Day 19 - Figuring out where to spend your energy on next (i.e. "value work")

Value Work - instead of Classic New Year's Resolutions

These days we often reflect on our values or 'things that are important to us'. Oftentimes we also have some resolutions for the New Year.

I ditched having New Year Resolutions already a while ago. They never worked the way I intended them to work nor did they deliver THAT value I was hoping for.

Looking back:

  • my expectations were too high,

  • I set too many resolutions at once

  • and often the steps to achive were too big.

A perfect receipe for setting oneself up for disappointment. A perfect receipe for sabotaging ones own "performance" from the very beginning. :-(

My "secret" receipe today

What works instead for me is: continuous reflection.

  1. Figuring out which areas need my attention next.

  2. Then defining small, actionable steps.

In other words: spending my energy in a deliberate way.

Small, actionable steps.
Nice, but: how to get there...?

There are five steps how I usually aproach these "next deliberate steps". I describe them in detail below finalizing with a document I created for this. So if you prefer having a (visual) overview first: jump down to Examples.

Step 0: Get ready

  • take a sheet of paper and a pen

  • put it in landscape mode --> there will be five columns on the paper

  • reserve 15 to 30min of your time
    (with 15min you can get a very first valuable step - or as an experienced practitioner you can completely re-visit this exercise)

Step 1: List what (currently) matters to YOU

  • fill the 1st column (A): list 5 to 10 values / needs / "things" that appear important to you

  • you might want to get inspired by the resources listed below ([2a, 2b] or [3])

Colum A:
What matters

Column B:
....

Column C:
...

Column D:
...

Column E:
...

Step 2: Rate the current IMPORTANCE

  • fill the 2nd column (B) with a rating on How important is this to you? referring to Column A

  • scale is from 1 to 8 (where 1 is "pretty unimportant" and 8 "the most important I can imagine")

Colum A:
What matters

Column B:
Current Importance

Column C:
...

Column D:
...

Column E:
...

Step 3: Rate your current ATTENTION

  • fill the 3rd column (C) with a rating on How much attention / effort do you currently spend? (again referring to Column A)

  • scale is from 1 to 8 (where 1 is "none at all" and 8 "working on it all the time")

Colum A:
What matters

Column B:
Current Importance

Column C:
Your Attention/Effort

Column D:
...

Column E:
...

Step 4: Calculate the hints for next steps

  • fill the 4th column with the calculation of How big is the discrepancy? between your intention (B) and the current reality (C)

Colum A:
What matters

Column B:
Current Importance

Column C:
Your Attention/Effort

Column D:
Hints for next steps (=Discrepancy between your Intention and the current Now)

Column E:
...

Step 5: Come up with small (and actionable) next steps for YOU

  • Take the 2-3 items with the biggest values from column D

  • Come up with ONE small (and actionable) next step for each of those items.
    Prefer little "extremely small" actionable steps - as this will provide your with energy for next steps. You start your self-efficacy engine and keep fueling it yourself. :-)

Colum A:
What matters

Column B:
Current Importance

Column C:
Your Attention/Effort

Column D:
Hints for next steps

Column E:
One small (and actionable) next step for me is...

Example

Here's an example for that list so that you can get an impression how those "small and ACTIONABLE" steps could look like.

In that example the first column (A) has been filled with values inspired by [1].

Two final tipps

  1. Make a fixed appointment with yourself. A date and time where you check your progress on the small & actionable steps. Where you inspect & adjust.
    Make that appointment with yourself NOW. ;-)

  2. Make your small & actionable steps VISIBLE. A good place is where you see them at least daily. That could e.g. be a post-it note in your home - or a bookmark in your journal (if you're already into that).

Further Resources

[1] Schwartz Theory of Basic Values: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/271231569_An_Overview_of_the_Schwartz_Theory_of_Basic_Values

[2a] Work on Values by Deb Hartmann-Preuss: https://abiggergame.today/corevalues/ and https://abiggergame.today/values-shift/

[2b] List of Values in English (https://scottjeffrey.com/core-values-list/) and a list of values in German (https://einguterplan.de/werte/)

[3] Feelings & Needs Overview by agile-living.com: Dropbox-Link (EN) and Dropbox-Link (DE)