Ethical decision making: Unpacking the assumption that financial value, when making decisions, trumps other values and beliefs
We are all just doing our best, aren’t we?
When it comes to ethical decision making, we are all just doing our best, aren’t we? It can be incredibly hard to know if we are making the right decisions for our lives when we have no external compass or framework for doing so. Today we are unpacking the assumption that financial value, when making decisions, trumps other values and beliefs, and how to overcome this.
This morning I had no coffee left in the house; this disaster prompted me to do both, the (online) grocery shopping and go for a walk to my local cafe before commencing work. Whilst I walked, I popped in my headphones and listened to the Foundr podcast (one of my faves) and chose an episode about ethical decision making and good life decisions. The host, Nathan Chan, interviewed one of the co-founders of the brand Kickstarter, Yancey Strickler. The talk struck a chord with me for my vision and ethos for both my own life and for my little business – Little Pocket. I felt it was philosophically important enough to share his story and work – so here it is and I hope it helps you, friend.
Yancey set about explaining his own working method for ethical decision making and making good life decisions – from small and simple, everyday choices to very important ones, which will determine the course of a life. He calls it Bentoism; and before that scares you off, let me explain – it is simply an ethical decision making framework which takes into account your moral compass, values and goals, for both now and in the future – genius! This allows you to keep steering yourself in the ultimate direction you want to see yourself and your family in, in the future.
How did this idea come about?
It all started from the idea that financial value often overrides the final say in life decisions and the rest of your morals, values and goals, are left out or not considered as much. Financial pressure and the need for financial security is an extremely strong force and longing for most people; however, mostly basing decisions on this can steer you also in the direction your future self doesn’t want to be in either. Enter, Bento.
In 1970, a study by the University of California, Los Angeles asked students from all over the USA to rank 20-odd personal beliefs and values from essential or very important to least important. This has since been published annually and the story it tells shows how we have shifted in society since.
The 1970 publication of the survey showed 84% of participants ranked the section of “developing a meaningful philosophy of life” as essential or very important to their lives. In the 2019 publication it was just 49%. In 1970, the same survey asked students to rank how essential, or very important it was in their lives, to “be very well off financially”, with 28% of people ranking this highly, and in 2019, 79% did. This clearly demonstrates a shift in socio-economic beliefs and values. Although this study doesn’t have scientific data as to why this shift may have occurred, one can only assume this has a lot to do with the increasing financial pressure on all people globally, with the ever-increasing cost of living.
“Everybodys chasing a beauty they don’t have”
So how can we take back our agency over the ability to make well-rounded decisions, taking into account our personal values, beliefs and goals in life?
Having agency over your life while remaining authentic to your moral compass is vital to our overall health. Having the know-how to satisfy your financial need but also make decisions that are true to you, allowing you to continue developing as a person of integrity, not letting the creature of finances take control, empowers you to be your own person.
Bento asks you to consider 4 areas when making decisions –
- Now me. What you want and need right
- Future me. Goals to be met 10 years + from now.
- Now us. People who we rely in and who rely on us.
- Future us. The next generation.
Going through this list of multi-dimensional considerations allows people to examine their own self interest for now and the future, while also contemplating the impact this may have on others around them, now and later. This objective tool encourages and enables people to think with a vision, which sometimes means sacrificing something now, for benefit later and allows them to see how their now-sacrifices are cashed in for a positive future.
Draw it like a bento box – 4 squares and add your own values and goals into each one based on the above 4 points. Stick it on the fridge. When making a decision, consider how it fits into each box and this will help orientate you towards your current wants and needs, and future hopes.
The thief trying to steal your vision
I like to think of self-pity as a thief who comes to rob you of self-belief, dignity, confidence and courage, whispering lies like, ‘you’re not good enough’, ‘you can’t do this’, ‘no hope’. The idea of visualising self-pity as a person gives authority over these thoughts and feelings to tell them no, you’re not welcome, just like you would a thief in your home.
Why am I talking about self-pity?
For those future-me-will-thank-me-for-this situations! It takes vulnerability to go on a journey of self discovery, self improvement and change your thought processes, which can bring up all sorts of feelings. Sometimes sacrificing things now can feel like you’re missing out, rather than investing in your future, and it’s easy to feel a bit stink about it. This personification process coupled with using the bento method for ethical decision making, gives you a holistic, value based authority over making decisions on what’s important to you, now and in the future, as well as developing your own person, ethos, goals and direction.
Feel free to personify any negative thoughts and feelings and speak truth over them!
What if I don’t exactly know my direction, values or beliefs?
Many people feel this way, a bit lost and unsure of what they want out of life. Everyone is influenced in different ways towards their values, beliefs and goals, and this is a huge part of why we are all so different. To start exploring what matters to you check out our page discussing the five ways to wellbeing. It is a scientifically proven method for enhancing your life and wellbeing, and it is a great place to begin your journey to figuring out and developing your own value system, redefining it or strengthening it.
Positive outcomes + key takeaway points
- Developing the use of the bento theory in your life has the ability to give you agency over your own ethical decision making, big or small, towards a future that may currently seem out of reach, building a legacy or developing yourself in a practical way you didn’t know how.
- You may find in doing this exercise, you also develop a compassion for others. Seeing them where they are at and recognising we are all just doing our best.
- The snowball effect of reaching little goals keeps you motivated for reaching the next one. This path will challenge you to mature well, gaining wisdom and experience as you grow towards the future person you want to be.
- Until you test yourself out, reach for a bit more in life and try new ways of doing things, you’ll never know your full potential.
“If you change nothing,
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Be prepared to start succeeding in your overall health and wellbeing, achieving goals and having a great time. Growth – your way