A values-driven life

Hello, friends. Just a quick note to let you all know that my life, at last, seems to be settling. A full two months after the death of my mother, the fog has lifted and I find that I’m motivated to pursue productive pursuits once more.

I spent much of the past several weeks doing some serious soul-searching. It’s clear to me (and to Kim) that above all else, I need to make 2023 the year of me.

2023 — The Year of Me

More than a decade ago, I got into the habit of theming my years and months. It was fun! It was also fruitful. Whenever I decided to devote a span of time to one thing, I had great results, whether it was with fitness or writing or dating. This habit of theming lasted for a couple of years, then fell by the wayside.

Well, I’ve spent too long putting myself second. Or third. Or ninth. Starting yesterday, my aim is to put myself first for the next year (or more).

This is tough for me. It seems selfish. It seems wrong. But the truth is I’ve been allowing other things to interfere with my pursuit of physical and mental health for too long. I’ve been making excuses. No more! For the foreseeable future, J.D. is job one. Let the age of selfishness commence!

The truth is, of course, that by putting myself first I’m almost certain to become a better person for others — including you. I get that this is so (and, in fact, it’s advice I often give to others), but I’ve been unable to act on the knowledge for too long.

Anyhow, I suspect there’ll be no real change for you, the readers of Get Rich Slowly. The change will mostly be inside of me. I’m giving myself permission to put my needs and desires ahead of everything else for 2023, but I’m almost certain that’ll translate into more fodder for articles around here. And, at long last, completion of the site de-design.

But as part of this Year of Me, I’m deliberately not holding myself to any sort of publishing or production schedule around here. If I have something to say, I’ll say it. If not, I won’t force anything. The post you’re reading is a good example: I just finished another Designing Your Life exercise and have a bit of free time before a call with a friend, so I decided to share a quick update.

Again, this is largely a change inside of me, and I know it. But it’s an important change.

The Courage to Be Disliked

For Thanksgiving, Kim and I drove to California to visit her brother’s family. To pass the time, we listened to The Courage to Be Disliked by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumtitake Koga. This book (which really ought to be titled The Courage to Be Happy) explores the worldview of psychologist Alfred Adler.

The Courage to Be Disliked is packed with loads of wisdom. (I found myself frustrated that I couldn’t highlight passages in an audiobook!) Gems such as these:

  • People fabricate anger.
  • Learn to live without being controlled by your past.
  • Unhappiness is something you choose.
  • People generally choose not to change.
  • Your life exists in the here and now. (Echoes of Eckhart Tolle, yes?)
  • All problems are interpersonal relationship problems.
  • Life is not a competition.
  • Admitting fault is not defeat.
  • Deny the desire for recognition. (Hey! It’s like having a lack of ambition!)
  • Discard other people’s tasks. (In other words, set and maintain healthy boundaries.)
  • Freedom is being disliked by other people.
  • You are not the center of the world.
  • The goal of interpersonal relationships is a sense of community.
  • Do not rebuke or praise. (This one was a big revelation for both me and Kim.)
  • Exist in the present. (Eckhart Tolle again.)
  • Excessive self-consciousness stifles the self.
  • Don’t pursue self-affirmation; pursue self-acceptance.
  • The essence of work is a contribution to the common good.
  • Have the courage to be normal.
  • Life is a series of moments.

I realize that a lot of those statements probably make zero sense without context. They made zero sense to us too until we listened to the explanations.

I’ll be re-reading The Courage to Be Disliked in Kindle format. Well, I’ll skim it anyhow, searching for the best bits. The book is written like a Socratic dialogue, which is both good and bad. For the purposes of re-reading, I don’t need (or want) to sit through most of the conversation. I’m seeking only the best bits.

It’s very possible that I’ll publish a full review/summary of the book here at Get Rich Slowly in the future.

A Values-Driven Life

To wrap things up, here’s a quote that came up in my Readwise highlights today. I bookmarked this months ago, but it hit home as especially relevant for where I am in this moment:

“The ability to subordinate an impulse to a value is the essence of a proactive person. Reactive people are driven by feelings, by circumstances, by conditions, by their environment. Proactive people are driven by values — carefully thought about, selected, and internalized values.”

— Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

One reason I’ve reached a place where I need a Year of Me is that I’ve somehow lost the ability to control my impulses while simultaneously forgetting about my core values. Time to flip the script! I’d already begun to take steps to rein in my impulses — I’ve uninstalled Reddit and Hearthstone from my iPad, for instance — and now it’s time to start putting my values into practice again.

That’s all I have for you today. I’ll be back soon with more, I’m sure, but it might be something short. Or it might be something more conversational…like this. (Really, with what I envision going forward, each of the three sections of this post would have been its own separate article.)

I’m not giving up on longer, focused articles. But for now, for the Year of Me, blog posts like this seem right.

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There are 10 comments to "A values-driven life".

  1. Sam @ Financial Samurai says 02 December 2022 at 18:26

    Sounds good to me! I did a review of the book, Courage To Be Disliked, and my biggest takeaway was “the separation of tasks.”

    I haven’t felt the need to be loved for many many years already. And it is very freeing. I think this type of attitude just naturally happens with age and contentment.


    • J.D. Roth says 02 December 2022 at 20:12

      The “separation of tasks” thing (or, maintaining proper boundaries) is huge. I’ve heard people talk about this all my life, but never actually seen it explained in a way that makes sense until this book. Now I get it. For the past week, Kim and I have been commenting to each other, “not my task” whenever somebody (family or otherwise) expects us to do something out of obligation. It’s amazing how freeing this is. It seems obvious in hindsight, but I’ve been doing things for other people all my life.

      I also like how this contrasts with the whole community-focused aspect of the book. The author encourages readers to seek happiness by serving others, but that’s not the same as taking on their “tasks”. It’s finding a way to be useful to the common good while also fulfilling your personal goals/desires. It’s not giving up yourself to serve others. I like that.

  2. David Weller says 03 December 2022 at 08:50

    I like this post very much. My wife died this past week, after a lengthy illness, and you’ve given me a lot to think about.

    • Kristen says 03 December 2022 at 19:27

      David, I don’t know you but I am so sorry for your loss. Take care.

    • J.D. Roth says 04 December 2022 at 10:47

      My condolences, David. And best wishes as you take time to think about life and try to find a way forward.

  3. Janette says 06 December 2022 at 05:35

    Self actualization is not an unusual step in life. It is not selfish, it is sustaining. Most embark on the journey once they are orphans in my world.
    The belief that if your needs are fully cared for your ability to love is far greater. I believe that the more you care for yourself the more likely you are able to give. Study, care of body, investigation of talents- all a part of being able to grow to be whole. Be careful though, self obsession is not the same thing and rarely brings happiness/contentment. So while you look to fill your bucket you might look for somewhere to tip your full bucket towards. God’s speed on your journey.

    • Anne says 06 December 2022 at 12:28

      Very well said.

  4. J$ says 06 December 2022 at 07:39

    Love it, brother. The Year of J.D.!

  5. Adam of Magical Penny says 07 December 2022 at 06:20

    Wishing you the best for your year of J.D. Life is about serial reinvention, it seems and I think you do well to realise when you need to ‘even the keel’ to get back to balance.

  6. Larry Ludwig says 15 December 2022 at 12:04

    How very rational egoistic of you 🙂

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