During this last year, I spent much time indoors pondering what matters to me. Life happened despite the pandemic: I traveled and changed jobs as planned. I looked for a set of values behind these decisions to apply for future decision-making. Here’s what I came up with.
My values are:
Simplicity, Creativity, and Optimize for long-term happiness.
Why values matter
- To provide a framework for decision-making: It’s good to have long-term criteria to base the decisions on
- For protection: everyone’s value is different and what feels right to others might feel wrong to you. Knowing your values helps to detect and avoid incompatible values.
- For happiness: working on what matters will make you happier. Dopamine, a happiness chemical, is released on incremental progress. It’s 100% legal and free.
How I came up with my values
I asked myself these questions:
1. What do I need the most in my life?
I need simplicity. My interests include trading stocks and starting a business, and both deal with complex systems. My job as a software engineer tackles complexity with complexity. I need simplicity to make sense of the world, and to reduce the cognitive load. This means renting instead of buying a house, making fewer trades on the stock market, and making sense of the world by creating.
2. Consume vs create
I’m a creative person: creating something, even jotting down thoughts, is an enjoyable activity. Consuming too much media, on the other hand, is draining. I consume content from a select few writers and artists. To avoid binging content, I create my own. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, after all.
3. Which type of happiness to optimize for
There are two types of happiness: long-term and short-term. Short-term happiness leads to consumerism: eating a lot, drinking a lot, smoking whatnot. It includes buying unnecessary products: retail therapy works, but only short-term.
Long-term happiness deals with delayed gratification. It’s about minimizing the paycheque while maximizing the retirement account contributions, going to bed early instead of binge-watching YouTube, and exercising instead of window-shopping. It’s about working on personal projects at 6 am and 7 pm instead of binging content. I choose it because the payoff is greater.
Thanks to the pandemic I’ve had time to mull over major decisions. Three values stood out: simplicity, creativity, and long-term happiness. I use them daily for prioritization and planning.
What are your top three values? And how are you living them?