- Know what your values are. You say you know what you value. But when was the last time you actually carefully and thoughtfully considered this? Make sure you really do know what you value and believe in. A good question to start with is: what matters most to me in life? The answer might not be as obvious as you think.
- Remove distractions. To act in alignment with you values, you must be focused. Set limits and restrictions on your own media and entertainment consumption. Throw away your television. Most media is designed specifically to take away our focus, which is possibly our most precious resource. Consume too much entertainment, and you are guaranteed to live a life that does not match with your values. Consider what other habits, information, and people pull you away from what is truly important. Then slowly get those things out of your life.
- Hang out with people who have same or similar values. This is important because spending time with people who have similar values will hold us accountable and give us a persistent sense of responsibility. It can also help us clarify what we value when we can vet and flesh out our ideas through conversation.
- Read and write. Books present us with fresh perspectives and alternate ways of looking at things. Writing helps us clarify our own logic and thought processes. Reading and writing will keep your mind sharp. That way, when you are presented with new information, or reach a fork in the road, you can effectively “fact-check” and make the best possible decision.
- Eat healthy and exercise. Much like #4 above, eating healthy and exercise are essential for mental sharpness, and therefore, good decision-making. Personally, I also find these behaviors are a conduit to discovering what I value in life. The skill of carefully choosing what I put in my body translates surprisingly directly into all other areas of my life. Meanwhile, exercise kicks the problem-solving area of my brain into high gear, helping me to distinguish what is actually important within both challenging situations and life more broadly.
- Participate. Vote, speak up, attend meet-ups and seminars, etc. This is more than just hanging around like-minded people. It’s part of the actual “do-ing” that ensures you are acting out your values. Let’s say one of your values is creating art. Than take your art to the local fair. Give a speech about the importance of art at an open forum. Vote in local elections that support community center funding, at which art classes are given and public displays are organized. Support art stores by actually going and spending your money there. This might seem obvious…and that’s because it is. But many of us need the reminder and extra push anyway.
- Stay awake and aware. As soon as you become aware that your actions have fallen out of alignment with your values, do whatever it takes to get back on track. You can only realize that you’ve gotten off track by staying awake and aware. Let’s say you value kindness. But when you think about it, you can’t remember the last time you did something nice without expecting anything in return. Remedy that situation immediately by deciding what you’re going to do – then do it!
When it comes to living in alignment with your values, think of the Nike slogan...just do it!!