the chair, notepad and nail gun in hand, would make an awesome Christmas card.

    • Thanks!! I think there are a few of the ‘days’ that would apply to everyone; of course you don’t have to commit to the whole month worth of stuff but you can pick and choose as many as you like – or not.

      I’ll think about that picture!

  2. Reading this gave me my first morning smile. (and your brother is funny, too, eh) What joy it is for me to know that my daughter puts freedom first and security last, on her list of priorities. (Not to denigrate security, just to put it in its proper place in the list) I like your list as a whole, for what its worth, and I applaud doing this “30 day thing” just for the experience of doing it. I agree with Andrew about the Christmas card, although last time I checked, you didn’t send them … maybe a nice photo for your office? Looking forward to Day 2.

  3. /agree on the Christmas card! Or at the very least, it should go in your blog header. 😀

    This is pretty dang awesome! I also would not expect any huge reveals…I find that growth like this tends to sneak up and surprise me. It would kinda be cool if you could set a benchmark for yourself of “Gwen at Day Two”…kinda writing about how you are feeling about key things–no over-thinking or re-reading!–on a piece of paper. Put it in an envelope and mark that “Open the day after Day 30”. Then when you are done with your 30 day program, you can open the envelope and read your note from your past self and see if anything has shifted. 🙂

    Maybe that’s weird…but I did an exercise like this once when I was younger and it was startling how my perspective had changed. I just hadn’t noticed during the process, because I was too close to it.

    • That’s a great idea! I think that’s something I’ll do before starting big life-things . . . like leaving yourself a time capsule.

      Hmm. Three votes on the nail gun photo. Eeenteresting.

  4. You could shave it INTO the dog, so you don’t have to worry about the note getting chewed off.

    I might do this. I’m curious. I think I might have some values that oppose each other. hahaha!

    • Do it! There’s a thing in the article about conflicting values which isn’t *technically* actually helpful, but, um…here it is anyway.

      “Ideally, your core values compliment each other, but there might be times when two or more conflict. When that happens, which value will trump? If you know this before that choice presents itself, you’ll know how to proceed.”

      Also since some asshat (previous owner) thought it was a clever idea to tattoo my poor dog’s ear with the iron cross, I will spare her any further humiliation at the hands of foolish humans.

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