Emotional Competence

How To Make Value-Based Decisions in a Judgmental World

How To Make Value-Based Decisions in a Judgmental World | www.TheHeavyPurse.comMy father was a great financial role model to me and my sisters and taught us so much about owning our financial power. One of his best lessons was to make value-based decisions, rather than emotional ones. Now imagine trying to impart this lesson on a teenage girl who is 90% emotional. He had his work cut out for him!

Thankfully, he persevered, and it remains a lesson that I now demonstrate to my own daughters. While it’s probably not entirely possible to remove all emotion from our money decisions, or even recommended, we must still be mindful of how they influence us. Otherwise, they will guide our decisions, and too often we regret emotional purchases later.

Creating Alignment Between Values and Goals

People often ask me what is the difference between values and goals because they use them interchangeably. Values and goals are not the same, but they are intimately intertwined with one another. Your values represent your beliefs and what matters to you. Many of us may have similar values, such as putting our family first, but what that actually means to you and to me, may differ from each other.

Your goals are things you want for yourself and your family that align with your core values. For example, if your family is your top priority, then you likely have family-oriented goals, such as buying a home, family vacations and paying for your children’s college education. You can sense when your goals are out of alignment with your values, because something doesn’t feel right. Your actions don’t match your values.

Make Value-Based Decisions to Create Your Ideal Life

Once you know what your core values are, you can set goals around them to help create the life you want for you and your family. This seems easy enough (and it is) but we cannot overlook how our emotions affect us. We are emotional beings. Our lives are busy, messy and stressful. It is easy to lose sight of our values and goals. This is why I always ask myself, “Will this bring me closer to my goals or am I feeding an emotion?” when I find myself tempted to buy something unplanned and suggest you do the same. It slows you down and makes you think, giving you a chance to regain perspective and make the right decision.

Once you get a handle on your emotions and can more quickly identify when they are leading you astray, there is another potential problem you face — a judgmental world. Whether we like it or not, people judge us, sometimes harshly, for the choices we make, even when we make choices that our honor our values and goals. You need to be prepared to handle push-back and outright criticism, so you can continue to work towards creating your ideal life versus following the herd to avoid negative comments from the peanut gallery.

5 Tips to Help You Make Value-Based Decisions in Judgmental Society

We make constant judgments every day. We like this food or we don’t. We like this book or we don’t. We like that outfit or we don’t. Knowing what we like and dislike is important to helping us create our ideal life. The problem arises when those around us start vocalizing their judgments in a way that makes us feel bad or diminishes our positive actions. Most of us have been at the receiving end of such unwelcome judgment, and I’ve outlined five tips to help tune out the naysayers, so you can stay focused on what you want.

1. Know Your Values

This seems obvious, but when I ask people what their values are, I am often greeted with silence. Deep down, most of us know what we value, but we haven’t taken the time to really define them or to become intimately familiar with them. Sometimes, we even feel a bit embarrassed by our values, particularly if they differ from our peers. I encourage you to take some time and truly figure out what matters to you and your spouse, if you have one. Ignore the outside noise on what you should care about and create your own values.

Once you complete that task, then you need to understand “why” they matter so much to you. This is important, so do not skip this step. Otherwise, you will be very susceptible to the opinions and criticisms of others. Those people will always exist, so you need to be in a position where their influence is minimal or none at all.

2. Be Confident in Your Decisions

Unfortunately, in this world, there are people who seek out weakness to exploit. This is why it is critical that you know the “why” behind your values and goals, so you can make confident decisions. When people exude confidence, it is much harder for others to tear them down.

The most vulnerable to criticism are those who are still beating themselves up over past money sins and haven’t forgiven themselves for making them. The pointed barbs from others echo their own internal bashing, which just reaffirms their negative beliefs about themselves. To help mitigate self-doubt, turn to your values and goals. When they are in alignment, they act as a beacon to help guide your decisions, even when you feel emotional. You stop second-guessing yourself or wondering if you made the right choice. You know you did.

Safety Tip: When faced with a choice, always ask yourself, “Will this bring me closer to my goal(s) or am I feeding an emotion?” to help you make confident decisions.

3. Chose Whom You Share Your Values/Goals with Wisely

We live in a social media world where everybody knows everything about everyone. It can be difficult to keep things private or to a small group of trusted and supportive individuals. And when news expands beyond your tribe, the reaction to how you live your life can range from cheers to jeers. This is why I recommend that you carefully select whom you share your goals with because not everyone is in your corner.

