Staying True to Your Principles & Values

No, this post isn’t about selling out as a writer. And it’s not about sleeping your way to the top, either. It’s about procrastination.

“What?” I hear you ask. “What does procrastination have to do with principles or values?” I’m glad you asked.

Three times a week I have a conversation with my business coach where I make promises for the next time I see him. If I don’t keep my promises, I pay more … but none of the money goes to him. And last week was an expensive week. So naturally, there was a lot for us to talk about.

He pointed out that I don’t break my word when it comes to, say, not cheating on my wife. But when it comes to some lame-ass task that “needs” to be done, my word suddenly doesn’t mean much anymore. In other words, I have principles and values that have me honor my word in certain areas of my life, but not in others.

So I started looking at that. Where are the places that I honor my word religiously? Where don’t I honor my word, and what am I honoring instead, in those moments?

I’ve started a list:

  • Enjoying life
  • Honoring and respecting relationships
  • Being admired
  • Being an inspiration
  • Providing value
  • Not screwing people (I’m trying to come up with a way to say this that isn’t a negative, but right now this is what I got)

Any time I don’t honor my word in one place, it’s usually because it was supplanted by another one of my values (read: enjoying life). What’s powerful about this is that now, in those moments when I don’t want to do x, I can look to this list and stand in something that will have me do it.

My game right now is to be an inspiration in my career. And standing there (and refining my structures), I’ve been much more reliable for my word in the days since.

So what does this have to do with procrastination? Create your values, which would have you honor your word. Have them be real – look not just the values you “should” have, but also look at the ones that actually run the show, so you can be responsible for when they’re providing value, rather than just getting in the way.

When you do that, you may notice that procrastination, or whatever it is you’re dealing with, will start to become much easier to manage.

This is a common conversation among writers, though I don’t think they fight that battle any more than the average joe – it’s just more pronounced for us, since we have to solve it ourselves, rather than having someone come down our throats to make us get things done.

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