Helping the Chronically Overworked Find Life Balance

Change Your Values To Change Your Priorities


Values Drive Priorities Which In Turn Influence The Underlying Values

Chapter 1: My Corporate Idolatry Part 6

My insight on Yom Kippur set off a chain of dominos.  Once I recognized my Corporate Idolatry, I saw the world in this new way and there was no going back.

In the past, I had unsuccessfully tried to make changes in my priorities.  It didn’t last.  Over time I went back to the same behaviors.

This time, I went a step further, and changed my values.  My family and my health had to come before the company, and low and behold the priorities in my life changed.  It didn’t happen overnight, but over time it added up to some pretty big things.  Even when I was working close to one hundred hours a week, I ate breakfast and dinner with my family every day.  It was a line in the sand, a boundary I never crossed, and its nature as an absolute rule served as a model for the additional changes to come.

I made a conscious choice to work fewer hours.  Instead of thinking in a negative way, beating myself up to work less, I focused on the positive.

My health is important.  I need to stop working by 9:30, so I have time to wind down and get to sleep.

Then it became I need to stop working by 9, so my wife and I can spend some time together. 

Although I didn’t realize it at the time, choosing an action that reinforces a value is a virtuous cycle, because the action itself reinforces the value, making it easier to take a similar action the next time. I will discuss this at greater length latter in the book.

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  1. Greg Marcus says

    If you like this post, please email it to a friend.
    Or, send them all of Chapter 1: My Corporate Idolatry

  2. Greg, great thoughts. I think this is a key realization for change. I’ve spent twelve years trying to change priorities in my marriage and work life, but those changes never stuck. I think now that was because I wasn’t addressing my values. The values that lie deep within us shape our priorities and thus our actions. Trying to change priorities or even actions without addressing the heart is like wishing you could get clean water out of a well without doing anything to investigate why the water in the well is dirty. It’s going to take someone going down into the well to make a repair!

    I was disturbed when I was presented with the idea that I was already living out my values. That my life–even the ugly parts–was being shaped by my choices, and those choices were coming from my real values. Getting in deep to understand and identify these deep motivations in me has given me access to shift things that I’ve never had before.

    The coolest thing was to get a Father’s Day card yesterday from my wife acknowledging the real changes she’s seeing in me. That hasn’t happened in a long time. It’s great!

    • Greg Marcus says

      Dear Marc,
      Congrats on getting that feedback from your wife! I am a firm believer in the old saying “to change the world, change yourself.” As you have made changes in yourself, they ripple out and make life better for those around you. I’m really happy for you.


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