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Soulful Sundays: The Precedent-ial Debate

"How you do anything is how you do everything." -Martha Beck

If I were to ask you to give me a list of the things that you value most, what would you include? Now, if I were to ask you how you actually spend your time each week, would the two lists agree or differ? Sure, our values should and do shape our actions, but often times they are at odds. We can tell what someone values by what they repeatedly do--by the precedents they set in their lives.

Somewhere in my thirties, I made the decision that I would intentionally exercise every day. On days I had more time and energy, I would do more, and on days I had less, I would do the bare minimum. The point was to make the habit so ingrained that it was no different from waking up every day. Thus, when viewed by my actions alone, you could conclude that I valued my health. I have established similar precedents with nutrition, hydration, sleep, and recovery time. While all of these are seemingly self-centered, they are the backbone for being able to fully offer yourself to your work and to others.

We will all trip and fall on our way to fully living by our values. Perfection is not the goal. Social and developmental factors play an enormous role in how we behave, especially during conflict. Remember, because of our free will, we all have more control over our world than we might have convinced ourselves of otherwise. If you are able to change a single action today, then you have the ability to change your trajectory. And that power is truly precious.

So, when you look at how you are spending your time and attention and you are less than satisfied, make the following commitment: find the easiest action that you can repeatedly do and make it a rule henceforth. For example, if you want to exercise every day, begin with intentionally walking (or something similar) for five minutes (or less) every day. You can always add more as you go. You are on your way. There is no more debate. The precedent has been set.

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