Values are only values when we are willing to sacrifice for them. So values require a sacrifice. Since values are so deep thing, it would be quite odd to let a day go by without sacrificing for your values. Whatever you want to achieve in life, make sure you know what you are sacrificing for.
Are your values consciously chosen or unconsciously adopted? Be mindful, because values are also what you are sacrificing for. To put it more simply: what you do influences also who you are.
Potentially values can become uplifting positive forces for you; you’ll become person of virtue. There is also the danger that you are sacrificing for values which further increase the downward spiral.
All our actions are indicators of our values. As an example: today I went to the shop and I was willing to pay for the frozen wok mix and broccoli, because I value my health and the nutritious food. From this we can deduce, that when I decided to adopt a new value about health about six months ago, it has started to root, because even after that time I am willing to make such sacrifices.
The same way actions can be indicators of destructive values as well. When I am craving for chocolate and eat way more than two bites I am valuing the short term gratification higher than my long term health.
One might say that such small things do not matter, yet it is exactly these small actions do add up. Tom Rath says it well in his book Eat, Move, Sleep that when it comes to nutrition the net score of each meal or day matters. I really like that thinking, because it simplifies each day into conscious choices which we have the ability to win.
Making the small choices does not happen with willpower or discipline. Making small choices happens by creating habits out of those choices, making those small choices easy and the difficult ones hard. I.e. give away the chocolates, spend most of the time in the veggies department in shop and always have healthy snacks at hand.
Two more ideas to make small choices happen every day:
- Make sacrificing for your goals fun. For example, pop hits are short and fun, they become memorable and fun therefore their listeners just can’t stop it. And then we have earworms. And yes, you even might use the power of popular music to associate with your cause.
- Connect your values with a bigger cause and a story. It helps if your choice does help others in their i.e. it is easier to refrain from eating beef if you know that beef is one of the most energy inefficient foods on earth and thus a big problem for our climate.
I choose to use the words sacrifice for the values, because until virtues become our second nature, we are easily misguided beings in the midst of many emotions, external influences etc. We must sacrifice the past selves, in order to grow more closely to our potential selves. Fulfillment comes naturally when we strive to live the life of virtue.