Should you stick to your values in life?
Yes. And no.
When I was 17, I discovered bodybuilding and became obsessed with getting big and strong. I also did a few bodybuilding competitions.
(You know, the kind where you oil yourself up, wear a mankini and pose very slowly on stage to uplifting music? What, you’ve never done one?)
With that experience to propel me forward, the way I looked shirtless became one of my core values. I wanted to look good all the time and this need to constantly be in peak shape affected the day-to-day decisions I made, including the amount of time I’d spend with friends and family.
When I wasn’t working, I was most likely training. Because those were my values.
It was important for me at the time to stick to these values for two reasons:
1. Being consistent with my values and my actions helped me to have a better sense of self. Oddly enough, it gave me a lot of peace to be really into something, and actually engage in the object of my obsession freely. No cognitive dissonance for this guy.
2. It taught me how to be religiously consistent with something that wasn’t always pleasant.
I see these as two very positive outcomes from that five year time period.
As I’ve gotten older, developed more meaningful relationships and discovered more varied interests, I’ve become a bit less religious.
Now, I still care about being in shape and train relatively hard and consistently, but I’m nowhere near as focused on maintaining a certain look as before.
My values have changed.
It’s important to have the ability to stick to your values because you’ll learn a lot about what motivates you — and you’ll develop the habit of creating habits — a meta-skill which is probably one of the most powerful tools you’ll ever use.
It is not, however, important to stick to the same values forever without actively reassessing them and determining whether or not they still serve you.
Oftentimes, our values represent a snapshot of who we are at a particular time in our lives. Once that version of ourselves changes, it’s perfectly ok, and quite expected, that our values will change along with us.
Do you have the courage to believe something new?