The year 2013 has dawned upon us. As usual, everyone is excited about the prospects of the new year, and everyone is busy making new year resolutions and plans. This is all wonderful. This displays hope and enthusiasm. We need these traits. But they’re not all we need though. We need to figure out this mystery which happens each year. Each year, shortly after 1 January, most people go back to the same old habits, and forget all about the new year resolutions and the accompanied enthusiasm and determination.
To try to resolve this mystery, I think we need to look inside of ourselves. Who are we, really? Who am I? What are my values? What do I want out of life?
Before we can answer any of those questions, we need to separate fantasies from reality. Fantasies are things we say we want, or things which we think we want, but things which we don’t really want – not at the deep core level. For example: if I say I want to get in shape and have the trimmest body, but I haven’t exercised more than 5 minutes in the last 10 years, and I eat all and any junk food I can, then getting in shape is a mere fantasy. And as they say, fantasies lead to miseries!
We need to assess ourselves critically. What are our values? I’m not talking about religious values and ethics. I’m talking about personal values. What is important to me. I’ll give you an example of two of my personal values:
My highest value is knowledge, other values stem therefrom. I love learning, and I love reading. I attend seminars, workshops, and conferences all the time because I know I always learn something. I have a special notebook for taking notes (notes on bits of paper are useless for the long term), and have gone through quite a number of these notebooks over the past few years. [Sidenote: I only use notebooks when I'm out at events. When I'm reading a book I'll make notes on my iPhone or iPad. This works for me.] On my desk at this moment I have stacks of books all around me, at the back of my office I have my bookcase, in the car I have books, next to my bed I have books, and other stacks in my bedroom. After having several meetings with me, someone asked me how I remembered the names of same many books and authors. Remembering names and titles is easy because the value is high. I don’t remember movie stars, and other details which are not a high value for me.
Attached to knowledge, for me, is the value of sharing. I have been writing (newsletters, blogs, etc) and teaching (lectures, classes, etc) for many years. I love imparting knowledge which I have acquired. When I read, I always pause to check my understanding, and to evaluate how I would share the information with others. After doing this for years, I picked up an advice from Dr Stephen R Covey, where he advises to do just that. He said that when reading, you should read as a teacher, assessing how you would impart the same knowledge to others. There are many iPad apps which I use to aggregate content. I use a mixture of them. One app which I really find informative is Alltop. Yet I don’t use it. The reason is that Alltop doesn’t have a “share” function. I find this very frustrating. When I find something useful in an app, I want to easily share it via Social Media, or email it to a friend. I actually spoke to the famous author Guy Kawasaki about this, as he owns Alltop, and he jokingly said to me I have to get an Android device, because that version has a “share” feature. No way that’s going to happen, Guy!
When we are setting goals, or dreamling as Tim Ferris calls it, we should make sure that our goals tie into our personal values. When we do that, our goals become realistic, and not fantasies. When our goals are realistic, they are prone to be achieved. When we achieve our goals, we can make a difference in the world.
My firm belief is that the world needs us – you and I – to be true to ourselves. We have all been blessed with very unique values, and they are ours for a reason. Our destiny lies in the focus of our own personal values.
We shouldn’t try to set goals which will impress others. We’ll fail at those. We should set goals that resonate with our most authentic values. This is true for individuals as well as companies.
I would like to share with you a video by Simon Sinek where he talks about a similar concept, but he talks about why, and about beliefs, and doesn’t use the word values. The message, however, is closely linked. His talk is titled “Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Action” and you can view it at this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4ZoJKF_VuA.