Am I doing what’s really important to me?

Writing inspiration comes from many places. Recently I’ve encountered a few different references about trying to understand what’s really important.  This was a great thing to think about moving into a new year.

Karen Hume at Profound Journey talked about her morning journaling: “In selecting and writing about the most important thing that happened to me each day, I find clues as to what makes me happy, grateful, enthusiastic or, occasionally, anxious, worried, or fearful.”

In my reading on adult development it states that achieving Stage 4 (higher order adult development) means your personal actions (what want to do/what actually do) are aligned with your values. Your values being indicative of what’s most important to you.

Another recently read blog post talked about your activities lining up with your values. Essentially, I took that to: can you fill in the statement “I value x, so I spend my time, energy and money on a, b, c” and have it make sense? What a great way of thinking about doing what’s really important!
And still another recent article I was reading about the psychology of retirement stated that understanding your personal values and beliefs in relationship to your activities was crucial to your emotional health in retirement.

Who can fight all this serendipity on values and actions? I felt it was time to relook at my values, what I want, and what I actually do. And at the end of the year, this helps with a good review of the previous year and a possible refocus for the upcoming year — better aligning future activity plans with my values — what’s important to me.
I’ve been writing a morning journal for quite a while now — thanks to the inspiration from Julia Cameron in her book The Artist Way. While she encourages morning journaling about desires, frustrations, celebrations, worries, and gratitude, I find my morning writing tends to be what I did yesterday, how I felt about it, and what I’m planning for today. With the new insight from Karen (above), I’m working to make those morning entries a bit more focused on what’s important to me, but for now it very much lent itself to a look into my activities — both intent and action.
As part of my self-discovery in the early stages of my retirement transition, I clarified my values. So I felt it should be relatively easy to create a series of statements:

“I value x, so I spend my time, energy and money on a, b, c”

And a few were easy. For example: I value belonging so I spend my time creating and implementing intentional connections via blogging, setting up dinners with friends, and planning girlfriend walk & talks.
Because I had both my intentional plans and my actual activities as well as my complete vision statement (I want to be/do) based on my values, my review actually allowed the following chart to be filled in:


What I want to be/do (vision statement) What I planned

What I actually do – how I spend my time and energy


(For those who know me well, you know I love my framework charts!)

As I filled in the chart, some rows had time spent (things I actually do), but not any link to a value – these could be considered time wasters. I spend too much time on mind-numbing iPad games, Facebook looking, and blog reading (stalking only). Interestingly, the new philanthropic activities I’m beginning don’t link to my (current) clarified values. This makes me wonder — do I need to relook at my values? Am I bending to expectation that retirement = volunteering?


I also have more plans (intentions) than I actually do time spent in a couple of my value- based rows. This is something I will work on — turn intention into action!  I will be using this chart framework in planning out my 2018 activities… creating a more values-based action plan.
So, are you doing what is really important to you?

Picture Credit:  Beauty among the Thorns – Tim Doyle, Africa 2017

22 thoughts on “Am I doing what’s really important to me?

  1. There were some really interesting thoughts in your post that have me mulling over how my values and what I spend my time on tie together. I also tend to spend a lot of time playing games, FB-ing and blogging, but I also think that sometimes our brain just needs to have some chillout time and that’s what those things (plus reading, jigsaws etc) do for me. I think it boils down to being more intentional about what we spend the bulk of our time on – and retirement makes us more conscious of not wasting our lives away on things that aren’t important. As I reduce my days at work I definitely feel the need to find something valuable to invest my time in – still pondering that one!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Once again, you’ve put together an insightful post. I love the Values Framework and can imagine using it a lot. I’m afraid that I’d find more than a few time wasters (iPad solitaire anyone?) that don’t align with what I claim to value.

    Anytime – but maybe especially at the beginning of a new year – is a good time to reflect on what we are – or could be – doing to make this our best life.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Janis – I’m so glad I am not alone — I’m hooked on a iPad Bedazzle Blitz game at the moment. Ugh. (It was Scrabble before that, which is at least a little more mind expanding.) It was a great reflection tool for me because it looked at both intention/plans and what I really, really do. I’m not sure I’ll give up all of my time wasters, but maybe rein them in a bit!

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  3. A wonderful intentional connection can be formed by posting something from your blog at my Senior Salon on Mondays. Take a peak at it. I think you will find the opportunity to make connections with a lot of wonderful people.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. The Senior Salon goes live at 1 AM on Mondays at When you visit Haddon Mysings on Monday you will see an in link frog. Just tap the frog and you will be given step by step directions on how to publish your post. You do not have to change your post or mention Haddon Musings. I do request, however, that in the spirit of the Salon that you visit other people and read and comment on their work. It is really very simple and an enjoyable way to meet kindred bloggers. I hope to see you there on Monday.

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  4. I have started to keep a journal every night reflecting what has happened that day. I really like the idea of writing down what I value and checking in with myself to see if I am spending time on those activities.

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    1. It was pretty insightful doing the whole framework possibly because I do have written action plans (yearly, quarterly) – I’m a list-junkie. The whole thing really started when I noticed how many of my intentions (action plan activities) didn’t get started… and I wondered why. Then the whole series of what’s important references came about. Just made me go wow!