Make sure you feel confident about your values and ability to honor them through keeping your goals before sharing them with others. Here’s why: think of a goal as a flower. It starts out as a seed, then grows into a beautiful flower with your love and attention. But flowers are also fragile, and a wrong step can flatten them. Those who love you can still inadvertently crush your goals, especially when they are still in a delicate, new-born state. A sturdy flower, with deep roots, is more apt to bounce back, even under tough conditions. When you have conviction around your values and goals, then you are ready to share with those who will be your biggest cheerleaders and more immune to those who are not.

4. Don’t Take Criticism Personally

This is a hard one, I know. Our feelings get hurt and/or we get defensive when people belittle our values and goals. We start questioning ourselves and wonder if they are right and we are wrong. Again, this goes back to being very clear as to what your values are and why, so that you can stand up to the judgment of others.

We Don’t All Have the Same Values

It’s important to remember that we are unique individuals and don’t necessarily value the same things. Even when we share a common, broad value, such as family, the way we choose to honor that value will likely differ from one another too, which is okay. We need to accept and respect that others may value things we don’t and honor mutual values in a different manner than us. Extend this courtesy to everyone, even when they are not so generous or understanding.

Those Lashing Out Are Hurting Inside

Many of the people who lash out and hurl cruel remarks at you often do so because they are hurting. Their anger and vitriol is less about you and more about themselves. They may be envious of you, or you may be a reminder that they haven’t dealt with their own mistakes. They feel bad, so they tear down your happiness to make themselves feel better. Don’t give them that power.

Safety Tip: It is also important to realize that judgment will happen from all sides. Spenders may push you to spend mindlessly. Savers may tell you that you shouldn’t want materialistic things. We all earn so much money every year, and it is our right and privilege to spend it on the things that matter most to us. Listen to your own heart and brain versus playing to their agenda.

5. Stay Focused On What You Want

It is easy to get caught up in all the judgment and negativity in the world. It can be a huge distraction and you can burn all your energy playing defense. I instead recommend that you focus your energy on creating the life you want. As best you can, surround yourself with like-minded and supportive people. Continue to let your values create your goals and guide your decisions. You will ultimately create the life you want for yourself, which is all that truly matters and the best response to silence your critics.

How do you handle criticism on how you use your money? What’s your best tip or advice to avoid letting the naysayers get to you?


