In the gleefully anarchic and psychedelic Everything Everywhere All At Once, we have a celebration of the immigrant experience, Asian American excellence, and the idea that genius can come from the most unexpected places. EEAO swept the Oscars with 7 wins, reimicent of the 9 won by Slumdog Millionaire.
The Daniels up until recently were making wacky / raunchy music videos like Turn Down For What. And now here they are. Definitely an example of guys who are living their values rather than focusing on goals (see Daniel Kwan's speech in the links).
📆 Reboot Your Life: Name and Claim Your Values (Wed 3/22)
I'm hosting another Interintellect salon, my 3rd in a series on rebooting your life (they don't build on each other so feel free to jump in). This one is all about what it means to develop a set of personal values for yourself and includes another fun use of GPT-3 to help you articulate those values in a unique way.
🧠 Creating a Values-Oriented Life
So I've got my values-focused interintellect salon coming up next week, and I thought it'd be a great idea to dedicate a newsletter issue to values and my personal take on them. My thoughts on values have evolved through my own experiences, studying Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), and my executive coaching practice. So, let's dive in:
Goals vs Habits
We all know goals are the OG personal development concept. You set a goal for something you want to achieve in the future, and that goal motivates you or reminds you of what you need to do to reach it. The issue with goals, as pointed out by James Clear and others, is that they're in the future. By definition, you're failing to achieve the goal most of the time until you actually reach it. And once you do, it loses its meaning and fades away. So, there isn't much time to truly enjoy the success of achieving a goal, even if you're on track.
Because of these issues with goals, some people have called for a focus on habits. The great thing about habits is that you can practice them frequently--often daily They're closer to you and easier to access. Habits help you focus on the process rather than the outcome since many things are out of your control.
For instance, setting a goal for a certain net worth by the age of 30 depends on factors like the stock market and your income, but tracking your savings week to week is more within your control.
The Problem with Habits
However, habits still have their downsides as they can be outcome-oriented. You don't want to pick habits that won't work, so you still have to question whether your habits are likely to produce the results you desire. If you want to build a lot of muscle and you only do push-ups and air squats every day, you'll get stronger but not achieve the look you're hoping for, leaving you unhappy because your habits have not led to an unstated goal that you're still thinking about.
Of course, habits can be valuable and useful, but they're not perfect. Plus, maintaining habits can be tedious, especially for someone like me with ADHD who can get things done without relying on a specific habit or routine.
How Values Work
And that's where values come into play. Values are powerful because they're not actions like habits or outcomes like goals. They're directions – guiding principles for how you want to live your life. When you value qualities like adventure, challenge, and boldness, as I do, these values become part of your decision-making criteria. You can ask yourself how to express these values in your life right now or in the coming week, and you can make plans and create habits around them. Values don't replace habits or goals, but they enhance them so that you can find meaning in your day-to-day life.
For example, you might set a goal to climb Mount Everest and create habits that involve going to the climbing gym every week and finding sponsors for your expedition. But you can also have values about being bold and adventurous in your weekend date plans or the dish you bring to a potluck dinner. Anything can have an element of boldness, adventure, and challenge, not just the specific goal of climbing Mount Everest, which might be years away.
How to Get Started with Values
1. Cluster your values instead of just picking from a list.
You've likely seen those tables with words like integrity, responsibility, trust, and fun, and you're supposed to choose around 4 to 6 values. But simply picking a word isn't a very inspiring or nuanced way to develop a sense of values.
Value clusters challenge you to group values together. Typically, you'd go through that long list, select a bunch of words that resonate with you, and then group them together. You could have a cluster like adventure, boldness, and challenge, or one like adventure, freedom, and exploration, which is a different perspective on what that person values. By the way, we’re going to do exactly this (and the other steps) during the salon.
2. Name your value clusters something specific to you
Once you have a grouping you like, I recommend taking it a step further and giving your value cluster a personal name or concept that's meaningful to you. For the first cluster, you might call it "No Fear" or "All In," while the second one could be "The Road Calls," capturing the different nuances we're discussing here
3. State your anti-value, what you are prioritizing this value over
Another helpful approach is to look at values as moving towards something while also moving away from something else. I always struggle with the term integrity as a value because it should have an opposite that's also a value. While few people would say that being a low-integrity person is a good idea, you might value authenticity over polish. You may appreciate the genuine messiness of who you are instead of a polished, presented version of yourself. Some people might value presentation and polish as a sign of respect over the messy version of themselves, making it a genuine choice.
You can think of something like the Agile Manifesto, which talks about valuing people over processes. The idea isn't that the things on the right aren't valuable, but that the things on the left are more valuable because they lead to better software development. This takes the same idea and applies it to values - we value certain things over others because that way of living feels more important and right to us.
I was recently working with a coaching client, and the idea of personalizing values and clarifying what you're saying no to in order to say yes to something else really clicked for them. You've probably heard the saying "If everything is a priority, then nothing is." By defining your values, you're saying, "I value these things over these other things," which will shape your life in specific ways.
4. Affirm your values by journaling how you’ve lived them
Lastly, there's the concept of value affirmations - a clinically proven method for supporting mental health during difficult times or adversity. You take your values and write out how you've put them into practice in your life. By doing this, you gain a certain protection against negative criticism. It's not about just boosting your self-esteem; it's about living a life you find meaningful.
5. Look for new ways to express your values in your life
Going a step further, you can explore values-based planning or values-based living. Especially in challenging times, you might not be able to access your goals, and maybe even some of your habits are breaking down, or things are uncertain and chaotic. But you can always turn to values. You can think about how to express your values given the circumstances you're facing right now. Helping others is something you can do whether you have a job or not, or hold a specific position or not.
Approaching life playfully is possible whether you're at school, home, or work. There's no area of life where you can't express your values. Once you see that your values are always available, it can create a sense of expansiveness and possibility in your life
- Relatable 🏋 One of my favorite sources of fun workouts: Juice & Toya
- ADHD 🧠 Living in an "ADHD simulator" and making terms sound creepy
- Systematic ⚙️ Cross domain thinking: "How might I apply concepts from the study of ants to develop new strategies for defense of a nation?"
- Generative 🤖 Nat.dev is an easy way to try GPT-4 for free while Midjourney just dropped v5
- Togetherness "genius emerges from the collective... we are all descendants of something and someone." — Daniel Kwan
- Creative 👁️ A lovely mini-doc of kung fu queen and OSCAR-WINNING ACTRESS Michelle Yeoh (pre-EEAO)