The DO LESS Revolution: Uncovering Your Guiding Values

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Hello Revolutionaries!

This week we are going to uncover our Guiding Values so next week we can apply them to choosing our  Essential Tasks. This will free us to be concentrated powerhouses who DO LESS and LIVE MORE! But before we do, let’s do a brief check-in so you can feel great about how far you’ve already come.

Last week our theme was Setting Limits. We took our Monster To-Do list down a notch by eliminating things that were haunting us, but not serving us. Now pretty please answer some or all of these questions in the comments. Or, if you blog answer them in a post and add the unique URL to our Mr. Linky. (I know. “Mr. Linky.” That sounds naughty doesn’t it? Tee Hee.) Feeling shy? Like pen-and-paper? That’s fine. Just scribble it on the back of that receipt there on your desk. That would work too. (Remember, Fast and Dirty is the way to get it done.) Ready? Here we go!

  • Name one thing you crossed off your Monster To-Do list because it wasn’t important to you any longer.
  • How many things did you have on your Monster To-Do list that actually didn’t need to be done in the next 30-60 days?
  • When your Gremlins started to nag you about “not getting anything done,” which of your one-hour-or-less tasks did you complete?
    Which of your Most Important Task (M.I.Ts) got done last week? How’d that feel?
  • Which M.I.T.s are still hanging out? Do they still get the special M.I.T. rank, or can you demote them?
  • Name any Ah-Ha Moments you’ve had so far in the process.

There. Don’t you feel better? I knew you would. Onward!

 How Your Guiding Values Help You Choose the Essential

The next stage of the DO LESS Revolution is identifying your Guiding Values and using them to determine what’s essential. This sounds kind of onerous, and I can’t think of a way to make it sound cheeky, but really it isn’t bad at all. Maybe it will help to know that I turned mine into a multi-colored mobile. How tough can it be if it looks like something out of Dr. Seuss?

It’s relaxing to note that choosing the essential isn’t like trying to find a needle in a haystack. You don’t have to determine at random what is most important amongst all your tasks. Once you peek inside and see what values you already carry, you can use them to ferret out the imposter-tasks hiding out among the essentials. It’s like a decoder ring! Doesn’t that seem like fun? You get to be Dick Tracy!

Uncovering your Guiding Values will help you:

  • See how fantastic you are. (You value amazing things! Not a vapid choice among ’em!)
  • Trust your instincts around how you spend your time. (Because woah! Check out your awesome internal compass!)
  • Make choices for yourself-including choosing your Essential Tasks–knowing they are birthed out of solid, meaningful values.
  • Resist Gremlins (and societal messages) about how “everyone else” is doing the things you’ve left asunder. (Your Gremlins don’t get a say in this-Gremlin values tend to be a bit dodgy.)

Are you ready to have that powerful of a tool in your spy gear? Let’s go get your decoder ring!

How to Uncover your Guiding Values

(Notice I didn’t say how to “find” your values. They’re already there. We just need to adjust the focus.)

Some of you right now as we speak are writing down your list of Guiding Values. You can’t get enough of them! The words are just rolling of your tongue. Connection. Financial Security. Fun. Presence… You are probably one of those people who played *8Things this week–and we like you, we really do. But right now you get to chillax, because some of us are having a small but obvious panic attack right now. (Hold on, we’ll be right back – unless you want to come with us to check your work.)

Okay, you folks that are feeling a little panicky, here’s what to do if your Guiding Values aren’t holding still enough for you to take their picture.

