Okay, so let’s just get it out in the open. I hate the phrase “unprecedented times”.
We’ve always been in unprecedented times. There’s never been a set of circumstances identical to the ones we live in now.
So it’s about as shit an excuse as any to drone bomb the bejesus out of personal freedoms and sacred traditions.
Whew. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, where was I? Oh. Right. How can you live out your values in times like these?
Well, it ain’t easy. That’s the truth. It’s never been easy to live out your values. Not even if you’re evil. Because you’ll always meet resistance.
And the key to living out your values is planning for resistant.
We’re all great at living out our values when they’re uncontested. But it’s when the rubber meets the road – when it really counts – that’s when fit hits the shan.
Planning for the hard times in advance is the key to holding true when things aren’t easy. Let’s start with a simple example to illustrate.
A couple months ago I tried the “Whole30” diet. I’m not big on diets, but I am big on intentional living. This was a deliberate experiment to explore the relationship between what I eat, my energy levels, and mood. So for 30 days I basically cut out all processed sugar and grains.
And the results were, I felt great. But it was not without its battles.
The battle had less to do with temptation to stray and more to do with preparedness, as I learned about 3 days in.
Midway into the first week, I kept getting hungry in the afternoons. I meal prepped for every breakfast, lunch, and dinner. But I forgot about snacks. So when hunger struck and I only had shit food around, I started waffling about sticking to the plan.
TLDR; I had every intention of avoiding certain kind of foods. But I set myself up for failure by not preparing for when I got hungry. I held out against the urges, and planned better for the following weeks.
In a nutshell, that’s the key to living out your values in hard times.
You’ve got to prepare for the hard times in advance. And honestly, you’d be stupid not to. It’s inevitable that we’re going to meet resistance. So it behooves us to plan for it.
No, we’re incapable of planning for everything. But that doesn’t mean we can’t set ourselves up to be less likely to fail.
Here are a few tangible examples of what I mean.
You’re setting yourself up to fail living out your values if you’re not financially secure.
If you’re living paycheck to paycheck, then you have almost zero leverage. In fact, worse, everybody else has leverage over you.
Your employer controls your purse strings. As does the government. And your credit card company. And any other lender you owe money to.
Don’t put yourself in this position. Even if you’re not completely debt free. At least build up 3-6 months of cash reserves so you can afford to tell a boss and the government to go to hell when they do something insidious – like force you to undergo an experimental medical procedure or lose your job.
If you’re dependent on your employer to pay your bills, then the house of cards is just waiting to tumble down.
If you don’t want to fall into the Grand Canyon, then don’t go to Arizona.
About the only thing useful I took away from a professor in college is that quote. I think it’s fabulous advice.
If you want to avoid certain doom at a specific thing, then don’t put yourself in the position to do it.
In the lecture he introduced this concept, he was referring to a friend who was about to get married. His friend said something like, “I hope I never cheat on my wife.” To which, he told his friend he was an idiot (allegedly). But he made the point, “You can’t wait until you’re drunk sitting in a hot tub full of half-naked girls who aren’t your wife to start praying you’ll be faithful.”
Part of living out your values means anticipating and preparing for situations that put you in jeopardy. But another huge part means avoiding situations where you knowingly and willfully put yourself in jeopardy to begin with!
Accept responsibility for your fate.
This is the big one. It’s on you. It’s always been on you.
You can look around for cues from others about how you should live. Or you can use your noggin’ to figure it out what matters.
But it really doesn’t matter what set of values you claim to have.
All that matters is whether or not YOU are willing to hold the line. You probably won’t die for somebody else’s values. Hell, you may not even die for your own.
But the nifty thing is, it’s on you to decide. And you’re the one who has to live with the consequences of your decisions – good or bad.