“If your vision of your life centers on your highest values, you will be aligned with your dharma far above everyday existence. Whatever the values are—love, creativity, service, spiritual growth, beauty, or whatever you choose—dedicating yourself to the highest values unites purpose and inner growth as nothing else can.” ~Deepak Chopra
I wasted almost a decade of my life. Don’t make the same mistake as me.
On my fortieth birthday, I found myself lying in bed, fully awake at 5 a.m., with a tightness in my throat.
“A new decade,” I thought, without much excitement.
Staring at the ceiling, I tried to remember what I had accomplished in the past ten years. As I searched in vain for any memorable moments to celebrate, panic began to fill my chest. “I wasted my thirties,” I thought. “One-eighth of a lifetime.”
Have you ever felt that way, as if life has passed you by? That you’ve wasted some precious years that you’ll never be able to get back?
Perhaps you got caught in the hamster wheel, being so busy with work and daily chores that you didn’t realize how quickly time was flying by. Maybe you’ve thought of traveling, writing a book, or learning to play the guitar but continually postponed your projects for a ‘someday’ that has never arrived.
It doesn’t feel good.
That morning, I realized I had made a mistake. I spent most of my thirties pursuing a single goal: building my business. It became an obsession that consumed all my time and energy to the point that I forgot to nurture my relationships, travel, or do anything else exciting.
At forty, I had very few friends and no hobbies, and I couldn’t help but feel sorry for myself.
Later on, I discovered that this could have been prevented by doing one thing differently: by adopting a simple habit that ensures we live a good life almost every single day and avoid future regrets.
That’s what I want to share with you.
How Can We Live a Good Life Every Day?
A few months after my fortieth birthday, I listened to a podcast with Hal Elrod, the creator of The Miracle Morning, in which he shared his perspective on how to live our best lives every day.
His realization came on a specific day after spending time with his daughter, working a bit on his business (his life’s work), connecting with his wife, exercising, and eating healthy meals. As he wound down after dinner, he thought to himself, “Today was the best day of my life.”
He then wondered why he had just had this thought since nothing truly special had happened that day—his child wasn’t born, he hadn’t gotten married, and he hadn’t booked any elite clients. So what was it that made the day so great?
The day had been filled with all the most important things to him, his top values: his family, his relationship with his wife, living a healthy lifestyle, and inspiring people (his life’s work). He realized that living a good life, a regret-free life, comes down to living in alignment with our top values every day.
It hit me. This was my solution to avoid wasting another decade: value-centered living.
Here’s how we can implement this into our daily lives.
Step 1: Identify your top five values.
Your top values are what you consider most important and meaningful in your life. They come from your personal beliefs about what it means to live a good life.
Below are a few questions to help you identify your top values:
- What do you need in your life to feel fulfilled? Or, what’s missing in your life that you need to feel fulfilled?
- How do you like to spend your time, and what would you like to have more time for?
- What do you enjoy spending money on?
- If your life ended right now, what would you regret not having done, accomplished, experienced, and become? And if you had one year to live, how would you spend your time? What would you focus on?
- What would make you say you have lived a good life when you are 100 years old?
I recommend identifying your top five values because if we center our life on just one main value, we risk feeling dissatisfied and even having regrets in the future because we won’t have nurtured the other things that are important to us.
That’s what happened to me when I just focused on building my business (which is my value of doing meaningful work) and neglected the other areas of my life.
Another example is a friend of mine who has two kids and highly values being a good mom. However, after a few years of taking care of everyone and not addressing her own needs and other desires—she stopped doing art, put her career on hold, and wasn’t taking much care of herself—she began feeling resentful toward her family. She was giving-giving-giving but not filling her own cup by honoring her other needs and desires.
So focusing on just one of our values for a long time can create an imbalance in our life. That’s why step one of the value-centered living habit is to identify our top five values, not just the top one.
Step 2: List actionable ways to honor your top values.
Once you have identified your top five values, make them actionable by expressing them as verbs. For example, if one of your values is meaningful connections, you could phrase it as “connecting deeply and authentically.” Start each value statement with a verb.
Next, specify more precisely how you can put each value into practice. For instance, for the value of connecting deeply and authentically, it could be:
- Being fully present when interacting with someone—giving them my undivided attention
- Listening with the intention to understand, not just to reply
- Sharing my honest thoughts and feelings
- Being open and vulnerable
- Staying in touch with my closest friends and family by sending them messages and calling them regularly
- Scheduling time every week for social activities
Try writing at least five actions for each value. It’ll be helpful for step 3.
Step 3: Do something daily to embody your top values.
The last step is the value-centered living daily habit.
Every morning, look at your list of actions you created in step 2, and decide what you’ll do to honor your top values.
Personally, I write this in my journal. First, I write down my top five values as reminders, and then I write down what I’ll do to nurture each one that day.
It doesn’t have to be complicated. For my value of meaningful relationships, I may just write a nice comment on a friend’s post. For self-care, I may go to a yoga class. For purposeful work, I may film a Tik Tok video.
This simple daily habit makes sure that we give attention to and nurture the most important things in our lives. Every single day, even if the day isn’t perfect, we are more likely to feel satisfied because we’re focusing on what matters to us.
This simple practice has been a game-changer for me (thanks to Hal Elrod!), and I hope it can serve you too.
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