Values, priorities & excuses

16 August 2018
I've come to believe strongly that values based living is a key element to a content and fulfilling life. This is very evident, for me, in the area of procuring, growing, cooking and enjoying food.

Before I got clear on my values my food decisions were mostly based on price and taste. The price element being a strong carry-over from life as a poor uni student as well as my inborn frugal ways. Clear values helped me to quantify the value of a food or action with a bigger scope than the monetary value assigned to it.

Succulents from the Garden Shed @The Farm

I didn't start out with a mission to 'get clear on my food values', in fact this way of thinking about and approaching food kind of snuck-up on me. The gateway was growing my own. I simply like the satisfaction of growing my own food. I love heading out to the garden, whether that be a big space or some balcony pots, and picking ingredients for my dinner.

I think I was born a gardener. I have memories of growing marigold cuttings around our backyard tank as a small child. I pestered my parents about a vegie patch for a long time but my mum was always scared of killing everything! Once I'd left my studies behind and moved into my own space one of the first things I did was buy some pots and herbs. Over the years my 'pot patch' grew, but it wasn't until I bought my own house, at the age of 30, that I really got to 'dig in'. I was hooked.

As my garden and harvests grew I started to get interested in preserving. Again, this was from the motivator that I had this food and I didn't want it to go to waste, mixed with my love of cooking and experimenting in the kitchen. Preserving hooked me big time. It was another skill that built that feeling of empowerment around food.

My first 'planting in the soil' vegie garden (several years in).

Alongside this was an interest in making things from scratch. Initially this extended from my love of cooking and experimenting. But over time it grew into much more. As I made the connection between the changes I was making, the changes I had yet to make and the importance of food to me things started connecting more clearly. I realised that underneath my enjoyment around food and cooking was a strong sense of connection to food and the role food had in connecting me to significant parts of my life - people, places, events and the environment.

I've always been quite a reflective and analytical person so as my actions changed my awareness grew, as did my appreciation for and understanding of the values underpinning the decisions I was making around food. And at times, the situations where my decisions weren't in line with my values.

Since I've been clear on my values it is much easier to make decisions. Well, perhaps 'easier' is the wrong word. Values give me a touch point, something to refer to and use as a framework to anchor my decisions in. They help me keep front of mind what's important to me, my family and the life I'm aiming for.

Baking bread - values based activity...and conveniently it also produces tasty results.

Does this mean things go perfectly - no. I'm still human! This process is ever changing. While my core values and beliefs remain largely stable there have been adjustments and refinements over the last few years as I continue to learn, reflect, analyse and implement.

The other thing that has shifted and changed are my priorities. As life changes and I go through different 'seasons' there is a shift in what is important and, importantly, what I have the resources (time, money, energy) to focus on.

The biggest indicator for me of a shift in priorities is when I start making excuses around my actions. This is a trigger for me to pause and check in with my priorities because it tells me something has changed. I've realised that when I'm not making a change and just making excuses that this means this action isn't a priority. For me it's not about motivation or will-power or needing more info - it's all about priorities.

Take my recent pasta making efforts. I've been wanting to get back  into making my own pasta for a long time but I wasn't doing it. I could make up many valid excuses of why it wasn't happening (2 kids under 5 anyone?) but the simple fact, for me, is that I was just not making it a priority. Once I got clear on how my values connected to this, particularly reducing food packaging waste, it was easier (though not easy) to take action.

It's easy to talk about something being important, but if I'm not taking action it means I'm not making it a priority. Once I'm clear on this it also helps me to stop berating myself (as much!) around the things I'm not doing. I can look at the inaction as being a result of not having the resources to prioritise that activity as opposed to making excuses to myself (and others, in some instances). Or alternatively if it is something that I want to prioritise I can look at how to do that.

Gratuitous baking shot - there can never be too many baking pics in a post.

Now that I've realised this about myself it has helped a lot in this, and many, parts of my life. It's good to 'know thyself' and keep this info front of mind.

So, how about you - are you clear on your food related values?
Can you relate to priorities vs excuses?

Please note this is in no way meant to be a judgement or commentary on anyone else. This was simply a way for me to gather my thoughts on this and share in this space.


  1. Food choices require respect for food production, which may have been common knowledge in bygone eras - but takes a long time to re-learn in the new millennium. I think that's why people struggle to form values about food, and stick more to the economical equation. It's taken me a long time to understand food production.

    My recent endeavour (and ongoing struggle) is about securing enough water supply to grow food at home. It's not just about catching water in a tank, it's finding the money to buy it in the first place - then positioning it best, in relation to the food production areas. It's the many more steps that need to take place, first, which can lead to a litany of excuses. Which are all valid reasons, but not taking any steps over a period of time, is somewhat making excuses.

    Which is why I find, bringing it back to the basics of small and slow solutions, can help you formulate a plan to progress. A thought provoking post, Laura.

    1. I agree Chris. It takes a long time, and the willingness to get a little uncomfortable, to build awareness of our food production systems and then set values around food.
      You're right, sometimes there are so many decisions and steps that it can lead to a sort of 'analysis paralysis'.
      Thanks for your thoughts, I always appreciate your perspective on things.

  2. yes it's hard sometimes to get over our excuses and just get into it! whatever it is. i tend to let things slide, and really have to give myself a good kick up the backside. yay to hard work and priorities. cheers sherry

    1. It's easy for things to slide every now and then. Priorities and 'just getting into' at times is definitely needed! Thanks Sherry.


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