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Beliefs Beyond Faith: Values-Based Decision-Making

Well, it's almost Christmas.

And Christmas always makes me think about my faith.

And thinking about faith makes me think about what I believe in because beliefs are really important.

I don't know if you spend much time thinking about what you believe in, but if you're like most people, you probably don't, which is fine. But if you are working to create a deeply meaningful and fulfilling live then they are foundational. You know, Freud was one of the first psychologists to talk about why people need religion in order to help them to live fulfilling lives. It gives meaning and purpose. The other thing that religion does that a lot of people don't think about is that it provides you with a rulebook on how to live which, hey, takes the guesswork out of things.

Now you know what to do? Right? Because you're told what to do.

But if you are like me, and you don't necessarily subscribe to any particular religious belief system, that can make it a little bit more challenging, And so that's what we're going to look at today. We're going to look at some ways that you can make decisions when you don't have a spiritual or religious belief system that you're following for making those decisions on. So let's go ahead and take a look at this.

The first thing that you need to do is to create a values and priority list. Values are really important. We don't think about them very much and they're different person to person but once you clarify the values that you have, that you hold as an individual, it suddenly makes things much simpler. Why is that? Because you've decided before you get into a difficult situation what things that are important to you. Values are generally characteristics or principles that matter to you. They are the guiding principles you use to engage with anything. What kind of job you want, the people you hang out with, what you do with your free time...all of this and much more can be clarified with personal values.

I have six personal values; being intentional, being healthy, being eager, connecting, growing, and integrity. These six words are what I use to measure how I decide to engage in a situation. And the priorities of these things also matter. So priorities are equally important. What's the most important to you and why does it matter so much? The why is probably a value and while you aren't justify anything to yourself, this is just about giving yourself guideposts so you have some clarity about your life.

The pushback on this is if you don't create these in an effective and healthy way, then you're not going to be helping yourself but hurting yourself by making poor choices. So do the work on this. It's important and it'll you'll be amazed at how many situations show up in your life where you have to make a decision on what to do or how to engage and your values kind of tell you what to do. Even if it's uncomfortable or you're not looking forward to it. At least you know what's going to provide you the biggest benefit and fulfillment long term. Not following your values typically leads to resentment and anger, anxiety overwhelm all of those other nasty things that nobody wants any more of in their life. This is also what happens if you don't know what your values are and your making decision willy-nilly.

Other ways you can make decisions; obviously going to trusted friends, family or mentors that you might have. They can provide some really good perspective when you need to make decisions. A word of caution here though, utilize feedback that brings you clarity on your own decision. Don't run off and ask someone what you should do. Approach this person, that you have tremendous respect for, and ask them what they see in a situation. What's their take on it? What are you missing? Share your perspective and have them play devil's advocate. The goal isn't for them to make a decision, the goal is for you to get more clarity so you are in alignment with your values when YOU make a decision.

I recommend that you designate a few people to hold space for you in different areas of your life. Perhaps you have a business mentor that you talk to about your career or professional development. Maybe your mother's amazing and you really go to her for parenting advice because you think she was just an incredible Mom. Maybe you have a therapist or a coach that you go to to ask for relationship advice. The point is, don't make this group real big and make sure these are people whose opinion you both value and respect. These need to be individuals who will help you see where you might be missing something because of a blind spot. Make sure they aren't dictating to you and will hold you accountable or call you out on your bullshit when it's happening. These are very rare people. Very, very rare. But having a small group of individuals that you respect admire and work to emulate, can be really helpful when you find yourself in a challenging or difficult situation.

A few other ideas:

  1. consider long term impact of anything you need to make a decision on

  2. trust your intuition, it's guiding you

  3. create a pros/cons list or a cost/benefits list

  4. reflect on past situations that were similar

These are all amazing ways to help you get clarity when you need to make a decision in your life. You hopefully noticed one thing...even with these other options you still need to know what important to you (values) and how important it is (priorities). In short, you aren't going to make a decision at all without this.

People typically get in trouble when they don't take the time to figure out what their values are. When you don't do that you are slipping into beliefs you were "told" were true and important and worse, you don't realize it.

In short, your on autopilot. This is what it means to be asleep at the wheel. Your brain has phenomenal cosmic power but you aren't utilizing it. You are keeping it trapped in little bitty living space.

To take full advantage of your ability you need to think through this and consider what your personal values are. Only then will you feel confident with making decision that you won't later feel resentment, anxiety or any number of other unpleasant emotions over.

I hope you are seeing a pattern. These values are you first step in making deliberate decisions for your life. Those decisions are how you start to feel better about your life. This is what you have control over. You don't always have control over what decisions you have to make, but you do have control over what those decisions are.

And that is a shit ton of power y'all. Don't let it slip pass you.

Take the time, do the work. You'll be glad you did.

Until next time - have an amazing holiday no matter what it is.


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