  • Make a list of Activities that Matter. What do you like to do most? (Hint: it’s probably in whatever color you used to mark “Things That Give Me Energy” on your Have-Done List.) What makes your day feel icky if you don’t do it? What things do you always make sure happen for yourself/your family?
  • Look for What is in Common. I like to think of this process as “distilling.” If you distill these activities into a potent brew, what’s left in the bottle? For instance if cleaning your house makes you feel good, then Organization might be one of your values, or perhaps Esthetics. If you always get in your morning run, Health or Fitness maybe tantamount. If there are lots of birthdays and holiday celebrations on the list, maybe Connection is the value they hold in common. This is one of those “don’t overthink it” things. Just run your eye down the list and see which words come to mind. 
  • Pick *8 Things: From your list of words naming the commonalities, pick the *8 Things that ring the most strongly with you. Give yourself five minutes to do this. Now breathe a little. (Phew!) Give yourself one more minute to swap one more than 1 thing (if you must.) There you have it. Your super-distilled ultra-potent decoder ring!

Still need help?
When I first started working with life coach Jena Strong of Strong Coaching my head was awhirl. I had a zillion thoughts about my work and vocation, and all the accompanying “but why’s” and “but how’s.” My existential Monster To-Do List was totally out of control!

Jena spent one hour–just one hour!–helping me uncover my Guiding Values, and within a week I had begun to use this powerful tool for making life decisions. My inner whirlwind immediately began to still and eventually my Gremlins settled down as well.

Now, I know I don’t normally do such a direct pitch on my Magpie Girl. But I think the work Jena does around Guiding Values is incredibly helpful. So as a special favor to me, Jena is offering Magpie Girl readers a discount on a one-hour Uncovering Your Guiding Values Session. This session is available at the reduced rate of $75 through July 31st. (Tell her Magpie Girl sent you.) A Facebook quiz is just not going to do it for you here, folks. If you’re stuck, Jena can help.

Up Next

Now that you’ve been amazed by your Have-Done List; set limits and eliminated stuff off your Monster To-Do List; and uncovered your Guiding Values, you are ready to start doing what Leo Babauta calls “Choosing the Essentials.” You’ve already had some practice with this when you chose your three “Most Important Tasks (M.I.T.s)” for last week. Take a few minutes now to identify your M.I.T.s for this week as well. Want to know mine, just for fun?

Body Maintenance: Walk, swim, or do yoga every day.
Connect: host expat coffee hour, call Emma on graduation day, go to Lisabeth’s concert, dinner with the Marshes before the move Stateside, my first Danish dinner with the parents from Eden’s class, spend the morning with Paul before he leaves for the States. (There are more of these than usually b/c we are leaving the country for six weeks)
Teach: write Ask Magpie, *8Things, DO LESS, and Soultribes columns.

Those things in bold? Those are what Leo calls my “One Goal” (as you can see, I’m very good at rebelling.) They are born out of my Guiding Values, and they help me develop what Leo calls “the fine art of choosing the essential” so I can have a powerful, concentrated life.

Your one goal is waiting to get born too! So choose your M.I.T.s (this will calm your To-Do Gremlins down while we work on things); and make a list of your Guiding Values. We’ll see you next week when we learn to choose the essential. Viva La Revolution!

do-less-small3The Do Less Revolution is an on-going, start-any-time project of Magpie Girl. Click here to join or find all the DO LESS posts here. Recieve an update on new Do Less items by following us on Twitter. Thanks for being here!


Taylor June 5, 2009 at 8:22 pm

This is so important. So often I feel liek the only messages I’m getting are “You should be getting more done! No time to relax! Must complete never-ending to-do list!” It gets to the point where I almost feel guilty for doing simple things like reading, meditative thought, or even watching a good movie.

All the magazines and talk shows are always giving ways to “do more” by “uncluttering” your life, and what that idea essentially comes down to is getting rid of anything creative, anything relaxing, anything meditative, really just anything that is personal or requires introspection. All of our energies are expected to be spent outward – doing things for other people.

The silly saying, “A clean house is a sign of a wasted life,” really is true.

Also, I’d just like to say that I now want to start a blog to join all your lovely activities, but I’m sure it would end up just being a Magpie girl workbook.

Heyyyy, there’s an idea for ya. ;-)

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