“Don’t tell me what you value, show me your budget, and I’ll tell you what you value.”
US politics aside, this statement is so accurate. What you spend your money on is a direct reflection of your values… what’s truly important to you.
I want to do a little exercise with you here so take out a pen and piece of paper (or do a note in your phone).
Step 1: Write down every single thing that is important to you. It can be as many as you like… house, cars, spouse, bikes, pool, clothes, kids, climate change, movies…. Anything at all. Don’t overthink it. Just write them all down.
When you’ve exhausted the list sit back and have a look at it. Make sure you didn’t forget anything. When you are sure you list is complete you can move onto step 2.
Step 2: Cross out half the list. This will be ok. There will be things on the list you can easily get rid of. When your list is half what it was move to step 3.
Step 3: repeat step 2. But it’s getting harder now. You have to really think about what’s more important… this or that? a or b? or x,y,z?
Step 4: Keep repeating this process until there are only 3 things left on your list. That’s right… just 3 things. Some of you will be ok with it and really clear, others might be trying to tie a couple of things together! (I know you! I’ve done this activity with lots of women in my workshops and we get lots of laughs here).
Step 5: have a good look at the list and what is left on it. I’m willing to bet that there are no “things” on your list of top 3 values. For most of you I would suggest it looks like family/spouse/children, friends, love, health, fitness, time, community, holidays, education, experiences. Your house might be on there but it will normally be listed as your home (there’s a difference between a house and a home isn’t there?)
Step 6: Have a look at your budget or even just your bank statement and see what you are spending money on. Does it reflect these 3 things that are truly important to you or is it mindless spending? If it doesn’t reflect your values, or what you want your life to look like, where can you make changes?
Step 7: Sleep on it. Ruminate on it for a few days (I have one client who calls this bit “marinading”!) Journal. Reflect. Then have another look at step 6.
Remember, this is completely about you (although if you are in a relationship you might want to do it together so you are on the same page). Don’t get swept up in the idea of what your life “should” look like, or what your friends are doing, or your work colleagues, or some other societal idea of what a successful person does. This is all about you.
Have fun and leave a comment below to let me know what’s truly important to you.