Align Your Core Value with a Robust Organizing Principle
Here’s the question today: “What is the priority around which you organize your life?” Whoa, that’s too big, isn’t it? Let’s go micro, and ask, “What is the priority around which you organize your day?”
Can you articulate it? And further, is the priority that you’re busy supporting through your planning and decisions and actions in fact the real thing that you want to be supporting in this moment?
If you are a mother with young children, you undoubtedly organize your day around the needs of those children. This is what must be done.
If you are employed, you might organize your day around the hours that you must devote to your job. Makes sense, right?
If you are dedicated to having a strong, agile body, then you probably organize your day around your opportunities for working out. Beautiful bodies rarely happen by default, right?
People who have a clear and dedicated sense about their core value (another way to say “priority”) often make cleaner decisions about the organizing principle of their day. Here are some things they do:
They create a time and a space in which to support their core value.
They allocate funds for supplies, courses, training.
They enlist support and or appreciation from friends and family in order to fulfill the organizing principle.
They seek training or apprenticeship or mentorship to deepen their core value.
They manage rest, energy, and strength in order to perform well.
They measure their progress, or go public with their creation.
They give conscious gratitude for having this value/priority in life.
This priority is important to them, and supporting it gives them great joy.
Take a minute to think about the core value of some close friends or associates. What they really value should strongly influence how they shape their time. Make a list of some of the core values you see in friends:
Lynn makes art.
Anthony is a body builder.
Susan is a poet.
Neal is a golfer.
Marylou lives with peace and well-being every day.
Cami serves businesses that she believes in.
Jane is getting a Masters degree.
Krista is a yogini.
Bob is learning to play bridge.
Dani is raising conscious children.
Eric is making money.
Vicki is seeking ageless beauty.
Jeannie is reading historical novels.
Barbara cleans her house.
Ask them how they organize their days in order to give their best selves to these endeavors. Collect data on how they manage to juggle all the requirements of a 21st century householder and simultaneously remain devoted to the core value in their life. I’ll bet you find that each one of them has mastered the hard lesson of saying “no” to activities or people who detract them from their core value. I’d also bet they each have had to say “no” to some things they would actually like to do, but which in the long run would damage their commitment to or progress in their main activity.
Think about that: It’s actually easy to say “no” to toxic vampires in our lives, right? But it’s hard to say “no” to a fun night out with friends when in fact you really want to be at the Yoga Shala at 6:30 the next morning. No to bad stuff = Easy. No to good stuff = Life gets harder.
Now, back to you. Can you articulate your core value, the thing that you most cherish, most honor, and believe to be foundational to your presence on this earth? Look at the organizational system you have created to support and extend this core value. Let’s call it an “organizing principle.” Is it sound and obvious? Or is that system a little wobbly. Could it use some shoring up?
A good test of your wobbly-ness is how often you allow someone else’s priority to disrupt your organizing principle. Have you ever let someone else’s needs, requirements, or expectation dominate the way you structure your day? or your life? (This could be a six-hour conversation, right?? And it might require therapy!))
I can tell you from my own personal experience that honoring another’s agenda over you own will put you on the fast track to misery. You suffer with a low-grade dissatisfaction in life when your organizational principle is not aligned with your deepest core value.
Becoming aware that you have lost grip on your own core value and priorities can help you course-correct. Understanding this misalignment in your life is the first step to seeing clearly what needs to change. And the good news is this: becoming aware of this misalignment is the hardest part of the job of making changes to restore alignment between your organizing principles and your core values. Not saying it’s easy. I’m just saying that awareness is the first and biggest step we must make toward effecting change.
So you may be saying, well, just exactly what is an “organizing principle.” Good! That’s exactly what I’ll discuss in next week’s post, but here’s a place to begin:
Look at your calendar. A calendar is an organizing principle. It helps you space and place all of your responsibilities; ideally the big ones are blocked out in your calendar. A calendar can also give you a visual shot of just how you are spending your time—and whose agendas you are fulfilling. If the core value you hold at this moment in your life is not given a space on this calendar, please, add it to the calendar now. You may have to re-organize the other required items in your daily calendar, but this is so do-able. And there are tons of systems, and coaches, and advisers out there who are interested in helping you do that.
I use and recommend that my clients use the NeuYear calendar (neuyear.net). It has the usual week at a glance design, but also includes space for top priorities, weekly tracking, weekly highlights and mistakes, and idea capture. I really like this calendar and have found it to be a helpful organizing tool in my life.
The first step is to buy the calendar, it doesn’t really matter what kind. The second step is to put your core value in writing. And the third step is to block out a space to devote your time and attention to supporting, extending, and expressing this core value.
This is a form of intending. And when you make an intention, Life organizes itself around that intention. Stay focused. Stay dedicated. Seek support. And watch how your sense of alignment with the thing that matters most to you begins to shape the structure, tone, and energy of your day.
See you next week for more on “organizing principles.”