I mentioned in my last post that I had gone through the list of Core Values on James Clear’s website and selected five: Adventure, Curiosity, Knowledge, Recognition, and Self-Respect. Today I want to write some thoughts on the three that I think are already a high priority in my life: Adventure, Knowledge, and Recognition.
I realize this is the third post this month that has referenced Adventure, having previously talked about my trips to India and creating an Adventure List. So it is probably not a surprise that I have it as a high priority and one of my Core Values. When I was making the list, I thought about The Alphabet Challenge and The Great Lentil Adventure as well as doing Oscar Party each year. One of the things I most enjoy is trying to accomplish something that is crazy, but with constraints. So the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to take on similar challenges, which evolved over four months into this Year of Challenges.
Knowledge as a Core Value may also not be surprising considering my career as a professional scientist researching synthetic biology. I love thinking about processes and mechanisms, and I’m frequently more concerned with how something works than if something works. I self-proclaim as a Ravenclaw, or Serdaigle en français, and I try to prioritize my activities over what I will learn rather than what I might gain in resources or pleasure. So as I am constructing the different month long challenges this year, they all are themed around skills that I want to learn and acquire, such as becoming a better writer.
Lastly Recognition adds a little streak of Slytherin, ou Serpentard, to the mix. Lately I’ve been trying to emphasize the process over the end goal and doing things for myself, but I would be fooling myself if I didn’t admit that approval and recognition from others doesn’t play a significant part. Even with this blog, which I am principally writing for myself, I find myself regularly checking my analytics to see how many people viewed each day. In her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Carol Dweck talks about the difference between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. A fixed mindset includes self-talk like “I’m bad at math” or “I’m a naturally gifted athlete”, while the growth mindset fosters change with self-talk like “If I work hard, I can improve x.” I feel like some of my dopamine hits from Recognition come from hearing “You’re so smart” throughout my life, which while boosting self-confidence also breeds a fixed mindset. I think that many times I prefer something easy over something where I might fail because my brain associates success with ‘being smart’ and being recognized as such. It then draws the logical conclusion to failure as ‘not being smart’ and something that will prevent that recognition. So while I’m trying to temper my Recognition response, I do feel that it is still useful for accountability. If others know what I am trying to do and my brain feels that I will gain Recognition if I accomplish it, then I am more likely to continue when things get tough.
So put together:
- Adventure creates a love of challenges
- Knowledge drives the desire to learn and improve
- Recognition establishes accountability from others
These three Core Values have evolved to form the crux of my plan this year.
Tomorrow I’ll write about the other two Core Values, Curiosity and Self-Respect, that I included in my five as ones that I wanted to integrate more into my life.