In my Makahiki letter, I’d said that I love this time of year because it is Ka lā hiki ola (the dawning of a new day) at its most pervasive moment: We human beings collaborate in self-care, and in our Ho‘ohana intentions. The whole world seems to be in sync, as we collectively look back to assess what we’ve come to know. We corral our confidences and our strengths, and then we look forward, expectantly, and with hopeful optimism knowing those confidences and strengths are packable and adjustable: They’ll remain with us, and they’ll remain useful.
Well, in a word, the overwhelm, especially in January’s looking-forward progression. There is a lot to sort through and make decisions about, especially if you try to mix new learning into the batch — it’ll be new learning, and so you’re essentially mixing in batches of unknowns. You’re taking some chances, and turning your resolve into another experiment.
There are two trends I’m seeing, where people are trying to self-manage, get better organized, and habit-create more effectively: Word themes and inputs.
Inputs over Outputs
I’m liking the focus on inputs (your activities: what you actually do) over outputs (the end-result outcomes, like goals and objectives).
We have more control with inputs — as the value of ‘Imi ola reminds us, we create our own destiny with each action we personally take. There are several more variables which will contribute to the success or failure of outputs, and they often have to do with other people, whose decisions (and thus actions) are ultimately out of our control. If the only inputs we can effectively direct and control well are our own, we are wise to concentrate our efforts wherever ‘me, myself, and I’ comes into play.
We may want to include others, so corroboration is a good thing. Thus wouldn’t we be wiser to focus on it as an input? How do we collaborate with others? What are the confidences and strengths of our own behavior, and how will we remain humble and open-minded (Ha‘aha‘a, the value of humility) so we become even better, and continue to grow?
There’s no doubt about it, words are powerful. To state your choices deliberately, and then commit to them can be highly effective — as long as you actually follow through.
The potential problem I am seeing people run into, is in the choice of words they begin with. Many are outputs: health, happiness, wealth. Others are quite broad and need more description: creativity, freedom, organization. Even a word like ‘focus’ is probably too general: What are you going to focus on, and why?
You may say, “It’s a theme, and I know what I mean.” As a coach I’d challenge you on that: Wring out the details and take a good look at them. Are you giving yourself too much wishy-washy wiggle room? Will it be easy for you to abort, and shift your focus day by day? There’s a lot of noise in our world to get distracted by”
You can probably guess where I’m going with this! We all need help with our follow-through, so get your values to help you. That’s actually what they do best.
Choose Values and Verbs as your Inputs and your Words
Roll credits: As we’ve learned from Managing with Aloha, the big deal about values is that they drive our behavior by taking good direction from our self-aware sources.
Your values are the pilot lights of your human goodness, and they start the best fire (energy!) in the actions you choose to take. They are the easiest actions to follow-through with, because they are about you. Your values will reveal you, they fit you, and they celebrate you.
Knowing your personal value-drivers is self-affirming in the most extraordinary way: You learn about yourself, and what’s important to you, and why. You expose your vitality.
Why do you want this learning about you? The more you know about the wonder you are, the closer you get to knowing what you’re meant to do or create: Your Ho‘ohana (intentional work and purpose-driving) will get naturally connected to the work of your legacy.
Reading tip: If MWA has sat on your shelf for a while, open it up to chapter 17 on Nānā i ke kumu for a good review — “Look to your source” for it’s a wonderful place to be.
So do Choose your Words. Speak them often.
Be decisive so you can begin well. Seize January with both hands and with your soul.
Do choose the inputs which are the actions and activities you’ll commit to practicing daily, and allow them to gain traction, and strengthen you with more confidence.
Just be sure your words (or clarifying phrases) are active verbs, and know which of your personal values they are connected to. Beware the wiggle room, and go for that best fit your values will give you.
Fortify your own life, and begin the day-by-day work on the legacy you are meant to give to our world.
We ho‘ohana kākou, and with aloha,
Learn more about value-alignment and value-mapping here: Value Your Month to Value Your Life