Articulating your values and goals can help you find your way in life.
More than 30 years ago, Robert Fulghum wrote a book titled “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.” It’s still around, and the back-to-school season is a good time to revisit these ideas.
“Don’t hit people. Wash your hands before you eat. Flush. Share everything.” We would do well to revisit and reflect on these truths and how they impact our adult world, our personal happiness and life with others.
Finding our way in life can be difficult. One strategy that helps — regardless of personal wealth — is articulating your values and goals for living. I’m not talking about goals for how much stuff you want, how many places you hope to visit or what exciting things are on your bucket list. I’m talking about what really matters for a healthy life.
Like most people, I, too, have struggled to identify what gives my life most meaning. And, also like most people, I’ve made mistakes. I have not always been as patient or kind as I wish I’d been. I’ve tried things that turned out to be shortsighted. I’ve made promises I couldn’t keep.
I trust God’s forgiveness is greater than my mistakes. I keep trying.
If I have a bad day, if I hurt someone I care about or if I disappoint myself — as we all do — I come back to three touchstones that will shape my life over the long haul.
I want to live a life of joy. I want to live a life of love. And I want to be closer to God.
I’m pretty consistent in expressing these values. Sometimes, though, I need help living up to what I believe. I often apply these tips to live these values:
1. Be present in this moment.
2. Don’t make decisions when in a bad mood.
3. Spend time with true friends.
4. Read books.
5. Do the things that give me joy.
6. Love something — and someone — deeply.
7. Follow President Abraham Lincoln’s advice: “I don’t like that man. I need to get to know him better.”
8. Always have a dog.
9. Define my relationship with money. It is not a means in itself.
10. Receive counsel from mentors.
The most influential mentor in my life, William Sloane Coffin, was fond of saying, “There is no smaller package than a man all wrapped up in himself.” I’ve learned never to take myself too seriously.
On Sept. 1, 1987, Church Health opened. Over the last 32 years, I have gained a lot of insight and learned a lot. And I keep learning. In some ways, we are always in kindergarten — always at the beginning of what life can teach us.