Hierarchy of values

After reading Kelly's (from Reepicheep's Coracle) hierarchy of values, I thought it would be fun/useful for me to identify my own optional value hierarchy.  I struggled with parts of this because my hierarchy of values changes by the context.  For example, I enjoy hanging out with friends, but not all the time.  Given the choice between reading or hanging out with friends, it will largely be equivalent.  If I've done a lot of reading, I would like to talk with someone about the books.  But I also want something to talk about, which reading supplies.  I also struggled with adding values such as personal health.  While it is very important that I stay healthy, its not so much an optional value as it is a requirement for living.  And often, its not something I pay attention to until I'm unhealthy (which luckily is not very often).

Here is my list so far:

  1. My career
  2. Family
  3. Home improvements/maintenance
  4. Reading good books
  5. Hanging out with friends
  6. Fitness
  7. Philosophizing
  8. Spreading good ideas
  9. Playing video games
  10. Wood working

Some people may be surprised that I list my career above family.  Truth is, without my career, I would not have the opportunity to enjoy my family.  Both the income and the satisfaction that comes from work are prerequisites for establishing pride in myself such that I can appreciate my family for who they are.  However, my family is a close second.  That is why I have chosen to work at a school that is not high pressure and where I can spend significant time with my family.  I love them dearly and often work hard to give them extra goodies, like my wife's new car that was paid for by my summer teaching or my kid's tuition.  But I love my job and could not give up my career for my family.  Although, and this is where most people will see my point, my career could be modified or put on hold temporarily if family needs demanded it.  I spend over 50% of my waking hours in my career.  If this was not my highest value, then why in the heck am I doing it?

As for the rest, I am trying to take the approach of value-dense living and do the things that will get the most bang for the buck.  So some things I list may be high in value, but take little time because I have learned how to be extra efficient at it.


  1. David Victor6:24 PM

    This is my first time on your blog, John. I had not known you kept one or I might have followed you before.

    This is an interesting list, John. Certainly not the 10 I would necessarily pick (I have no idea about anything to do with woodworking, for example). I was interested too to read why it was that you placed your family lower than your career. Again, not something with which I would necessarily agree, but an interesting self-evaluation.

  2. David,

    Welcome to my blog!

    Well woodworkimg is a rather new interest, though I did a little in college. This time around, I want to build some furniture.

    As for career over family, it may seem odd to many people, but I doubt my approach to either is much different then most people. Notice I didn't say my job is more important than my family. My career is my long term productive goals. Short term jobs are not as high on my list...but its hard to differentiate in my list.

  3. Great post John. Since I'm retired I would probably put a fun and productive retirement first with all the others subsumed under it including family and spreading rational ideas. I'll have to sit down and put together a list of my top ten.

    I think such a list can help one to more rationally prioritize ones values. It requires one to ask the question what do I value and why?
    Good post.

  4. Thanks Mike.

    I hope you post your list to your blog. It would be interesting to read.

  5. David Victor4:21 PM

    Thanks for the welcome, John. I understand your reasoning. That said, my own feeling is that -- at least as far as my daughters are concerned -- they are and have always been more important than my career. I am, I admit, strongly dedicated to my career and I love teaching and running the IB program. The thing I like best about being a professor is the ability to contribute to something larger than myself and that will hopefully influence students to think in ways that will benefit them long after I am retired. It is the passing on of values and the ability to make the world a better place one person at a time that is cetnral to my teaching philosophy. The values that I have came from those before me and I am passing them on (with the modifications of my own experience) to my students. It is a bit like a pipeline to which new segments of pipe are continually added to extend the reach of the water at its source... and I am the current end of the pipe to which my students piece of pipe will soon be fitted to extend the pipeline's reach. Each student for whom I have had something of value to pass on redirects the pipe in a new direction which is their own life's course. There is something, however, far more direct and certainly personal in what I feel I am (or hope I am, at least) contributing to my children. Here too I feel that I am part of something far greater than myself... and in this case they represent the direct flow of the continuation of the pipeline as opposed to the branches of the main pipe that -- at least in this metaphor -- my students represent. I may have allowed the metaphor here to get out of hand as I am afraid that the parallel is a bit confusing. Still, in my own view of things, I feel this is a fair summary of my thoughts on the matter. In the end, though, the career and the family share in common a means to an end -- the transmission of values and principles from one generation to the next.

  6. David,

    I completely understand your sentiment. As a professor and father, I want to pass on my knowledge, experiences, and values to my students and children, just as you do. They are very similar at times. Again, you have given me much to think about. Thank you.

  7. please can you explain hierarchy of values