Living Your Values
It can be pretty easy to get dragged along in life. You blink and suddenly another month has gone by. You suddenly realize you’ve watched way more TV than you intended. Or bought way more at Starbucks than you had to spend. You make promises to yourself to do better, but another month goes by and the story is the same. You are a boat without a rudder. You sail in whatever direction is automatic – in my case, towards Hulu and sugar free iced café beverages.
Everyone wants to be the captain of their own ship. We want our lives to head in a direction of our choosing. The trick is in knowing where you want to go and that is where “values” come in. If you know what you value, you have a much better chance of knowing what choices in life align with what you say is important to you.
There is an exercise that I’ve done throughout the years that has helped me take the rudder on my own ship. First, I make a list of the top 10 things I spend the most money on. This was challenging when I didn’t know where the money went! So maybe the first step was tracking my money. Second, I make a list of the top 10 things I spend the most time on. I actually track my time for a couple of weeks. It’s been easy to convince myself that I REALLY don’t play that many stupid-phone-games but numbers don’t lie. Third, I make a list of the top 10 things I value in life. This alone can be challenging so I generally sit with it until the list feels right. Good thing there are lots of places on the web to help me! Lastly, I start eliminating. I cross off values that I spend time on and I cross off values that I spend money on. It’s not always obvious – “extra mortgage payments = security” in my world. It’s a judgement call but I do the best I can with all three lists. I am left with three things: Items I spend money on that I don’t value, items that I spend time on that I don’t value, and items I value that I don’t spend time or money on.
It was this exercise that helped me to come to the decisions to become a generous donor at UUCE. Connection, Courage, Generosity, Learning, Helping, Fun and Authenticity were some of the things I said I valued in my life. I find that I am encouraged to grow in all these areas when I participate in church life! It has transformed the monthly writing of my UUCE check from just-another-bill-to pay into something I do to support my journey in life. It’s both freeing and empowering! I encourage you to take a look at your own life in this way. And if the church supports what you say you’re up to, won’t you consider joining me in becoming a generous donor?