Throw out those New Year’s Resolutions. This year, let’s focus on Values

Updated: Jan 9, 2020

The new year usually bring with it new resolutions. But resolutions, once broken as they inevitably are, can be hard to maintain. So today, I’m sharing a different approach: the Values Compass.

An aide for taking informed and reflected decisions over the ever-unpredictable course of life, the Values Compass was recommended to me by the brilliant Negar Tayyar, director of The Global Whole Being Fund, who I’ve had to pleasure to meet and work with whilst on the island of Samos.

I love the Compass and use it to conceptualise my decision-making. It enables me to recall and visualise in just one hand a set of core values that I wish to guide me. In a values-fluid world where competing rhetorics, social pressures and distractions can sometimes leave us feeling adrift on the widest of seas, the Compass orientates us, brings clarity of direction and a sense of purpose.

Every 3 months, I pick 5 values I wish to work on. They are chosen to focus my attention on personal behaviours that I’m unhappy with. (It is worth noting that I interpret values with wild abstraction.) For instance, last quarter, these values included Movement, Levity, Positive Communication, Presence and Creativity.

Key to the process is ensuring that the chosen values aren’t resolutions. For instance, ‘practising guitar every day’, doesn't work for me. That’s no more than a very specific habit you wish to cultivate. What’s wrong with it? It doesn’t address the more fundamental and reflected existential change you wish to see. It’s also too specific to offer broader orientation throughout to day-to-day life.

Instead, within the Values Compass, a chosen value such as a Creativity may be strategised and cultivated through habits such as ‘practising guitar’, but might also include reading, listening to music and any number of other actions. Embracing a wider focus on Creativity keeps the mind attentive to the root motivation: here, the celebration of creativity in its holistic aspects.

As I venture into 2020, my first 3 months will find orientation according to a new Compass. My chosen values broadly focus on helping to maintain a positive balance between intensive work and life. They include: Vitality, Caring Expression, Mindful Consumption, Acceptance and Impactful Work.

To offer something up, I'm sharing below the first outcome of the Mindful Consumption value. With recommendations from friends, I've drawn up a reading list of 10 books. I'll be working through these books - mindfully! - enjoying the diversity and breadth of what's been suggested!

  1. In the Sea There are Crocodiles - Fabio Geda - recommended by Lutz

  2. Burmese Days - George Orwell - recommenced by Nick

  3. Essays in Love - Alain de Botton - recommended by Liz

  4. De Meeste Mensen Deugen - Rutger Bregman (English trans. pending) - recommended by Kayin

  5. The Body Keeps Score - Bessel Van der Kolk - recommended by Michele

  6. An American Marriage - Tayari Jones - recommended by Sophia

  7. My Brother Jack - George Johnston - recommended by Ozlem

  8. Le Comte de Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas - recommended by Antoine

  9. Education - Tara Westover - recommended by Jade

  10. Find Me - Andre Aciman - recommended by me!