19Mon

A moment of pause: short-term decisions versus values-based decisions

balancing-stones

 

In a fast-pace world that promotes multitasking and maintaining constant connections with others, it is increasingly difficult for many of us to find down time to unwind from the stresses that we have accumulated from work and our interpersonal lives. There is no doubt that the increased use of digit communications such as emails, Internet messengers, and social media has brought us closer than ever before. We can write to each other in an instant and send it away without having to wait till the postal office to open the next day to send a mail out. We can call our friends and let them know that we are running late for our meet up instead of having them worrying. We can work on a project together with our colleagues over the cloud. Yet, all the convenience of modern technologies have also made it more challenging to balance the various aspects of our lives from time to time. How do we negotiate with ourselves with the things that must be done? What are some short-term benefits and long-term consequences of making those decisions? After all, it can be very tempting to open that work email when you are at your kid’s baseball game in the middle of an inning. It can be just as tempting to check our messages from our boss while you are enjoying your vacation with your loved ones. How do we restore this balance in our lives so that we are more prepared to tackle the many challenges ahead of us?

Our behaviors serve many purposes with benefits and consequences. What seems to be beneficial in the short-term can result in long-term consequences. For example, we can drink coffee after dinner to temporary increase our energy level to plow through our work. This is the short-term benefit, however, we may have to suffer the consequences of having a restless night because caffeine has been indicated to disrupt quality of sleep. This is an example of some of the dilemmas that we find ourselves encountering in life. You can use the model below to slow down your thought process and think about the benefits and the consequences. Below is a visual of the model based on above example.

The Antecedents-Behaviors- Consequences

Antecedents (What led up to the Dilemma?) Behaviors (This includes thoughts and actions) Consequences
After Dinner, feeling fatigue, low energy, sleepy “I have lots of work to do.” “Must stay awake.”

Drink Espresso

Short-term Benefit: I stay awake and get my work done. Woohoo.

 

Delayed Consequences: Poor quality of sleep, feeling groggy the next day, fatigue, loss of concentration.

How do we choose?

You can choose based on the short-term benefits, or your goals, or the ideal outcome of a given situation. But, what about choosing based on your values? values small

What are Values?

According to Hayes et al. (1999), values are motivational factors in our lives. Values are freely chosen ideas and qualities that move us toward something that is important to us as a person living with chose purposes. One helpful way to look at value is to think of it as a life compass. When we are lost in the woods, we take out a compass to guide us back to the path. Similarly, values restore our sense of directions and motivate us to construct a meaningful life even when there are obstacles or adversities up ahead. If you are interested in exploring your values, please visit the following website.

http://integrativehealthpartners.org/downloads/Values_Questionnaire.pdf

Once you have identified your live compass (values), it is important to take steps in those directions. Some people make flashcards out of them while others have them on their phones. However you do it, it is important to review them when you find yourself thinking about what important actions to take, such as deciding whether you continue working long hours or you go to hangout with friends.

Quick question for you: when feeling tired, exhausted, are you going to make decisions based on the short-term benefits of that given moment or based on what truly matters to you in life?

** Sources:
Hayes, S. C., Strosahl, K. D., & Wilson, K. G. (1999). Acceptance and commitment therapy: An experiential approach to behavior change. New York: Guilford Press.