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Governing Values

Last time I wrote, I talked about how I was getting into using a planner to prioritize my days’ tasks and my short and long term goals. Part of this whole thing involves basing my priorities on the things I really believe in and the person I want me to be. My “governing values.”

This is something, maybe, that a lot of folks do automatically, but I doubt it. I know very few folks who actively live their proclaimed principles. That’s what this is about… setting the bar for myself and living it.

Governing Values are meant to be a combination of things you think you are, things you want to be, and things others consider you to be. They’re a goal in and of themselves, really.

Here are mine.

1. I am truthful.

This means I don’t lie, and I’m honest with my opinions. This is more of a challenge than you might think… we live in a culture where small fibs and white lies are encouraged. Just the other day, I spaced out and thought I was due at work an hour later than I was scheduled. When I got there, my peers all agreed (without my prompting) that it was no big deal and that they would cover for me with our boss. It was automatic for them to lie about it, and very nearly automatically for me to go along with it. Then I remembered that “I am truthful” is my first Governing Value. I told my work friends that I would let our boss know what I had done. When I did, we had a laugh about it. If I had lied about it and was later found out, I don’t think my boss would have been laughing.

Being honest with my opinions means not just letting people know what I think in a respectful and tactful manner — it means being honest with myself as well! This means, essentially, walking the talk when it comes to things I believe in. It means, to me, speaking out and acting when I encounter injustice, inequity, or unethical behavior. I expect it might make me some enemies. I also expect it’s make me even more allies.

2. I am actively creative.

I call myself a writer, and I call myself a musician. Being actively creative means creating actively — writing things, playing music. Making creation an integral part of my life, not an occasional hobby.

I’ve taken nearly a year of time to step back from making music — this was a conscious decision, a kind of “reset” for my talent. That time is over. As far as writing, this is more an issue of insecurity and a lack of discipline. What I do know is this: once I start writing, it flows and it feels great. It’s like a full-body workout, inside and out.

There are self-imposed deadlines involved with this — I have two columns that I write, one for Multiverse and one for Writers Unbound, so I have to do those on a regular basis. I’ve also given myself this year to finish my first novel, and I may submit a serial novel to a new webzine. Deadlines are good.

3. I am positive, and reject negativity.

Man, I tell you what, I have no place in my life for people that don’t think I can do something, or who judge me on my past. Fuck ’em. I know what I’m capable of, and I only want to hear from people who will stand beside me and support my choices. That’s all there is to that.

4. I respect and nurture loved ones.

I have come to face the fact that I suck as a son, an uncle, and a brother. It will be a challenge to figure out how to turn this around, or what it means, exactly. I know this — I have never believed that blood was thicker than water… I consider my close friends to be more “blood” than relatives I have little in common with. So maybe my challenge is to make my blood into friends.

5. I am financially independent.

Not yet I’m not, but this is an ongoing goal since last year. I want the freedom to do my art without, as Peter Fonda once said, “being hassled by the man!” I want to quit my day job, dammit.

6. I am organized.

Making good progress on this one! I’ve been faithfully executing the use of my planner since before the New Year. I’ve already reorganized my office, and a couple more bookcases over the next few paychecks will complete the job. Feels good!

7. I have an active, enriching social life.

I don’t make much time for this as it is, so I’m looking for opportunities and forcing myself to not be a lazy ass when they come up.

8. I am a friend.

That means I make time for people who need me. I’ve withdrawn from folks over the last year or so… it’s time to open up again.

9. I am physically fit.

Working out three times a week! It’s actually the first thing I do on those days … and it’s kicking my ass in a good way.

10. I am charitable.

Every month, I’m going to give some small amount of money or time to a worthy cause… most likely music or writing related. This is the kind of stuff that the world repays.

Some folks might consider this whole thing a little corny. Go ahead — but I challenge you to consider what you really believe in. Consider what kind of person you think you are, and compare that with reality. Then try doing something about it! It’s an exhausting process, figuring it all out, but I’m going to be a stronger, better, more productive human being because of this cheesy exercise.


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