Friday, August 26, 2016

Using values as a chic tool to shape your life

When I first started becoming more intentional about the life I wanted to lead, I realised it involved lots of questions.  Many, many questions, otherwise how would I know?  One of the very first was:

What do I value?

When I’d wake up on yet another work day and drag myself out of my cosy bed to have a shower, eat breakfast and then run for the bus to work, I’d think how nice it would be if life were different.  If I didn’t have to get up with an alarm clock five days a week.  If time was my own.  I still think about that actually, how nice it would be not to have to leave the house at a certain time each day, but the difference is I look forward to my days now (and I’m working towards not having to go to an external workplace within the next six months).  A key reason I’m really happy with my life is that I’ve intentionally worked on shaping my days to be full of ease and beauty.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t situations; of course, even someone with the most perfect life in the world would still have stuff to deal with most days that they wish would just go away (for me:  filing paperwork, keeping up with boring admin, doing my tax stuff, getting into a good daily routine sometimes, having days when I do not have a handle on my food).

But for the most part I can honestly say that I enjoy (almost) every moment of my life.  And it all started out working out what I value; it was how I decided what belongs in my life and what doesn’t.

One day I sat down and wrote out everything I value and figured out exactly what belongs in my ideal life.  I came up with a list by asking myself 'what do I value in life?'


Having this list is soothing to read through because it focuses my mind on what matters most to me.  If I had to narrow it down more so that I could keep a handful of values top of mind, I’d probably choose a top three from this list.  I started out with one long list of values but then saw that many went together such as Partnership, Family, Pets - they are all relationships that I value.  So I can narrow down the list by grouping like things together.

Simplicity is number one: if I had to choose a single value to live by it would be simplicity.  Health is up there too.  It's amazing how easy it is to eat differently when your health is at risk.  And it is obvious to me now because Health is a value for me.  As much as I like being slimmer, I don't see 'Being Skinny' on my list so it wasn't as much of a motivator as Health obviously is.

Using this list of values as a springboard is a really useful and fun way of reminding yourself what’s important to you.  Have you ever thought about your values?  If you had to pick one or two off the top of your head, what would they be?  I’d love to hear.


  1. Partnership and Family every time - the love of my husband, and the love I give him, and for our two sons and their partners. All the rest of your list are desirable commodities, not essential but very desirable - I would also add 'Perspective' so that small irritations don't grow in our mind out of all proportion to their worth.
    Margaret P
    Margaret P

  2. I'm going to work on my values list tonight, although I expect it will look much like yours as there isn't one thing on there that I would take off really. I think my highest priority would be family (including husband, kids and pets), followed by creativity and simplicity. Family relations are so important for me to feel connected and supported, but I find sometimes creativity doesn't always coexist with simplicity and other times they are synergistic. I strive for a balance between them. Sometimes I want to create a lavish spread for dinner and other times a frittata is about all I can manage and it's a lovely simple the same time, keeping most things simple allows more time for creativity.

    1. You're speaking my language, Cindy. I'm the same with dinners - sometimes it's fancy, mostly it's simple.

  3. I think the ability to focus is number one for me. Balance and moderation and keeping my life small and manageable for me, not being concerned with how much others accomplish.

    1. Focus is a big one for me too. In fact I love everything you've said :)

  4. Hi Fiona, Your list mirrors what mine would be. I wonder, did you start to focus more on what you value in life when you were diagnosed with melanoma? In April, I had to have a cervical conization (to remove pre-cancerous cells) and three days ago I had a lumpectomy (also to remove pre-cancerous cells) and believe me, it has made me think even more what is important to me. It really comes down to three things: health, family and friends. All the other things you've listed add a lot to a well-lived life too.


    1. Hi D, I'm so glad you were able to catch those things early, and yes, when you are faced with your own mortality, it sharpens your focus in an absolute instant.

