Have You Written Out Your Family Values?

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Published by Robert W. Huntley, CFP®, CHFC®, CKA® Founder & Wealth Advisor

My youngest is twenty-two and lives in Nashville, TN.  He called recently asking me to send him the list of the family values we kept on the refrigerator when he was growing up.

I hung up the phone and smiled. He remembered them and it mattered to him.

I got the idea originally from a college buddy who had risen to become CEO of a major Houston based oil company by his mid-forties. He married and had children later in life and I asked if he was concerned that his children were growing up with a lifestyle so different from his own.

He replied that it did, so he and his wife intentionally crafted a list of family values to keep visible around the house so they could have conversations about their values more often.

I liked that idea and took the next few months thinking about my core values and how to easily remember them, but more on that below.

The exercise was helpful for me personally. It forced me to get clear about what I believed to be true and of the highest value in life. It feels similar to writing a book. When you force yourself to make decisions on paper, it tends to focus the mind and will.

I have discovered over the years three key steps that can help move us from confusion towards greater personal freedom and impact. Those are Clarity, Simplicity, and Release.

Writing down your core values is part of getting clarity about who you are, what matters to you, and why. It brings focus and serves as a filter for all your decision making.

I remember reading years ago a saying that went something like this:

  • Sow a THOUGHT, reap a deed.
  • Sow a deed, reap a habit.
  • Sow a habit, reap a lifestyle.
  • Sow a lifestyle, reap a LIFE.
  • If you want to change your LIFE, begin with your THOUGHTS.

The Bible puts it like this;

Romans 12:2 “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Your mind is your most valuable asset. Entire fortunes have come from a single idea.

Family trees can be altered for generations by one enlightened man or woman deciding to place a flag in the ground for what the family will stand for and live out. Without clarity, we tend to drift; we make decisions more by default, less by design.

It’s also true that generations quickly forget those who came before them. Take a look at your old family photos. Once you go back two generations ask yourself, “how much do you know about those faces you see?” Do you even know their names much less understand what shaped them into who they were?

We all want to make an impact in life, to leave some sort of legacy. Writing down your strongest held values and beliefs is one way to inform and influence future generations.

Here’s the list of values I landed on, easily recalled by the acronym SHORE.

  • Stewardship – God owns it. I manage it and stand accountable to Him.
  • Humility – Everything is a gift and I don’t know everything. Be grateful & listen.
  • Optimism – Always look for the good in others & circumstances.
  • Responsibility – No excuses. No finger-pointing.
  • Excellence – You can always improve. Your real competition is your own potential.

If you’ve never done this, try it out. Spend some time thinking about what you believe and value deep down in your bones. Write it down and come up with a clever way to remember it and communicate it to your family members.

With greater clarity, you’ll be on your way to greater personal freedom and impact.

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