September 28, 2015  •  21 Comments  •  Emotional Competence

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  1. Monday, September 28th, 2015
    Step 1 seems so obvious, yet I think people don't pay it enough attention. You need to know with certainty what your values are. Of course, they can change. But to think about what you care about and decide on values is so important. It reminds me of the saying "if you don't stand for something you'll fall for anything".
    • Shannon Ryan
      Thursday, October 1st, 2015
      Exactly, Natalie. People have a general idea what they value, but few have really taken the time to define why they value those things. Once you do, decisions become so much easier to make because it is very clear which answer brings you closer to creating what you want.
  2. Monday, September 28th, 2015
    "Focus your energy on creating the life you want". You are so right Shannon! We only get one life so make it count, right? :) Live your life according to your values and don't let the naysayers deter you!
    • Shannon Ryan
      Thursday, October 1st, 2015
      That's right, Mackenzie! We only get one life so we ought to make sure we're creating it for us, not for everyone else.
  3. Monday, September 28th, 2015
    Great, great post and so critically important right now. Like you said I have never met someone who is overly critical that didn't have some other issue in their life. The mock and criticize others to try and compensate for their issue or failure. It's hard to let things bounce off of you, but at the end of the day whose opinion really matters. No one has said anything to me about our finances, but my wife gets a lot from her family. It's funny how people criticize others for not spending enough yet we can do whatever we want whenever we want. You just have to do what is right for you.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Thursday, October 1st, 2015
      It is incredibly hard at times to let hurtful remarks bounce off of you or be impervious to the judgments of others, but we have to try. You're exactly right - you have to do what is right for you and find great comfort in doing so.
  4. Monday, September 28th, 2015
    Sharing your values wisely is such a smart tip. We all want people we know and love to support and encourage us, but in reality, there are plenty of times when that isn't possible. I'd hate to make things awkward with family or give up a value because someone didn't agree with me.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Thursday, October 1st, 2015
      I've seen hopes and dreams inadvertently crushed by a discouraging word from a loved one. Even though sharing is one way to be held accountable and to be a goal out there, you definitely need to be mindful of whom you ask for support. Because even those who love you, aren't always able to provide the support and encouragement you need.
  5. Monday, September 28th, 2015
    I think I take criticism more personally than most people. It's hard not to and it's an area I'm working on. I think you made an excellent point when you pointed out that we don't all have the same values. I've seen this firsthand when some people have values - and goals - that are totally different than mine. Your decisions are naturally going to be different at times.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Thursday, October 1st, 2015
      Taking constructive criticism is a developed skill, DC. Some people may be able to do it better than others, but most of us have to make an effort to not take it personally. It doesn't necessarily come naturally to all of us. :) Values are definitely personal and even more so how we choose to honor them. I remind myself the way I chose to honor is the best way for me, and the way you chose to honor them is the best for you.
  6. Tuesday, September 29th, 2015
    Not taking criticism personally is definitely something I need to work on. You're absolutely right that those who are lashing out are those who are hurting or have low-self esteem. Don't let them tear you down when you know that you're making the right choice for yourself. And also, like you said, people just have different values too. I need to be more careful judging people in that way too...just because I don't value something, it doesn't mean other won't.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Thursday, October 1st, 2015
      Their lashing out is definitely a warning flag that they are hurting. More often what they say is about themselves and not you, which is why we can't let it influence us, even though that can be admittedly hard at times. :) I catch myself judging others too and have to remind myself to accept and respect other people's values because I would want them to do the same.
  7. Wednesday, September 30th, 2015
    Comments from others used to bother me a lot, particularly concerning our money. Lately they don't bother me quite as much, and I think it's because we've made some pretty big strides financially. I'm feeling a lot more confident about our money now than I have at any point in the past, and I know when we make purchases that we can afford it. I think that has helped make it easier to ignore others. I also try to be mindful of the fact that when others make hurtful comments, it usually has much more to do with what's going on in their life than what's going on in mine!
    • Shannon Ryan
      Thursday, October 1st, 2015
      I'm so glad that you're feeling more financially confident, Dee. I know you and your husband have worked so hard to get to this place! And yes, you are spot on - most hurtful comments aimed at you, have very little to do with you and more to do about how they feel about themselves.
  8. Thursday, October 1st, 2015
    Not taking criticism is what I struggle with the most, especially as some clothes start to look faded or worn. On one hand, of course I'd like some new clothes to keep some criticisms at bay, but on the other, I'm much more focused now with keeping my savings rate at a certain percentage as much as possible now that a little one's in the mix! Keeping blinders on and just focusing on what's important for our family has helped. Thank you for this reminder, Shannon!
    • Shannon Ryan
      Thursday, October 1st, 2015
      Anna! I'm so glad you stopped by - hope all is well and the new baby (although not so new now) is doing well! Being able to stay focused on what you want definitely makes it easier to tune out the noise and judgment of others and focus on what really brings you joy. New cloths might be nice but having the solid financial foundation is more important to you right now.
  9. Thursday, October 1st, 2015
    How do I handle naysayers? A quote from the movie Madagascar: "Smile and wave, boys....just smile and wave..."
    • Shannon Ryan
      Thursday, October 1st, 2015
      Love that - Travis! It's what I'm going to do moving forward. "Smile and wave" - the best response to naysayers. :)
  10. Friday, October 2nd, 2015
    I don't get too much criticism with how I spend my money, but I do sometimes feel like I have to defend my grocery budget, and that's something I need to either adjust if I can, or get over. Because as you probably know, health is a huge value to me, and I don't mind spending more upfront on healthy options and so I know my grocery budget is sometimes a lot higher than a family of four. I think there is wiggle room for sure, but I'm also sticking to my value.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Sunday, October 4th, 2015
      I know health is a core value for you Tonya, just as it is in our home too. I'm sure plenty of people would judge my grocery budget too, but it is in alignment with my values. I am willing and happy to spend more on groceries to keep our family healthy and will make sacrifices in other areas, if needed.
  • Meet Shannon

    "As a Certified Financial Planner, it is my passion to help individuals and families build a healthy relationship with money. I look forward to helping you raise financially confident kids.” - Shannon Ryan