Live your values

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There are 24 hours in a day, but some people feel like they have no time at all, while others get their work done and have lots of time to relax and enjoy themselves. Why?

Some people focus their time and energy on what's most important to them and to minimize time spent on things they don't really value.

Want to enjoy your life more? Discover what's really important for you — and organize your life to do those things well.

What do you value?

Everyone has to do certain things, such as fulfilling responsibilities to others. But if your time is to have meaning, it's your own personal vision that must take overall priority. Every few months — or at least once a year — it's important to step back and consider what's most important to you.

Imagine that you're at the end of your life. As you look back, ask yourself:

  • What did I enjoy doing most?
  • What did I appreciate having most?
  • What did I most value accomplishing?
  • What do I wish I had done?

If you're doing something that isn't important for doing and having what you value most, it's likely to be a poor use of your time, no matter how well or efficiently you are getting it done.

Seek a better balance

Yoga classWorking long hours at a particularly stressful job may be necessary to get by, but some people work too much because they desire to achieve a better lifestyle or to prove their self-worth.

When people are surveyed about what's most important to them, they typically:

  • rank family life and a better society above having a nice home, car, or other belongings
  • wish they had more time to socialize with family and friends
  • don't want more time for work or watching TV

Almost no one on his or her death bed ever says, "I wish I had spent more time at work." Ask yourself whether you'd lose or gain by buying and consuming less. Cutting back on work may reduce your income, but it can improve your standard of living in other ways.

Think you might want a different work-life balance? Learn more about reducing job stress.

Source: Adapted with permission from the Healthy Mind, Healthy Body Handbook (as published under the title Mind & Body Health Handbook), David Sobel, MD, and Robert Ornstein, PhD, 1996

Reviewed by: Andrew Bertagnolli, PhD, November 2015
Additional Kaiser Permanente reviewers

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