I thought I had decided to lose weight 1000 times. But by the end of the day, I was right back to where I started from, only to face the next morning with the same remorse I had the previous morning. I didn’t realize that something deeper was going on, and that losing weight wasn’t a value for me but it was an ideal. I wanted it, but I didn’t want it badly enough.
A VALUE is something that we recognize as good and worthwhile, and we choose to have it in our life NOW by sacrificing other things. In contrast, an IDEAL is something that we recognize as good and worthwhile, and we want to have it in our life sometime in the future, but we are not willing to sacrifice for it right now. The key word here is “sacrifice”.
Some people say that eating healthfully is a value, yet they regularly make poor choices in restaurants and in the grocery store, or they may often eat junk late at night or frequently skip meals. For them, eating healthfully is an ideal, not a value, because they are not spending time creating a healthy diet in their lives. If they did spend time working on a healthy diet in their lives, then it would become a value – and a reality.
We choose those values that impress us favorably. Ideals are those other things we hold in esteem, but we don’t currently work to attain them. We may not look at a particular value in terms of our overall behavior, and we may sometimes confuse our values with our ideals. In addition, we may think that a particular ideal is a value when, in fact, we do nothing now to show that value’s importance in our lives.
Strong values are defended intensely, whereas weaker values are more easily compromised. Sometimes we think something is a value, but since we don’t sacrifice time for it, our behavior indicates it is really an ideal. But we can always choose to change our behavior.