What Are Your Values?

>> Monday, April 6, 2009

Last week, I asked, "What is your mission statement?" and suggested that a life plan would be as valuable for an individual as a business plan is for a company. Now that you have your mission statement, the next step in writing your life plan is an outline of your values.

In conjunction with your mission statement, your values statement sets your priorities and can help you make both small and crucial decisions about your life. For a Conscious Shopper, knowing your values can help you decide which issues are most important to you, especially if money and time are limited.

With a values statement, you can more easily answer those tough questions at the grocery store, such as:

  • Should I buy local or should I buy organic?
  • Should I buy the fair trade bananas wrapped in plastic or the conventional bananas without plastic?
  • Should I support the company who gives 10% of their profits to local communities or the the company who gives 10% of their profits to fight worldwide hunger?"
I'll provide my own values as an example. After pondering this question for a few days, I prioritized my values as follows:
  1. Health and well-being of my family
  2. Fair treatment of human beings
  3. Fair treatment of animals
  4. Health and well-being of my community and local economy
  5. Health and well-being of mankind worldwide
  6. Health of the planet
With these values in mind, I can now see that I should be favoring organics more than I have been since pesticide intake can affect the health of my kids. I can tell that buying the fair trade bananas wrapped in plastic is more in line with my values than buying the conventional bananas without plastic since fair trade is a human issue and plastics are primarily a planetary issue. And I can also recognize that I would rather support a company that gives to my community than a company that gives to people far away, as worthy as their cause is.

I can also tell that if I could only afford to focus on one value, I would choose foods and products that preserve the health of my children.

Still, knowing my values does not alleviate the intricacy of those important environmental and social issues, and because of that, someone with the exact same values as me might come to different conclusions about their priorities. For example, they might believe that plastics are primarily a health issue, and therefore fall under category #1. Someone else might conclude that organics are mostly a planetary issue and would therefore fall under category #6.

The questions are endless and confusing, but I think if you have a relative picture of your values (even if that picture is slightly hazy and changes with every new piece of information you learn), you've got a good reference point to start.

So now it's your turn: What are your values?


stenkil's mom April 6, 2009 at 11:17 PM  

Is the conscious shopper having a good vacation?

Erin aka Conscious Shopper April 7, 2009 at 4:05 PM  

Except that it started snowing here today. Thank goodness for indoor pools! How's your vacation going?

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