From Experiments to Values
This is my third year doing this Year of Change. I’m excited to face this new year with a resolution to do better and be better. However, this year I’m trying something quite different from what I’ve done in previous years. Over the past two years I’ve conducted a series of monthly experiments in habit change in order to see how different habits change me and how different types of habits are formed. These experiments have been an interesting and wonderful part of my life. I have learned countless lessons from the past two years and I’m grateful for all that knowledge and experience.
But I feel like something is missing. I feel like lately I’ve been chasing happiness and it has, of course, been eluding me. I’ve started using these experiments to try to force happiness into my life. As I spent a lot of time thinking about this and reading about happiness and habits, I think I’ve realized something.
Happiness isn’t something to be chased after or acquired by changing a couple of habits. Happiness comes, at least in part, down to aligning our actions with our values. While I think most of the habits I experimented with did align with my values, there were some that didn’t.
So this year I’m doing things differently. Getting back to my values is more important than results or end of month reviews. I hope that as I change my actions to align with my values I’ll find increased levels of happiness.
But that all sounds very abstract. It’s hard to make real life changes with abstract concepts, right? We need something concrete, something real and measurable.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to write “Align with values” on a sticky note and put it on my computer monitor and call it good. I’ve spent the last month coming up with a plan for the year so I can align my actions this year with one of my values.
This year, I’ve decided to focus on how much I value my personal health. Over the last two years I’ve tried a lot of health-related habits, from running my first 5k to waking up earlier to being a vegetarian for a month. But I was doing those things randomly and without purpose or knowing exactly why. Sure, I knew I wanted to “be healthier” and “feel better” or “get in shape”, but I didn’t recognize that I was trying to align my actions with my values.
During 2017 I am going to better align my actions with my value of personal health. That means I’ll be focusing on habits, life changes, actions, and beliefs that will bring my life more in line with my value of health.
Why do I value my personal health? This is a question I’ve asked myself a lot over the past two months. At first it was the obvious answers that I stated above. But the more I thought and wrote about it, I realized that it goes deeper than that. Here are a few things I’ve come up with:
- I want energy to do things I enjoy for the rest of my life.
- I want to have energy to spend time with my wife and (future) kids.
- I love nature and want to spend more time doing things outside.
- I love my wife and (future) kids and want to be able to give them my best self.
- I hate feeling like crap in the morning and whenever I exercise. I want to change that.
- I value having a body that feels and functions properly.
There’s a lot more to it, but that’s just a sample of my reasons behind why I value my personal health.
Well, there you have it. That’s my plan for my 2017 Year of Change. I’m still working out the finer details of what I’ll be doing to align my actions, but basically my actions will be a combination of strengthening my muscles and endurance, eating healthier, improving my sleep and spending more time outside. More details to come in a later post.
I hope to make this a year of aligning with my values and I hope I can do this for many years to come (and probably for the rest of my life). If you’re tired of chasing happiness, join me in aligning your actions with your values this year.
Also published on Medium.