If I wanted to check your credit worthiness, I’d look at your balance sheet — what you have and what you owe — and I’d want to know about your history of paying your debts. If I wanted to know your values, I’d look at your calendar and checkbook.
How come? Well, the term “values” refers to core beliefs and convictions that drive decisions. Our values are revealed not by what we say but by what we do.
The simple fact is, time and money are limited resources that can materially affect the quality of our lives, so how we spend them reveals what’s really important to us.
We tend to think of our values in the grand context of our deepest moral convictions, but most of us have strong desires that have nothing to do with right and wrong. We value pleasure, comfort, companionship, adventure, and though we hate to admit it, certain possessions and luxuries.
There’s nothing wrong with having and pursuing these non-moral values so long as ethical values aren’t sacrificed in the process. Ultimately, though, it’s how we prioritize competing values that define us.
Our character is determined by our dominant values.
So if you knew that your character would be judged by the choices reflected in your calendar and checkbook, would you spend either your time or money differently?
Are you spending enough time with your children, your parents, your friends? Are you devoting enough time helping others, reflecting, learning, and growing?
Do you put your money where your mouth is? Do you give an adequate amount of your income to charity? Are you making the choice to help the causes you really believe in?
The good news: it’s never too late to change your priorities.