Get Clear On Your Values

I am not a minimalist. I feel like I give away enough stuff every year that I should be one. It’s amazing how I can give away bags and bags of clothes, shoes, and kitchen gadgets, yet I have more and more to give away every season.

I’m a recovering sale addict. Growing up in my house, our motto was, “But, it’s on sale! I have to buy it”.

I didn’t even look at full price clothes or items, but I bought things I didn’t need or even wear because they were on sale. I still have to talk myself out of a sale these days, but I’m better.

Recently, I took a workshop with E and Roe from @brownkids called "Abundance Through Minimalism" at Bodhi Spiritual Center. The workshop was eye opening in that, the discussion was not about getting rid of your stuff or not spending any money. It was about your values, and how to create a life that aligns with your values.

One of E and Roe’s top values is freedom. I can relate (It’s why I’ve only had one full-time job my whole life, and I hated every second of it being stuck behind a desk. It lasted a year, and I vowed “never again!”).

A former shopaholic, Roe, says when she’s buying something, she now asks herself, “Do I want this or freedom?” And sometimes she asks, “Would I pay three times as much for this?”

Being clear on your values, allows you to be in alignment in your bank account, your calendar and your way of being.

“Don’t buy it ‘cause it’s cheap. Don’t take it ‘cause it’s free.” ~Roe

Boy, do I need that mantra!

Top Five Values

In our workshop, we wrote down our top ten values on post-it notes. Then, we got rid of three post-it notes to get closer to our top values, then pared it down one more time to five top values.

My top five were Freedom, Love, Contribution, Adventure, and Creativity. I’ve done values work before, so these were not hard for me to come up with in the short time allotted. I also realized that my life is set up purposefully to align with my values.

Freedom: I am my own boss, I make my own schedule (for the most part...producers tell me where to be and when for gigs, but that’s a given.)

Love: I live close to family, live in spitting distance to most of my best friends, and spend much of my free time with people I love. I try (#notperfect) to treat everyone I meet with love and respect. If not, I’m probably hangry.

Contribution: Through my coaching business, donations to charity and organizations I care about, helping out friends/family in need, I know that I am contributing to others on a daily basis.

Adventure: My husband and I love to travel, and we make it a priority every year. We have travel buddies who are adventurous with us. Last year we went to Japan and South Africa within two months of each other (with a layover in England!)

Creativity: My acting career and coaching business allow me to be creative. If I’m not working, I like to take classes which allow me to grow and be creative at the same time (growth is one of those values that didn’t make the cut, but is so important to me).

As I look at my calendar, @brownkids recommended that I look at each item on my to-do list and ask myself who I want to be during that appointment. Which value am I fulfilling with each action?

  • When I’m coaching, I can be love and contribution.
  • When I’m working out, I can be (self) love and freedom.
  • When I’m on set, I can be creative and adventurous.
  • When I’m teaching, I can be love and creativity.

You can do the same thing when you’re looking at your spending.

We live in a small apartment and pay a ridiculously cheap rent in Chicago standards...probably not cheap to someone in a small town. Recently, I got on this kick of wanting a house.

After doing the exercises at the workshop, I know that it’s not my top priority. Having a big mortgage or moving to the suburbs to spend less doesn’t really align with my values of freedom and adventure right now. It could later, but not now. That was a big dose of Freedom for me.

Now it’s your turn. What are your top values in life? Start with ten and pare it down to five. How are you or can you spend your money and your time being those values?

Let me know in the comments below!

Courtney Rioux, The Whole Artist coaches actors and other creative talent who feel stuck in their career and want more out of life. She's here to help you shift your mindset from stuck and unhappy to empowered and joyful — all while making it feel fun and easy. It’s like therapy without the therapy.