Do your actions align with your values?

Frank rack position

More than three years ago, I was dragging the floor mats out of the little 900 square foot warehouse that was home to our first gym in Sebastopol. All the other equipment had just been moved out by a handful of volunteers (members that are still with us, you know who you are!), loaded onto trucks and on its way to the new location on Cleveland in Santa Rosa. The phone, which was still hooked up, rang. I answered it. On the other end was a guy named Frank who said he had heard about our style of training and wanted to get signed up. He had survived some serious injuries (hit by a car) and wanted to regain his fitness.

I said, that’s great, but we’re moving to Santa Rosa, right this moment! He said, that’s cool, I’m fine with that, I can wait a week or two. I wrote down his name and number on a random piece of paper I found (there was literally nothing left in the warehouse but the mats and pull up rig), told him I’d call back in a few days, and shoved the paper in my pocket.

Fast forward a a couple weeks. The gym has been moved into the Quonset Hut and we’ve got classes running in very sparse conditions. (Raise your hand if you remember CrossFit One Wall?) I’m sitting at this little file cabinet in the middle of the room that served as my desk, and I remember the phone call I got from that prospective member, Frank. I look for the scrap of paper with his number. It was lost. Lost opportunity, totally my fault.

And yet, a few days later, I get a call from Frank, at our new phone number. He wasn’t fazed a bit by the fact that I hadn’t kept my word and returned his phone call. He had looked us up, found our new number, and kept on his course. He wanted to get signed up.

Three years later, Frank still comes three days a week to train.

This is an example of a person who has aligned his actions with his values. He said that he valued his health and wanted to get fit; and he spends the time, money, and energy on that thing he says he cares about. Alignment.

How often do you talk to someone that says s/he “should” workout more, eat better, meditate, go to bed earlier, read more, whatever it might be? Do you say that? If so, it implies a misalignment between your actions and what you claim are your values. If you really value something then it will be reflected in how you spend your time/energy/money and what you do with your life. If it doesn’t, then you’ve got some changes to make. If you have excuses (not enough time, money, etc.) then perhaps you need to acknowledge to yourself that this really isn’t something you value as you much as you think. Or, you can see the misalignment and choose to make changes to how you live your life.

Here’s a little exercise for you to see where your values and actions are in alignment and where they’re not.

Part I: Get a piece of paper and write your answers, in list form, to each of the questions below.

[box style=”rounded” border=”full”]What do you most often talk about to others? What do you most often talk to yourself about? Who is someone you really admire, and what are his/her top three qualities? What are the three most important values you want to pass on to your children? If you were to teach a graduating high-school class values that would give them the best opportunity for success in life, what would those be and why? What are the qualities of your “ideal” man or woman?[/box]

Now look through your list. Patterns? Repeated words? Consolidate your answers into some some broad categories, and then rank them in order of importance to you.

Here are some ideas for labeling those broad categories: Beauty, Competition, Achievement, Adventure, Assertiveness, Belonging, Bravery, Brilliance, Caring, Challenge Cleanliness, Love, Loyalty,Comfort, Community, Courage, Devotion, Faith, Discipline, Discovery, Duty, Education,  Elegance, Endurance,  Enjoyment, Equality, Justice, Peace, Excitement, Mastery, Fame, Family, Forgiveness, Freedom, Fun, Generosity, Gratitude, Growth, Happiness, Harmony, Work, Health, Heroism, Honesty, Honor, Humility, Humor, Imagination, Creativity, Independence, Influence, Ingenuity, Inner Peace, Innovation, Inspiration, Integrity, Intelligence, Knowledge, Intimacy, Intuitiveness, Leadership, Learning, Modesty, Money, Order, Organization, Cleanliness, Originality, Passion, Perseverance, Persistence, Personal Growth, Pleasure, Power, Practicality, Precision, Preparedness, Privacy, Prosperity, Punctuality, Quality, Quiet, Recognition, Relationships, Reliability, Religion, Resourcefulness, Respect, Responsibility, Risk-taking, Romance, Safety, Self-esteem, Service, Sincerity, Simplicity, Skill, Spirituality, Stability, Strength, Style, Teamwork, Tradition, Tranquility, Trust, Truth, Unity, Variety, Wisdom.

You don’t need to use these words, they’re just here for ideas. Choose your own words that express what you see in your list.

Part II: Take your paper and write your answers, in list form, to the each of the questions below.

[box style=”rounded” border=”full”]When you look around your home, what do you see? What are the things you do in a typical day? How do you spend your mornings, afternoons, and evenings? On the weekends? On what activities or thoughts do you spend most of your energy in a typical day? What activities or thoughts provide you energy? How do you spend your money? What are you always willing to spend money on? Where does most of your money go? Where do you have the most order and organization in your life? What do you spend a lot of time thinking about? What do you like to talk to people about? What have you achieved in your life that you’re most proud of?[/box]

Look through your list. Patterns? Repeated words? Consolidate your answers into some some broad categories.

Now, do Part I and Part II match? Are your stated values and your actions aligned, or is there some work for you to do? For example, you might say one of your top values is relationships, but then see that you spend far more time reading books than you do with the people in your life. Notice the misalignment and reflect on it – you could shift your understanding of your own values to acknowledge that learning or leisure (or whatever value your reading has for you) is actually more important than your relationships; or, you could decide that your relationships really are more important and therefore start to plan your time/money/resources accordingly so that you’re investing more into your relationships. This is just one hypothetical example, but this makes sense, right?

If you hear yourself saying you “should” spend more time doing x and y, what are you actually spending your time doing, and do those things accurately reflect your values?

Just some stuff to think about…