There’s immense value in living in alignment. You’ve heard the saying, “Stand for something, or fall for anything.” When you’re clear on what your personal mission, values, and goals are, you know what you stand for, and what you stand against. You have clarity around what’s most important to you, and what’s not.
The opposite is living a life without principles, vision, or direction. It’s following popular opinion and emotional whims.
Living in alignment means we’re living by our top priorities. Our lives are full of tradeoffs- when we decide to do one thing, we forego another. Making those decisions based on our most important goals and values positions us for long-term success.
So how do we arrange our lives so we’re aligned with our mission, values, and goals? That’s what I’m going to share with you.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- What living in alignment means
- How to live in alignment
Let’s get started.
What living in alignment means
We want to live significant lives and get the most out of the time we have.
Our most important resources of time, attention, and money are finite. When we decide to do one thing, we’re deciding not to do something else. We’re constantly making tradeoffs. When we live in alignment, our odds of making the correct decisions increase.
It means having a personal (or family) mission statement, and being crystal clear on your goals and values. Those things serve as your criteria for making decisions about how to spend your resources.
The benefits of living in alignment
What’s in it for you? Why do this?
You optimize your life by making the best possible decisions. It’s wise to weigh decisions based on what’s most important to us.
When you live in alignment, it becomes easier to say “yes” and “no” to things. For example, when your budget is aligned, you know what you spend money on, and what you don’t. You may prioritize experiences over possessions, so you allocate your money accordingly.
We all suffer from decision fatigue; it’s estimated we make over 35,000 decisions every day. When we live in alignment, it becomes easier to decide.
The only way to live how you want is to know how you want to live. The more we can prioritize how we spend our time, attention, and money, the closer we get to living our best lives.
How to live in alignment
You need to figure out what you believe in, tell the world by sharing your personal mission statement, and then testify every day through the choices you make.
Failing to establish expectations leads to problems. This is true in business, relationships, and every other area of life.
It may be a smart financial decision for you to work on Saturdays, but that decision could make your family upset. To avoid upsetting your family, talk about the greater benefit working on Saturday will bring to your family. Together, you can decide that you’ll work for four hours on Saturday morning, and spend the rest of the day together.
Again, life is a series of tradeoffs. When you do one thing, you can’t do something else. In the previous example, deciding to pursue professional goals over time with family may be the best decision, but it’s imperative you talk it through with your loved ones.
When you do this, everyone gets on the same page. You avoid miscommunication and hurt feelings.
And this is true for every aspect of your life. So how do you decide which activities to prioritize? That’s where a cost-benefit analysis comes in.
Businesses use cost-benefit analysis to decide if it makes sense to move forward with a project. It’s a useful tool that estimates how easily a project can be completed and if it’s worth doing.
It’s helpful in deciding which projects should get resources, and which shouldn’t. It helps prioritize.
Using cost-benefit analysis in our personal lives makes sense. When we’re considering spending time, attention, or money on something, we can quickly run an analysis to help us make our decision.
Step 1. Identify the project scope. Start by defining the question or problem you’re trying to solve. We’ll use your summer vacation as an example. Where will you go? Will you do a staycation, drive to another state, or travel internationally? What are the benefits you’ll receive? From there, you’ll take into consideration all required resources.
Step 2. Determine the costs. There are four costs to take into consideration:
- Direct costs- Expenses directly related to your project (Gas, plane tickets, hotels, food).
- Indirect costs- Fixed expenses (Time away from work so potentially reduced income).
- Intangible costs- Costs difficult to measure directly (Time away from school, extracurricular activities, a break in habits and routines).
- Opportunity costs- Costs of choosing one thing over another (A staycation will cost less money, but the benefits of experiencing international travel and different cultures is also valuable).
Step 3. Give each cost and benefit a dollar value. Create your full list of costs and benefits. While it is difficult to assign a dollar value to intangible costs, make your best estimate.
Step 4. Compare your findings. If the benefits outweigh the costs, you have a business case for moving forward. If they don’t, you may decide to not pursue the project.
After conducting the cost benefit analysis on your family’s summer vacation, you may decide the benefits of international travel outweigh the costs (or vice versa). Either way, you’ve gone through a valuable process of weighing your options and making an informed decision.
You want a significant life today, and a significant life 40 years from now. As you’re deciding and allocating resources, you’ll benefit from keeping your mission, goals, and values top of mind.
Arranging your life according to your priorities is an integral part of living in alignment.
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