How to know what you really value.

I bet if I asked you right now what you value most, you’d think for a moment and be able to rattle off the things that are truly important to you.

But how would you know that what you say is true? Just saying that you value something doesn’t make it so. So really, how would you know?

Turns out it’s a great time of year for figuring that out. Not only is it Spring, which is a time of new beginnings and fresh starts, but you either just did your taxes or you’re about to do them. (check out my post that will help you love doing your taxes)

As you look back at your year financially, that will give you one aspect of what you value. You spend your money on things you value, whether you claim them on your taxes or not. If you’ll also look back over your calendar of the last year you’ll get another clear sign of what you value – how you spent your time.

If you say you value something, but don’t spend any energy on it – money, time or other, it probably isn’t something you truly value. It’s a nice concept. Something you care about, something you think you should value, but not truly one of your core values.

If you say you really value time with your family, but your calendar is chock a block full of work, it could be you actually value your work more. There’s no right or wrong with this. It’s just an opportunity to get to your truth. Maybe you have to work most of the time to provide just the basics for your family. You value providing for your family most. If however, your family has much more than they need, you may value your work, and the stuff it provides, more than time with them. There is no right or wrong. Just an opportunity to get clear.

If you value nature, did you get outside much? You value human rights, did you contribute to causes with your time or money? You value your health, did you spent your money on good food and time cooking, moving and getting enough sleep?

If you look over your calendar and your finances you’ll get a pretty clear view of where your values were last year. If you’re surprised to see that how you spent your time and money don’t line up with what you really value, you’ve just become conscious of a disconnect in your life. Now you have the opportunity to align your actions with your values and decrease stress.

Knowing what you truly value right now, (values change over time), and aligning your actions with your values can help you overcome guilt that you “should” value something else. You value what you value. There is no right or wrong.

And if you haven’t done your taxes yet. Here’s a way to elevate the experience.

The Joy of Paying Taxes

It’s a wonderful time of year. The weather is warming, birds are singing, flowers are blooming… and taxes are calling.

For many people tax season is a time they feel depressed, angry, stressed, resentful or afraid. It’s so ingrained in our culture to hate paying taxes that we assume feeling like sh*t is normal. But it doesn’t have to be.

How about this year, as an act of radical self care, you make paying taxes a joy?

Before you dismiss that as impossible, consider this: Paying taxes doesn’t cause you stress, or fear, or resentment. It’s your attitude about it that creates it.

Worrying about the work it will take to get everything organized, putting it off until the last minute, avoiding paying because you don’t have the money will all create unnecessary stress. You are better off dedicating time to do it and diving in.

Avoiding your responsibilities will never bring long term joy and peace, but being responsible won’t guarantee it either. You need to handle it differently than just “getting it done”.

Consider for a moment what would elevate tax day from a dreaded chore to a beloved task or curious adventure. Would you do it with someone else – invite a friend, each take a corner of the living room, put on some music, open a bottle of wine and make a day of it? Take a moment and think about anything that might make this year’s tax filing different from all the rest. How can you turn your focus from the result to the process?

I turn it into an annual ritual. Rituals have a way of deeming actions as special, important, spiritual. They suspend the ordinariness of the activity and set it apart as sacred. By creating a ritual I turn taxes into a sacred act, worthy of respect and presence.

In preparation for doing my taxes:

  • I work alone, when the house is empty.
  • I clear the space so I’m not distracted.
  • I add flowers for beauty and fragrance.
  • I light a candle.
  • I say a prayer to give thanks and ask for focus.
  • I keep a note book to record any insights I glean from reviewing my year.

While I’m doing my taxes:

  • As I record income, I give thanks for the money I’ve made.
  • Reviewing expenses, I remember and bless the people I’ve paid.
  • I am grateful for the money I’ve spent and the contributions it’s made to people and places.
  • I am literally counting my blessings as I work.
  • I consider if I’ve made the best choices, and if not I record the the changes I’ll make this year.
  • I remember good times and challenges I’ve faced. I write down ideas and inspirations that come with them.
  • Even if I don’t love all the choices my government makes, I focus on the contribution I am making to society.

Paying quarterly is just an expense, but April is a time of reckoning. It brings clarity, and where there is clarity there is power. I can see where I am at and make informed choices.

One of the things that makes tax time easy is that I set tax money aside from each payment I receive, so it’s available and waiting to be used. If you haven’t set the money aside that you need, don’t let that be an excuse to shove your problems in a dark closet and hope they’ll go away. They’ll only grow into haunting problems the like monsters in the closet of your childhood bedroom. Do your taxes, make a plan to pay it over time, and set yourself up differently this year.

What is one simple thing you can do that will bring more joy to the process of paying your taxes this year?

You can’t avoid it so you might as well enjoy it. Try this, and you can learn a lot about yourself in the process.