      For me, it wasn't so much with the melanoma, I just thought 'wow' when they told me; the doctor removed it and I carried on (was quite happy with the all clear though, understatement) but overall it didn't worry me that much and still doesn't. At the time I didn't know that melanoma was so much worse than other skin cancers which was probably a blessing and stopped me stressing.

      It was more my unexpected celiac diagnosis from a routine blood test; it made me realise that there are further consequences with what you eat than just whether you put on weight on not. It confirmed that what I put into my mouth and assimilate into my body is really important. Before that, if it tasted good and didn't make me put on too much weight, I'd eat it. Or even if something did make me put on weight, I'd accept that and carry on. But seeing my insides on the gastroscopy tv screen made me see that my lovely clean looking insides had to cope with whatever I decided I fancied that day, nutritious or not.

      I want to have a happy and healthy long life, and enjoy myself the whole time, so eating more fresh produce and less processed goods is how that is going to happen (among other things). I've worked out ways to crave the good food rather than the other stuff. I'm a work in progress but I'm winning!

  5. family, friends.....& being true to oneself, as an inner thing. Not doing anything that makes me feel disquietened, for example.

  6. I wrote my list out a while back, here is what I have on it (and I refer to it daily, and then when asking what I really want, I look at my list and if it matches up to the list, then yes!).

    My values:

    - simple luxury
    - quiet discretion
    - whitespace
    - elegance
    - simplicity
    - neutral and natural (clothing, furnishings, decor, crockery etc)
    - calm
    - quiet
    - quality
    - fresh
    - adventure
    - culture
    - refined
    - composed
    - romance
    - discreet
    - financial stability
    - family
    - feminine

    The list goes on!

    Brilliant post Fiona- thank you :)

    1. Oooh, I love your list so much! I would never have thought of the word 'fresh', but it really appeals as part of a guiding list.

  7. I think my top two values would be balance and simplicity. I know that I get overwhelmed and stressed easily, so simplifying my life in different aspects helps me relax. I remind myself that I can tailor my life to suit me, instead of having to feel in competition or comparison with others. That really helps me stay balanced and happy in my own life.

    1. I need to remind myself of the same things, Anna, and it definitely helps with comparison to others.

  8. Family, balance, simplicity are topping my list. Thanks for the fun exercise. I'm going to work on mine a bit more. Great idea!

  9. Serenity would top my list. Keeping drama at bay makes my life so much happier. I actually came to the conclusion that people who created unwanted drama in my life were destroying my peace. And I had to walk away from them. Now, seeking serenity is a daily gift. My list would also include orderliness (if that is even a word), productivity and grace.

    1. I couldn't agree more, Kristien. I can't handle drama either. It's such a waste of energy! Love your other values too.

    2. Kristien, you made me smile! The two words at the top of my list are "serenity" and "order"! I, too, no longer tolerate drama -- either my own or anyone else's. And like you, I've had to step well back from a couple of people because of it. Once I started to see how they created uproar & drama to avoid dealing with their problems(& tried make me part of it!), I just decided "not my circus, not my monkey", & have let them go.

      And "orderliness" is a perfectly great word! I've
      learned that creating simplicity & order in my life -- keeping things uncomplicated, tidy & everything running smoothly -- makes me stress-free & happy.

      And thank you, Fiona, for this wonderful post & project: I've been fiddling with my list for a few days now & it's magical how first identifying one's values, then ways to incorporate them more fully into every day life, really opens things up.

    3. My pleasure, Susanne, I'm glad it is working well for you.

  10. Replies
    1. I'm with you, Patricia, in finding solitude a necessity.

  11. I am really enjoying this list. I think more people are trying to find out what's important in their lives. There is so much going on around us that simplicity is everything. Thank you Fiona!

    1. Thank you Mrs Shockley, I agree, we're all trying to work it out. And simplicity yes, such an alluring concept that we're often drawn to :)


Merci for your comment. Wishing you a chic day!

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