In our lives as well as our dinner plates, we love to try and cram in too much good stuff. Even as we recognize our need to control our dinner portions, we also need to learn to control our life choices. To do that, we need to slow down long enough and reflect on what is currently fueling our values and influencing our choices. Am I living out my values? What occupies my “plate” at this time in my life?

This is my list of plate-worthy items:

  1. Marriage—loving my husband well
  2. God—being intentional in my walk with God
  3. Work—enjoying a challenging profession
  4. Stewardship—being a good steward of resources I’ve been given
  5. Community—engaging with our church community & empowering others through ministry
  6. Friendship—giving myself and allowing myself to receive love and encouragement in a myriad of relationships
  7. Vision—allowing myself to dream BIG

What a list! I refer to such a list as “My Core 7.”

Many of us walk through this life with full plates. Hopefully, those plates are filled with things that add meaning and allow for intentional living.

Intentional: done on purpose; deliberate

Now it’s your turn: jot down seven things that are important to you—what you currently value most.  Please keep in mind that someone will come along and ask you to add #8…#9…, even #10.  Yikes!  The additions, more than likely, will be good things, and they may be activities or projects you’d love to take on. Take my counsel, stick to seven, which generally represents complete, perfect, finite and manageable.

Here’s the rule: When you do add one, you have to subtract one.  Take a look at your plate and determine if you are willing to replace a current value with the newly presented opportunity.

Okay, that was easy.  Right?!?  The challenge begins when we endeavor to live out our listed values consistently.

Consistently: in every case or on every occasion; invariably

Take a look at “Your Core 7”; select one of the value items and begin to think about ways to keep it in the forefront of living life. For example, loving my husband well might include the following experiences: reading one book together this year (he loves for me to read to him!), committing to quality time together at least twice a month (date night!), and planning a weekend getaway or vacation to encourage connection.  Notice I’m not trying to keep up with daily endless tasks. These overarching goals help me to be intentional!

Living a value-driven life allows one to keep the important things important.  It extends an attractive offer to experience the luxury of balancing the contents of our plate, and enhances creativity as we assign time and space to protect identified priorities.  Over time, and at each life stage, one’s plate may require adjustments.  However, most of us will discover that key values will remain unchanged.

By Jo Lynn Bright, LCMFT, CST, a therapist and the Program Director at HopeNet in Wichita. She loves walking with clients as they determine how to best live out their values. Find out more about Jo Lynn and HopeNet at www.hopenetwichita.org.