Many of us spend our lives trying to please others or pursuing goals that others have set for us.  In contrast, the authors of Invest in Yourself, Marc Eisenson, Gerri Detweiler, and Nancy Castleman, advocate the self-designed life—the conscious choice to “invest your time and energy getting what you want and doing what you believe in—not wasting them on things you don’t really want, but think you should have.”  In fact, they wholeheartedly recommend setting the bar high, “no matter what you are aiming for in life.”

The first step to taking charge of your life is clarifying your values and priorities.  The reason this exercise in self-reflection is so powerful is because identifying what is most important to you will increase your self-understanding and strengthen your sense of autonomy.  An excellent resource to help you in this process is Values Clarification by Sidney Simon, Leland Howe, and Howard Kirschenbaum.  This book is described as “the classic guide to discovering your truest feelings, beliefs, and goals.”

In addition, focusing on what is most important to you will keep you on track when making both the big and little decisions in life.  We all have multiple and often conflicting demands on our time, energy, and financial resources.  The right course of action is not always clear unless we view our options in the context of our values and priorities.

As stated by Lou Tice in Smart Talk for Achieving Your Potential, “If you don’t have a hierarchy of values, if you don’t have priorities already in your mind, you don’t know how to make your choices or how to control your reactions.”

As you purposefully and progressively “make room” in your life for what is meaningful to you, the degree of happiness and fulfillment that you experience will grow and multiply. Always keep in mind that the essence of an emancipated life is the freedom and ability to live in such a way as to support your values and priorities.

Reprinted by permission of Money Quotient, NP

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