Declutter Your Mind: How to Stop Worrying, Relieve Anxiety, and Eliminate Negative Thinking - S.J. Scott, Barrie Davenport (2016)


The Importance of Core Values

One of the challenges of modern living is figuring out what’s truly important and differentiating those from the obligations that seem important at first, but really don’t matter when you take the time to examine them. If you’re like most people, then you might find that it’s increasingly difficult to minimize, organize, or bypass the deluge of information you encounter on a regular basis.

Today, we have more information, data, and material possessions available to us than any previous generation, but this new way of life doesn’t come with instructions on how to manage it all.

Many of us feel so overwhelmed that we fail to step back and assess the impact of information overload. Nor do we know how to prioritize it all. We become reactors to what life throws at us, rather than carefully evaluating what is best for us.

Our grandparents and great-grandparents were certainly as busy as we are. They didn’t have the benefit of all of the time-saving technology to make their lives easier and more productive. But they did have one big advantage over our generation—they weren’t inundated with the stream of information and deluge of choices that we experience every minute of the day.

They were clear on how to prioritize their time, with less money and fewer choices to entice or confuse them. The “Greatest Generation,” those who grew up during the Great Depression, had strong, clear values and priorities, and a solid sense of purpose forged during the difficult years during and after World War II.

A strong work ethic coupled with a focus on family, faith, and patriotism defined this generation of Americans. They knew who they were and what they stood for, and therefore how to focus their time and energy.

Fortunately, there is actually a simple solution to cutting through the “noise” of modern society, which can help you make effective decisions whenever you feel overwhelmed by all the available options: Defineyour core values .

Why Core Values?

One of the simplest ways to eliminate mental clutter and live a more fulfilling life is to define your values and guiding principles for your life. Now, more than ever, we need these principles to help us clarify how we want to spend our time, energy, and money.

Why is this important?

Because your core values can serve as a measuring stick for all of your choices and decisions in life , keeping you focused on the person you want to be and the life you wish to lead. By living in alignment with your values, you create the best environment for happiness, inner peace, and clear thinking.

Core values form a foundation for your life that endures through time, life difficulties, and major changes. Embracing your core values is like being a tree with deep and stable roots—the storms of life will not dislodge you. When you’re clear on your values, you reduce confusion, overthinking, worry, and anxiety.

For example, one of Barrie’s core values in her professional life is freedom and flexibility. Once she defined this value, she didn’t want to pursue a traditional 9-to-5 job because she knew she wouldn’t be happy. Even when great job opportunities came her way, it was easy to say, “No, thank you,” because she was clear on her values.

Personal development blogger and author Steve Pavlina describes the importance of core values like this:

Values act as our compass to put us back on course every single day, so that day after day, we’re moving in the direction that takes us closer and closer to our definition of the “best” life we could possibly live. The “best” is your own ideal, but generally as you get closer to this ideal, you’ll enjoy increasingly positive shades of “better” even if you never reach “best.” And this makes sense because many results in life exist on a continuum.

Living out of alignment with your values or outgrowing your existing values can throw you off course and contribute to feelings of anxiety and depression. If you haven’t defined your values, your life can feel unbalanced or directionless, and you may not know why.

In this section, we go over four strategies to define your core values and make intelligent decisions about your life obligations, so what you do on a daily basis matches up with these important items.