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What I'm reading #13: Live by your values

By Sam Instone - March 31, 2022

We are all busy.

Life happens.

There's always something to distract us from things we know we should do; work, reading more, tennis practise, home renovations...

And with the always-on world we live,  we're constantly bombarded with ‘urgent' emails, not to mention social media.

Our lives have only gotten busier.

Then, something happens.

Usually, this 'something' is the death of someone we know. 

A tragedy which causes us to consider our biggest regrets.

Live a life true to yourself

Bronnie Ware, an Australian nurse who spent several years caring for patients during the last few weeks of their lives, routinely asked them about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently. 

She spoke of the phenomenal clarity of vision that people would gain at the end of their lives and the common themes that surface again and again during these conversations. 

Eventually, she wrote a book titled 'The Top Five Regrets of the Dying'

And, as per her research, the most common regret shared by people nearing death was:

"I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me."

Bronnie continued,

"When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it's easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people have not honoured even half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they made, or not made." 

The starting point for changing your life, so that you're happier and more fulfilled, is to know yourself. 

The roots of your true self are made up of your 'values'. 

Discovering your values

Values are who you are in your own deepest nature, not who you think you should be. 

They are like a compass that points you to 'your true north', giving your life both direction and meaning. 

When your actions match your values, you usually are more satisfied and content. 

But when there is misalignment... 

There can be a real feeling of unhappiness. 

So, how do we discover our values?

One of the ways is to recall moments from your life when you felt happy and fulfilled. 

Was that feeling caused by money, recognition, or achievement?

Or was it caused by love, connection, or kindness?

When you make a list of these moments, you'll also realise the values you live by. 

(On the flip side, make a list of things which annoy you to get to your values). 

You may notice the same ones coming up again and again.

That's okay.

There're two things about values to remember: 

  1. Values are not rules or commandments and they don't need to become rigid or static. They may change and develop over time. 
  2. They must come from you - not copied from someone else.

Find your values and strengthen them. 

It's not easy. 

It requires a willingness to have honest conversations with yourself.

But knowing your values, and then aligning your capital to match, is an incredibly empowering and liberating place to be. 


"Knowing others is intelligence: Knowing yourself is true wisdom"

- Lao Tzu

"Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken."

- Oscar Wilde 

Further reading

The Psychology of Money' by Morgan Housel

What I'm reading #3: Understanding setbacks and life transitions

What I'm reading #4: A powerful force shaping your behaviour

What I'm reading #10: Whatever you are, be kind

Retirement planning for affluent expats: The right balance between spending and saving