A Discovery Process

Do you really believe that “time is money”? Can you recommend a bank where I could open an account to immediately deposit the hours I could not sleep last night and use them for something else instead in the future? Can you really “manage time”? I am pretty good at managing my projects and our family budget. I know others who are good at managing people, programs, and activities that can be scheduled. However, time management is simply an oxymoron ( = two contradictory terms appearing together). We cannot really manage time just as much as we cannot manage the weather.

We can effectively and efficiently manage our daily activities if we find the real reasons to focus on them. That’s why we need to identify a solid foundation, our values or principles that will guide each activity.

The Toastmasters International’s values give the standard and clear focus for all clubs around the world, guiding all leaders and members with four words: Integrity, Respect, Service, and Excellence.

I learned from Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People that writing down our personal values is a powerful tool for leading a meaningful life. If corporations publish their values for guiding their employees, why don’t we “publish” our own? I can honestly testify that it is an exciting discovery process to draft and finalize those values. You do not have to invent anything new, only dig deep and detect what was/is/will be important in your life.

The process may be easy or time-consuming, but it is well worth your effort. The final “product” will serve as a solid foundation for everything you can fit into the available time. For more information, learn from Stephen Covey’s book or workshops. These are the steps:

1. Ask: “What is important for me?” Make a list of all the words/phrases that come to mind. Continue until you cannot think of anything else to add.

2. After a break, pull the related items into categories/values and give them titles.

3. Explain the values in meaningful ways.

4. Assign a time frame to focus on each value.

5. Revise each value until you are satisfied.

6. Revisit your values/guiding principles when necessary.

Benjamin Franklin, in his autobiography, shares with us his 13 virtues ( = values). As an example, I quote his explanations for the first two:

1. Temperance: Eat not to dullness. Drink not to elevation.

2. Silence: Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself. Avoid trifling conversation.

You may end up with only one value or a few. They do not have to be too wordy or complex. While Benjamin Franklin had 13, an anonymous person needed only this: “I want to be a person my dog thinks I am.Do not judge others if their values do not look like yours.

It is always YOUR DECISION what is important or urgent for you. Values do not have to change. Revisiting may be necessary only when life circumstances change. Enjoy the process and its results.

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