First, I would like to say a big thank you to the BellaNaija team for giving me a new column! Coming up with a name for it was an interesting journey. I found out that I’m perhaps not as creative as I had thought; but with the right help, here we are!
I had initially planned to do another one of my short stories today, but with this new development, I decided to do an article that’s more conspicuously related to the column name instead. I’ll leave my short story for another day.
Today, I have a very important question to ask you: What are your values? I don’t know if you’ve been asked this question before, and what your response was. It was fairly recently that I understood what that question actually means. It means: what are the most important things to you in life?
When people asked me such a question, I would always have different answers on different occasions, because I really didn’t know how to tell what the most important things to me were. It depended on how I felt at the moment the question was asked. But this shouldn’t be the case. Our values should be unwavering. They should never depend on something as undulating as our mood swings. They should be steady and somewhat cast in stone.
So, I went on a journey of figuring out what my values actually were. And I came to the conclusion that, just like everyone else, I had things that I held very dear to my heart and they could simply be identified as the things on which I spent the most of my: time, energy and (financial) resources. I began to find out that I had silly values such as watching TV, surfing the internet idly, sleeping, and just being at my job.
This was very scary! I mean, so how much time did I spend on the important things in life? Very little –less than I did on the unimportant.
I re-prioritized and I came up with a new set of values; some of which I think everyone should actually have. We should spend the most of our time, energy and resources on these five areas of life, in order to lead successful and fulfilling lives with as little regret as possible.
I call them the Five-Fs of life, and I list them, not necessarily in order of importance, but in the order in which we acquire them, right from birth until we are much older.
In my article: Three Things You Are Responsible For in Life, I explain that you have two kinds of families: the one you are born into, and the one you create. You are responsible to the members of the family you are born into. This is your primary agent of socialization. You represent them in your behavior outside and so are answerable to them.
You are responsible for the members of the family you create. You brought them into the world and so you should take care of them until they are able to take care of themselves.
We should spend as much time with family as we can. If you spend more time and energy at your job than you do with your family, then you simply value your job over your family. Many people struggle with this statement because they don’t want to feel bad about placing something else above their family. However, I’m not here to declare it a bad or good thing. My purpose here is to help you identify a value of yours that you perhaps didn’t know of.
Your belief system is very important. We usually acquire ours from the families we were born into, and this affects everything we do in life: what we think about other human beings, how we relate to them, what we think about society, whom we vote for to govern it, what we think about business and who we employ to work in our companies.
If I were stranded with you on an island after escaping from a sinking ship and just the two of us had to wait there a few days for the rescue boat to come by, I would be more concerned with your beliefs (your faith and moral outlook on life) than with your intellect (whether you solve calculus well, or you’re knowledgeable in Physics and Chemistry).
Because your faith/beliefs will tell me what you’ll do to me when I fall asleep at night. Whether you’ll kill me, steal the money I have in my wallet, and then roast me for dinner or not. Your academic prowess won’t inform me of that.
Our faith – what we believe in – ultimately determines our actions. We may have acquired them from our first families, but it is important to know for ourselves (personally) what we believe in, and then devote sufficient time, energy and resources in digging deep into it.
Friendships are very important. Families can only go so far. We need to increase our connectedness with as many people as we can. Spend time developing friendships with people, especially with those who share similar values with you.
Give-and-take, win-win relationships with the right kind of friends will take you very far. This should be done intentionally too. Often times, we rely on casual circumstances in choosing our friends. “Oh he’s my colleague at work”; “he supports the same soccer team as I”. We should be able to differentiate between friends, colleagues and even acquaintances. Friends share similar values with you not necessarily similar workstations, football teams or geographical location.
Spending valuable time, energy and resources with those friends just rubbing minds together will take you very far in life, helping you to accomplish what you never thought you would; simply because you’re hanging around those who care enough about you to help you see your blind spots and pull out your hidden potential.
We really have to spend time on our finances. Simply recording what comes in –how much you earn –and what goes out –how much you spend –on a daily basis will take you farther than you can imagine.
This is a commonly embraced principle among the wealthy. It was the trademark of the Rockefellers. Have you heard it said that “what is not measured cannot be managed”? It’s very true.
So many people can’t tell you what they did with their last pay. They say things like “before the money even hit my account on the 24th, I’d already spent it all”. That is nothing to be proud of. We should devote time and energy to measuring and managing our finances.
Michael Olafusi did a great article on 3 Money Mistakes Nigerians Make, here on BN. It was very informative and I think you should read it and apply the principles he lays out there in terms of managing your finances.
I value personal freedom a great deal. I don’t want to be too dependent on family, the system, friends, society, etc in making my daily choices. Neither do I want to be controlled by them. I also don’t want to be a burden to my family, friends, the system, and to society.
Now, this is very crucial because it determines the kind of choices you then make in life. For example, I wouldn’t want to live in a country that does not value certain freedoms such as freedom of speech, association and enterprise. I wouldn’t want to associate with people who are manipulative –controlling anyone that makes the mistake of thinking they were friends with them. I wouldn’t subscribe to any belief system or faith movement that shackles its adherents. And I certainly wouldn’t love to spend time with any family member who wants to control my life as an adult –telling me where to work, whom to marry and how many children to have in order to receive an inheritance from them.
You would then notice that, for me, the value of freedom comes first because it determines my choices within the other values of: family, faith and friends. Also, a big aspect of being free is to have your finances in order. Once you are financially free, you really don’t have to depend on anyone, but God, for your sustenance.
So, there you go! Five areas that I believe you just have to get right in life. They also happen to be some of my personal values, and I’m striving to allocate my time energy and resources among them appropriately.
Let me ask you the question once again: what are your values? What do you spend the most of your time, energy and money doing? List them out today in that order and begin to see where your priorities lie and whether you’re getting the five-Fs right in your life.