That old chicken vs. egg dilemma….

Having spent a couple of decades in corporate strategy planning I understand the importance and value of creating a plan for success. 

When the plan is for a business, a common set of objectives that are very high level brings the organization together.  Then you take all of the company’s activities and create tie-backs and measurements to get everything synchronized and in step.  

If for example you want to improve the quality of the customer’s experience, you then look at every single place where you touch the customer and create a plan to improve it – to make it more fulfilling and most importantly – make it more compelling for them to return.   Those touch points might be ordering, billing, delivery – it will be every area of function that impacts the customer’s experience.  If you’ve ever done a feedback survey on Amazon, you’ll be able to relate.  It works because you start with the end in mind and share the responsibility for getting there. 

All too often though, what we know to do in business we ignore in our personal life.  We forget to realize that we are in fact “Me, Inc.”.  We need a value based plan for ourselves as well.  We need to decide what values drive us – what will give us the “life experience” that will be fulfilling and will compel us to live more – to give more.   So this year, before I created plans, before I set goals, before I did anything I defined the top ten values I would personally honor in 2013. 

As a point of clarification, we tend to think of “values” as health, financial security, family, faith, etc. and those are indeed values but what I’m talking about is slightly different.  These are the activities and attitudes that we need to embrace and champion in order to lead our best life right now.  And for that reason, they change.  What mattered to me as a single mother as I created a corporate career is very different from what I care about as a Nana with grandkids, developing my own business and generally creating my “post-children / post-corporate” life.  My core values don’t change but my operating principals should and do.

Here are my top ten for 2013:

Create – I am not at peak performance if there is not something that is about creativity in my life.  Can be writing, music or something very tangibly creative or it can be brain-storming ideas with clients.  The key is that there has to be creativity for my energy to flow.

Do the work – I am a great planner.  But sometimes I neglect to do the work.  So I’m making this a value priority.  That means that creativity has to move into getting something done!  The goals need to have an action plan that shows up in my calendar and I must do the work.  That discipline of doing the work is the only way we reach our full potential.

Build a community – As an empty-nester and solopreneur this is particularly important for me.  We can become very isolated.  And then we have no place to find and give support.  So this is becoming a priority.   There will be activities that are about this and they will be honored because I’ve made this a value.

Learning – This is one of my core values also here because it’s an activity that requires specific resources.   Without growth we die and we can only grow through learning.  Scheduling time for personal growth and learning is essential for me.

Prayer– This is a new one for me on the priority list but I have come to value this activity over the past year.  The meditation, journaling and prayer sessions I now have daily are my foundation.  They center me and give me a chance to both talk and listen! 

Gratitude – The best lesson of all for me in 2012 was this one.  Whatever happens (or doesn’t) bless it.  Be grateful for it.  And it will bless you in return.  I have so many examples of this from this past year.  We live in a state of grace.  Why not declare that?  As a value, it will be something I consider and find outlets for expression.

Play – Much needed for me!   What I love about this is that I get to define what fun looks like and it can combine fluidly with other values like learning and creativity.  But we need laughter and light in our lives.  The playful part of us is just as important in God’s purpose for us as anything else. 

Eat healthy – Whew!! You knew there would be some health items – right?  I’ll be writing more about this in the blog and my next book focuses on lessons I’ve learned from my continued journey to wellness but it must be on the list because I have to allow time and resources for it. 

Water! Water! Water!– Never again will I underestimate the power of hydration in our bodies and for our overall health.  It’s a separate priority for me in 2013 because it requires a constant focus and again, preparation and commitment. 

Walk! Walk! Walk! – That’s right!  Just walk.  Remember when I said that these will change?  For me, right now walking is a big commitment as a first step in getting moving.  Parking at the back of the parking lot and walking further to the store; climbing the stairs instead of taking the elevator – and yes, even wearing a pedometer to keep track!  If it’s a priority, we plan for it, we focus on it – we do it!

So those are my ten for 2013.  They are now on 3 x 5 cards on a board in my office.  I review my weekly calendar every Sunday night and will make certain that all ten are honored with consistency in how I use my most valuable resource – my time.  And as I review each day at its close, I will look for validation that I truly own these values and demonstrate them daily.

So back to that chicken and egg thing…. What comes first?  The values or the plan?  For me, it’s the values because then my mindset is where it needs to be and I can develop methods that are designed for success and have a continuous reminder of what is motivating the actions, even when it might be hard to follow through.  I know that when I look back on 2013 a year from now – these ten values are where my successes are going to be.  Why? Because we become what we think about and these values will be front of mind for me and present daily in my life.

About Kathi Laughman

Referred to by her clients as “The Plan B to Z Expert”, Kathi inspires them to see beyond probabilities to possibilities. They are stronger, happier and more financially secure than ever before. The result is the creation of far more value in the rest of their story than they ever dreamed possible. She serves professionals committed to continuously creating new pathways to success and significance.


  1. Great list. I love putting them up on the 3×5 cards too! I’m doing more walking now.

  2. I really enjoyed this blog. It’s so easy to get caught up in chasing our plans and goals while forgetting to take the time to examine our values and make sure that we are still honoring them. Kudos to you for a job well done!

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