• Brian MacKenzie

Building A Life From Which You Do Not Need To Escape - Part 5: Architectural Style

This post is a follow up to previous posts Building A Life From Which You Do Need To Escape Part 1, 2, 3, and 4, so hopefully you have read those. In Part 1 we focused on building an internal life from which we do not want to escape and suggested that PRACTICING PRESENCE PERSISTENTLY is the foundation upon which the rest is built, in part 2 we suggested that SELF -AWARENESS was also an important part of the process, in Part 3 we focused on ACCEPTANCE, and in part 4 we focused on PERSPECTIVE. This post will focus on personal VALUES.



In the context of building a life from which we do not want to escape, values are probably best compared to architectural style. This is the vision, the direction that guides the process. Not many architects or project mangers would be comfortable working on a project that had no determined style or direction. The same is true in this case. If we care to build a particular life, it seems important to be clear about the vision and direction that life should take.


Chosen personal values help provide that vision and direction, which also infuses meaning and purpose into our lives. Having said that, for there to be true meaning and purpose, it goes without saying that those chosen values have to be authentic and not superficial. In other words, they do have to be chosen by us, not given to us. For many, it can be a challenging task to identify their chosen values. Generally speaking, values are not a destination, they cannot be achieved, instead they help direct our lives. In this context they are also different from goals in the sense that goals can be achieved, values cannot. Having said that, we can and certainly should use goals in the service of our values. Here are some questions that may be helpful when thinking about personal values:

  1. What is important to you?

  2. What do you want your life to be about?

  3. If you had to choose 5 personal values to guide your daily decision making, what would they be?

When reflecting on and identifying personal values that are truly important to us, many often realize that they have never really taken the time to do so. Many are often unsure of which values they have been living by. Some even feel overwhelmed at the prospect of trying to narrow down the list of hundreds of values into five or so that are most important to them. Some realize that they need more than 5, less than 5, or even different values for different domains of their life, such as work, parenting, etc. Though this process may be challenging, it is essential, especially from the perspective of building a life from which we do not need to escape. Imagine hiring an architect, hiring a project manager, laying the foundation, then asking them to hurry up and get the house built, without providing them with any idea of what is important to you and which architectural style you prefer. What would the chances be of you actually liking that house whenever it is built?


So, go ahead and do it. Type in your search bar “list of personal values”, scroll through as many as you can and try to identify five or so that are most important to you. Sometimes it even helps to print a list off and rate them, say 1-10 with 10 being the most important and 1 being the least, or VI for very important to me and MI for minimally important to me, etc. The process of how we go about picking them, is not as important as making sure we define exactly what that particular value means to us. Once you have chosen personal values that are important to you, and you have defined exactly what those mean to you, go ahead and ask yourself, “How often do I actually live in alignment with those values?”

Values are the architectural style that guide the project. They are the direction we need to move towards in our journey.

If you have never gone through this process before, then it would not be surprising if you found out that you are often not living in alignment with your values. However, even if you were previously aware of your values, you may still find that you are often not living in alignment with them. You see, identifying them is one thing, but actually aligning our lives with them is an entirely different endeavor. Even once we know what the life we would not need to escape from looks like, there are often many barriers that stand between us being aware of it, and actually making it a reality. VALUES are the architectural style that guide the project. They are the direction we need to move towards in our journey. On that journey we need direction, but sometimes it also helps to have a walking partner. Please do not hesitate to reach out to our team at Solace if you would like one of our counselors to walk alongside you.


In the upcoming last part of this series, we will discuss the 6th and final piece of building the life from which you do not need to escape.

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