      BTW – getting clarity on your own values versus what you think others expect is step one. That was challenging, but there are some great tools out there for that as well. It was hard for me to admit that “family/community” is not one of my core values. It doesn’t mean I don’t love my family and my extended friends who are sometimes closer than family to me. But it’s really not a core value to me… and I had to deal with what that means as a woman.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Pat, Thanks for a very thought-provoking post. Since I am now a caregiver, it is sometimes hard for me to find time to do the other activities I want to do. I love my husband and consider my caregiving a labor of love, but it is also frustrating when I plan a day only to have the dishwasher break or some other task arise that he normally would have attended to in the past. Since I have to now take care of all household duties without someone to share the work, I often feel derailed and overwhelmed. I also found your mention of volunteering interesting as I decided early-on to discontinue much of the volunteer work I had done all my life. That was key for me. I was a volunteer for many, many organizations over the years and decided any volunteer work in retirement had to be something I felt a strong desire to do. While I know several people who love volunteering in retirement, retirement does not equal volunteering…that is someone else’s value being thrust upon all retirees. If it is a value for you, then do it! Great post and happy new year to you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kathy – I understand the feeling of derailment . I think that was my (unspoken) word for 2017.

      I will encourage you, having been a caregiver for many years, to reach out and ask for help. As a strong woman, you will find that challenging (I do!). But others will want to help…and it will give them a feeling of positivity to be able to do it. What household tasks/duties can be parceled out? And yes, I understand the crisis moments – I’m still primary caregiver to my SIL for her crisis moments (in her mind). I’m learning to breathe and realize that sometimes, her crisis does not have to be mine. (a learning curve for sure!)

      Thanks for the comment on volunteering. I know it does feel like other values thrust on me… but I did succumb and joined a women’s philanthropic group this year and am on a committee. If I don’t find it enjoyable, I will not recommit. It’s a one year commitment to the group and a 2-month committee. I have never been a volunteer (unlike your many years); I’ve always just donated to causes I believe in. So this is a way to see if volunteering is something that feels right – a long enough commitment for that, but not too long, either.

      Happy new year. It was lovely to see your comment on my post.


  6. Hi Pat,
    I swear we were separated at birth. I’ve never met anyone whose processes and reflections so closely mirror my own!

    I find that adding the “what’s the most important thing?” piece to my journaling has definitely helped me to clarify my values. I’ve done lots of processes to help clarify my values and they’ve all been worthwhile but, as you show in your chart and the equation, the real difference comes in the actions we take to live those values. For example, I have valued creativity and challenge for – oh, FOREVER – but it has only been since January 1st that I have actually put those values into action by taking time each day to write in a genre that is unfamiliar and uncomfortable for me.

    We’ve talked a little about our vision boards. I put three words on my board. One is my word for this year – NOTICE. Another is the word TODAY, as in “Pretend there is no tomorrow and do this today.” The third is a reminder of values. The word is VERB meaning it’s so much more important to be the action – write, than the noun – a writer.

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    1. Oh dear… we are so separated at birth twins. I just narrowed onto my Word of the Year after doing a vision board. And yes, a blog post about the whole process is drafted! But briefly, I thought my word for the year was going to be Action…. as in turn intention into action. Then my vision board had images of flight – birds and butterflies. And the narrative even used the phase – your retirement lifestyle will take flight. So I shifted my word of the year to SOAR. which of course is also an acronym (old corporate work habits never die, do they?) – Savoring, Optimistic, Activating, Resilient. 2 things I need to be this year, and 2 things I want to do. The action is still in there.. but it’s also recognizing I need time this year to deal with treatment and recovery, and I cannot allow my workaholic tendencies to take over – savor things, not rush off checklists. It’s feeling good – combined with the link of intention (action plans) to values… I’m thinking 2018 will be an amazing year!


  7. Hi Pat – The bulletin board above my desk has a header, “Live Less Out of Habit, and More Out of Intent.” Immediately below that, in the center “We Value,” then surrounding the center core values are each of the values that hubs and I actually sat down and discussed. It works for me to live with intention when I can sort of “check in” easily by just looking up.

    I have been journaling in the morning, listing things I’m grateful for, along thoughts of “Things I Will Do Better Today Than I Did Yesterday.” But I really LOVE your concept of “What was the most important thing that happened yesterday?” I believe I’ll add that to the mix! Thanks for letting me steal it! ~ Warmly, Lynn

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lynn, And I love the “what will I do better today”! Might need to add that to my morning journal. A friend and I were talking last night over wine about being your best self everyday and how to think how to do that… this is a great build. Yes, we get a bit existential on the second glass of wine. We talked about self image and resiliency too. LOL.

      My personal challenge with the “Live more out to Intent” is putting intent into action! I have multiple things I intend to do, and they never seem to get started. I look at them and really do want to do them…. so this year I need to focus on turning intent into action. Especially as my intents are more clearly aligned to my values with this framework approach!


      1. Oh, I hear you, girlfriend! I have list upon list upon list of things I intend to do!!! I’ve heard that successful business people choose only the top three things on their To Do lists. I figure this is a little bit like daily resolutions. For example, this morning I resolved to complete a particularly nagging job assignment. And what am I doing? WordPress comments! Yikes! Well, at least I’m thinking about it! Time to get to work! Have a great, focused day and accomplish some intention! ~ Lynn


  8. Hi, Pat – The universe definitely has appeared to surround you with messages of ‘values’ and ‘actions’. I love your Values Framework Chart and your reflections on what is truly important to you. Strong relationships with friends and family is what I value most, but I have learned that I need to balance this with quality downtime….which after a very full holiday season I am just about to head into!
    I look forward to reading your continued plans and reflections.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Donna – It was interesting to do the complete exercise with both the intention and the reality. And to see how what I value isn’t really showing completely in my choices of where I spend my time. Hopefully awareness will result in some change going forward. This has been a huge time of reflection for me!


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