Your values form a part of your personality or even your identity, so knowing your values is akin to knowing yourself. What you value certainly constrains the world for you and helps you to pay attention to things that are more important to you. Of course, you can ask yourself what your values are. If you’ve got yourself figured out pretty well, you’ll probably get an accurate answer. However, that’s pretty rare. In fact, if you ask people what they value and then watch their actions, they’ll often be doing exactly the opposite of what they say they value. Folk who work 80 hours a week and rarely see their families but say their families are important to them, for example.
It is of great value to take an audit of your actions to get an idea of what you really value and then get the two in alignment. By raising your consciousness in a certain area you’ll get better awareness of yourself. That’s the idea behind keeping a time log to get more productive. An important area where you want to improve your awareness is in the financial area. How do you make your money and where it goes can tell you a lot about what you implicitly value and what you explicitly value and how to bring them together.
For example, if I looked at a breakdown of where your money goes, what would I find out about you? If I see zero savings or investments and that all your money is coming from a job, I would probably think you’re undisciplined, unfocused and without any goals in this area as well as probably little awareness. If I see disciplined spending in a regular fashion (but also conscious spending in a particular category such as, say, $21,000 a year on going out) I would say that you’re a fairly disciplined, focused and goal-oriented person. On top of that, you’re effective in your fun, too. You’ve figured out what brings you actual enjoyment and you’re doing a lot of it, rather than just watching TV all day which is a fairly low enjoyment activity for most people.
The way I keep an eye on my finances is by using Quicken and a debit card for most expenses. You can also keep a money log of every dollar that goes in and out for a month and be surprised by the results. I simply import my bank’s data every two-three weeks and most of the work is done for me automatically. Then I can review specific areas and decide whether it’s really worth it. Usually takes me about 15 minutes every two-three weeks. An example of a problem area is eating out when I’m on campus. This is a specific problem and I tackled it by keeping some bagels and cream cheese on campus for when I get hungry and bringing more food from home.
If you assume that what you do reflects who you are much better than who you say you are, are you proud of the person you find in your actions? If you aren’t, do you think it’s time to reevaluate some of your actions? Or perhaps you want to change some of your stated values and bring them both in alignment? I garuntee you’ll be happier in alignment.