Some of us are blessed with incredible self-awareness to make informed decisions. And the assumption is that this tends to improve as you get older. But even then, there’s always room for improvement.
I remember coming across James Clear’s core value list, from which he creates an annual personal integrity report to evaluate how closely he is living to his authentic self.
In this post, we’re going to use Mr Clear’s structure to help you create your own integrity report to give you a guiding set of principles to live out your life with purpose. In each section, I will give you an example of how I would answer each question.
Section 1 – What are the core values that drive my life?
As Jame’s suggests, it’s important that you list out all of your core values then choose 3 – 5 to focus on for your integrity report. Once you’ve selected your most important values, ask yourself three questions to inspire action to fulfil each value.
Below is how I addressed this section.
Compassion (awareness, love, sympathy)
- Am I increasing my awareness of those who are suffering and misfortunate?
- Am I expressing unconditional love to those in need?
- Am I spreading the message of compassion to others?
Simplicity (uncomplicated, direct, clear)
- Am I regularly seeking basic human experiences?
- Am I practising mindfulness through meditation?
- Am I living with an essentialist mindset?
Authenticity (realness, truth, acceptance)
- Am I truthful with how I communicate with others and myself?
- Am I pretending to be someone that I’m not?
- Am I accepting of all of my strengths as well as my weaknesses?
Value (usefulness, relevancy, importance)
- Am I getting to the heart of needs, wants and desires in my interactions?
- Am I practising empathy on a daily basis?
- Am I regularly working on developing useful skills?
Fun (light-hearted, joking, play)
- Am I taking time out to play?
- Am I comfortable making fun of myself and engaging in banter?
- Am I taking myself too seriously?
Section 2 – How am I living with integrity now and what can be improved?
Reflect on what you’ve done within the last year to move you closer to living with integrity. Under each value, think of specific examples where your actions have reflected your integrity.
What’s working? Maša and I launched The Minimalist Vegan 12 months ago with a goal of spreading the message of compassion towards animals while keeping ourselves honest. It’s been a fulfilling venture, and we know we have helped reduce the impact on animals and the environment.
Opportunities: while we’ve been active in spreading the message of compassion towards animals, we would like to take it a step further and get more involved with animals at a local level. This means spending more time at animal sanctuaries and participating in local events. Also, beyond animals, we would like to build upon the concept of what it means to be a Fairling and increase awareness for fair working conditions and environmental concerns.
What’s working? I’m a big believer in simplicity, whether it’s travelling light in Europe, eliminating non-essential items from our apartment, or designing a simple website that’s easy to navigate, I’m always asking the question, is this simple enough?
Opportunities: I think we’ve become quite good at decluttering and eliminating but what we struggle with is getting back to fundamental human experiences. Simple things like going for a walk, looking up at the stars, connecting with friends and family.
What’s working? In the last year, I’ve become increasingly aware of how truthfully I’m living to my raw innate self. I’ve been sincere in the way I communicate with others at work and in social environments. I’ve also been less intimidated to engage in heated discussions.
Opportunities: I’ve noticed that I put an extreme amount on pressure on how I should be living instead of focusing on just being me, right now, at this moment. It comes down to self-acceptance. It’s unhealthy and unproductive to get caught up in what you’re not, particularly with so many distractions online making you feel like you’re never good enough.
What’s working? Adding value is like oxygen for me. I love helping where I can, and can sometimes be overly helpful. I’ve been practising the skill of asking quality questions to get to the bottom of what people desire. I do this in my day job as well as my creative endeavours online.
Opportunities: I’m confident in discovering what’s important to others, but the next step is developing the necessary skills and knowledge to deliver solutions based on the problems that I’m solving. This means developing more in-depth knowledge in areas that are important to me, e.g. minimalist vegan principles.
What’s working? Spending time with my five-year-old nephew has helped me feel like a child again. Life moves so quickly these days, and sometimes you need to take some time out and play. Whether it’s impersonating characters from Kung Fu Panda, building lego or watching Disney movies, all of these experiences have been fun and enriching.
Opportunities: I’ve been taking myself way too seriously, and I shouldn’t have to be forced to have fun. One objection is not having enough time to have fun. It sounds ridiculous, but it’s true. So moving forward I need to appreciate the value of fun enough to make time for it.
Section 3 – Summarise your personal integrity report
So now that you’ve identified your core values, as well as what’s been working and what can be improved, it’s time to summarise your key takeaways so you can reflect upon them next year.
Here’s an example of what mine looks like.
- Visit animal sanctuaries and spread the message of compassion beyond animals.
- Seek more basic human experiences on a daily basis.
- Eliminate distractions and embrace my flaws.
- Develop applicable knowledge about minimalist, vegan principles.
- Make more time for fun and take on a more light-hearted approach to work.
To get the most use out of the report, I suggest you print it out and get it laminated—even if you use section one for a quick reference. Also make an effort to read it regularly, maybe even daily. It’s easy to go off track, and reviewing your plan consistently will keep you focused on what’s important.
Like James, I suggest updating your report every 12 months as your goals, visions and action plan is likely to change.
This has honestly been a powerful exercise, and I already feel much clearer. I look forward to updating it again next year.
What does yours look like?