Living life in accordance with values.
As you know this blog is roughly organised around related but separate themes of mind, body and bank balance. My main conundrum has been in my attitude towards work and I’ve made a positive breakthrough.
Regular readers will note that there’s a bit of a pattern to my attitudes towards work and finances. I’ve wrestled with thoughts of being a bit bored at work and basically not finding my chosen profession as fulfilling as I once did. I’ve turned a bit of a corner on this matter, and want to talk to you about how I did that.
I’ve been looking lately into the concept of – and the importance of – values. We in industrialised, corporate cultures seem to be obsessed with goals. Interview processes and line managers ask us where we want to be in 5 years. They like ambition and punish ‘wishy washy’ career plans. If we don’t have a career plan we’re judged to be lacking drive. basically we’re brainwashed into the importance of goal setting. Goals are fine, but sometime they are not as useful and instructive as values. The value of values is that they can never be achieved; a goal is temporary and binary. We’ve either achieved it or we haven’t. Values are there to be lived every day. They guide our actions and help us navigate difficult and ambiguous situations. Once we know what our values are we use them as our North Star to guide action. Fancy a slice of cake? maybe you do, but what if the value of living a healthy life and showing the advantage of healthful choices to your impressionable kids is a core value of yours? No cake for your then! What if it’s raining outside and the sofa’s looking a bit more comfy than your running shoes, but you’re holding a value that you want to be energised and energetic. The value of wanting to be energised and energetic helps you get the trainers on and out you go. I’m nit sure if the goal of running a 5k in 19 minutes will have quite the pull, especially if today we’re a fair way from that.
I had a good think about values and boiled mine down to some core principles that are important to me. Living a life in accordance to my values means making decisions that take me towards Fun, Freedom and Family. Now that I’ve clarified that I’m able to use these to guide my actions and my attitude. I’ve seen an uplift in my enjoyment ad performance as I’ve linked small daily decisions to the degree to which they are moving me towards these important values.
I’ve also found that I’v been working with people who’s blocker is confidence. Confidence is a great canvas on which to think about the value of values.
Not feeling confident enough to apply for that job? This is where it gets interesting. The mistake most of us make is to wait unto we feel confident enough to be the person we want to be and do the things we want to do. What if in recognition of what’s important to us, we started to move towards these things, despite any discomfort they may bring. What if we worked out for ourselves that applying for the job, going for the interview, making the presentation was an act that helped us move towards the life we want to lead that we were willing to put up with the discomfort that it entailed? People who move towards values don’t wait until they are confident enough to do so, they recognise that it’s worth it to do the difficult stuff – in the service of their values.
I am sure there are things you’d do if you were confident. Don’t wait until you’re confident enough – find a reason to do the act that is more powerful than the uncomfortable feelings and thoughts it evokes.
So anyway – for me – I’ve hooked into some core value that have helped engage with work a bit more consistently and positively. Consequently I’m enjoying it more, doing better and less susceptible to the sense that I could do better. This is rather a virtuous circle, no?
The markets are wibbling and wobbling at the moment and as a result I’m not checking the balance quite so much! I remain steadfast in my attitude that I really don’t need to panic in response to these dips. As discussed, I’m grateful for all the reading I’ve done and accept some ups and downs in my portfolio value in the short term. I accept them and select the behaviour of doing nothing because my rational brain tells me that in the long term I’m better off in the markets than dipping in and out at the first sign of bulls and bears. This level of volatility and seeming impending drop in values will be my first as a holder of any kind of significant portfolio so I am untested, but I do feel like I know what to do.
I’m reminded of one of my favourite investment-related mantras – “Don’t just do something, stand there”
Time will tell how effectively I live it.
That’s the investing side (not much activity), and on the earning side I’ve had a good autumn. I’ve been well employed and had a full diary of work. That means I’ve billed good money and am moving towards having a good chunk of money saved so that a) I can relax into the knowledge that I’m not in a hand to mouth financial situation. b) use surplus to invest or pay down debt.
The ‘offence’ element of income vs expenditure therefore continues to be pleasing, and our family ‘defence’ (managing expenditure) is consistently decent. We very rarely eat out, don’t have coffee, shoe and handbag addictions, and tend not to give a fuck what the Jones family think of us.
The dial hasn’t moved much, but i’ll be locked and loaded ready to hoover up any assets that start to look cheap in the event of market downturns.
I’m running and exercising on a regular basis. Happy with my diet regime. The onset of christmas has coincided with a few more party invites and trips to the boozer. I was going to set an annual mileage goal, but that’s not floating my boat (see earlier lecture on value vs goals). What I do want to do is be a healthy dad who the kids can be proud of an d who looks ok in the mirror. This is my guiding light when it comes to my refuelling strategy. I fully intend to enjoy christmas this year, have fun at a lot of parties, but not at the expense of my health and fitness.
In summary: I’ve been a bad blogger and failed to provide regular updates. I am convinced of the value of these notes and will continue to write them. I hope you have an enjoyable winter and don’t forget to ignore black friday (unless you have a well thought through, key purchase in mind!)