top of page

How to Save Time and Energy by Finding Your Essential Values

Updated: Jul 25, 2023

Ever watch a hamster on a wheel and thought, “That’s my life—going round and round, but getting nowhere.” Today we’ll address that. Today we’ll trade in your wheel for a Thoroughbred stallion and then race ahead to achieve your most treasured goals.

First, why do we stay on that hamster-wheel of life—even when we know it’s counterproductive? In a word: habits. Unfortunately, habits are hard to change. A study in the European Journal of Psychology said that making or breaking a habit takes between 18 and 254 days. On average it takes 66 days for a new habit to become automatic. And the longer we stay on that wheel, the harder we run to nowhere, and the tougher the habit is to break. Want to stop exhaustion and start satisfaction? One solution? Subtraction.

The Word for 2022

To stop old habits and start good ones, try REALLY condensing your life into a one or two-word value(s) to guide you in 2022. That’s what I’m doing. My words: “Streamline” and “Simplify.”

wordle for core values

Instead of expanding my to-do list, I’m reducing it to the bare essentials. In 2022 I will only do what I know will work and will further my goals. I don’t need all the “shiny objects” and activities I thought were sure to transform my life—but didn’t. So, this year I’m ditching them.

It’s a byproduct of the squirrel mentality where we run back and forth collecting things to try—whether they’re meant for us or not. It’s antithetical to focus, and it’s holding you—just like me—back. So, what word(s) could refocus your life? What word could guide you to increased productivity and happiness? Note: this does not mean that when you are problem-solving you can’t try new ideas. It simply means that you free yourself from the activities you do that aren’t working.

Choosing Your Word

When you have a myriad of activities, how do you choose which define the essence and which put you back on that hamster wheel? How do you choose your Thoroughbred? Start with your values. It’s not always easy to define them. Start by identifying the things most precious to you in life. What’s sacred to you? WHY? Your answers help define you. Now, condense those answers into key words.

Next, consider your habits. Ask yourself which are vital, and which are futile time-suckers. Eliminate what does not propel you forward. Now, start watching your free time expand. What joy. What freedom. Talk about living in the moment. Can you feel it? Can you name it?

Recruit a Friend or a Coach

The next step can be painful—but in a good way. Engage a coach, or a trustworthy, savvy friend who will be brutally honest with you, to examine your activities. Let them ask you why you do them, and what they accomplish. Ohhhhh, touchy. However, it’s tough questions that take you outside yourself to evaluate how—and why—you live as you do. Scary—at first.

The key question is, “What do you achieve doing that?” If you can’t answer quickly...maybe that activity is sucking your time but doing nothing for you.

Meanwhile, think freedom and an easier life. Each time you drop something, you give yourself more time to do what you love. You are closer to finding your essence and your values. Your “word” is coming into view.

Next Step: Things and Systems

I knew my offices needed a thorough cleaning—and maybe even reorganizing. But I decided outside influence might provide new insights and lead me to an even better-organized office. So, an independent contractor is going to have at it. She’ll evaluate and suggest ideas to enhance productivity and efficiency. She may suggest drastic changes, and I’ll be open to them. Improvements are always welcome. Those outside eyes will see what I’ve been blind to, just as with my needless activities. And it’s all part of my “Streamline and Simplify” values.

A Second Opinion

Think of healthcare—we don’t hesitate a second opinion when it’s serious. How about your life and your systems? Could you benefit from a second opinion? Whether a friend or a coach, consider the value of someone nudging you to take a second look at how you live. Consider listening to someone who may see that hamster wheel going full throttle. Now how about their help finding you that Thoroughbred stallion that will race you forward on a laser-focused path to success?

My coaching focuses not just on doing the right things, but vital accountability to ensure clients act. For example, one client wants to practice the piano three times a week. To ensure she does, I set my phone alarm for 7:00 PM on agreed-upon days. Then I text her and ask if she has practiced yet. It helps her commit to her dreams and ensures her practice becomes an automatic habit. A simple thing, really. But it works.

If you don’t have a trusted, capable friend to assist and hold you accountable, maybe it’s time for a coach. I’m eager to help you succeed. For more information on my coaching, visit:


bottom of page