Your 168: Finding Purpose and Satisfaction in a Values-Based Life

May 27, 2020


Put your values first and focus on what matters most.

Your168-web.jpgDespite our good intentions, many of us experience a chronic imbalance between the desire to live our values and the distractions and never-ending to-do lists that can get in the way. In Your 168: Finding Purpose and Satisfaction in a Values-Based Life, readers learn how to pursue a values-based life by identifying and committing to their values and priorities. The book is written by bestselling author Harry Kraemer, former Chairman and CEO of Baxter International and currently a professor of management and strategy at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, where he was a Professor of the Year. Kraemer uses personal stories and insights from others to help readers discover the dissonance between what they say is most important and where they actually devote their time. This is an eye-opener for most people, uncovering the obstacles to leading a value-based life.

In Your 168, you will learn how to make changes and build new habits that put your values first by:

● Using self-reflection to identify what matters most and become more aware of how you spend your time

● Re-evaluating priorities such as career, family, health, recreation, spirituality, and making a difference

● Avoiding unpleasant “surprises” and “hitting the brick wall”

● Experiencing better balance in real time amid shifting priorities—personally and professionally

Fans of Kraemer's previous books on values-based leadership will embrace this new release—Your 168: Finding Purpose and Satisfaction in a Values-Based Life. The book provides actionable advice, filled with tips on how to live a life of meaning and experience a greater sense of purpose. Everyone will feel inspired to make lasting change.

The excerpt below comes from the Introduction to the book and the beginning of Chapter One.  

All of Harry’s proceeds from the book sales are donated to the One Acre Fund in Africa.



Like most math majors, I have a favorite number. Mine is 168. Often, when I ask my students to guess its significance, about one in ten figures it out. It’s the number of hours in a week. No matter who you are, what you do for a living, where you live, or how productive you are, you only get 168 hours a week. The only difference is how you spend that time.

It’s not about working x hours a week and then having the remaining hours for “other things.” It’s not working or living, remember? To have true balance among different components of your life—the areas you say are the most important—you need to allocate your time just as you would any precious resource. You can accomplish this by being self-reflective and accountable for how you spend your time.



For the past 15 years, I have been teaching, writing, and speaking about values-based leadership. In my first book, From Values to Action: The Four Principles of Values-Based Leadership, I addressed how anyone at any level can become a values-based leader by following four foundational principles:

  • Self-reflection to identify and reflect on what you stand for, what your values are, and what matters most
  • Balance to see situations from multiple perspectives, including differing viewpoints, to gain a holistic understanding
  • True self-confidence to accept yourself and recognize your strengths and weaknesses, while focusing on continuous improvement
  • Genuine humility to never forgot who you are, appreciating the unique value of each person and treating everyone with respect

From becoming a values-based leader, the next step was to develop a values-based organization, which was the subject of my second book, Becoming the Best: Build a World-Class Organization through Values-Based Leadership. This book explored the “five bests” starting with becoming your best self. From there, it’s about forming the best team within the organization, being the best partner with customers and suppliers, being recognized as a best investment, and committing to social responsibility as a best citizen.

With the publication of these two books, I have traveled the world delivering more than 1,000 talks (and counting) to several hundred thousand people. The message of values-based leadership resonates as much in the US as it does in Europe, Latin America, and Asia. It applies equally to people in all fields: technology, health care, financial services, retail, academics, and philanthropy. For people at every level—from the CEO to people starting out in their careers and those who are still in school—being a values-based leader in a values-based organization will enhance their lives.

There are challenges. In fact, with every talk I give, people tell me, “This sounds great, Harry, but I’m not sure how I can get all this done. I have so many things going on. How can I do this?”

My answer is this latest book: Your 168: Finding Purpose and Satisfaction in a Values-Based Life.


To live a values-based life, you need to know what your values are. Then, you make a sincere and ongoing effort to live your life so that what you do and how you act reflect those values. Sounds pretty straightforward, doesn’t it? But notice I said, “sincere and ongoing effort.” The reality is no matter how dedicated you are to living a values-based life, you’re always a work in progress. Nobody gets it right all the time. In my more than 40 years of pursuing a values-based life, I’m constantly recalibrating how to allocate my 168 hours each week to reflect my values and what I believe is most important in my life. That’s the only way I know of to pursue life balance.

Life balance … doesn’t mean work-life balance—a concept that always confused me because it seems to indicate a choice between working and living. Our lives are multifaceted. Many of us devote a great deal of time to work—let’s hope, doing work we find meaningful and satisfying. But there is more to our lives than work. We have other priorities that might include family, friends, and/or others within our community. We have leisure activities that bring enjoyment and enrich our lives. We want to be healthy and pursue some kind of exercise. Spirituality may be important, and maybe we want to make a positive impact in the community or even globally.

Don’t mistake life balance for time management. The primary goal here is not to become incredibly efficient with your time, although that might be one of the benefits of engaging in this process. The primary goal is life balance. It comes down to … the specific areas into which we allocate our time, attention, and effort. By focusing on our chosen life buckets, we can pursue life balance—with the caveat that we won’t be in balance all the time. Rather, we’ll be constantly recalibrating and rebalancing.

The only way to achieve life balance is by becoming self-aware through self-reflection. Your commitment to living your life aligned with your values won’t always be easy. Countless demands, distractions, and unexpected challenges will get in the way. But the payoff for engaging in the pursuit of life balance is to have more joy, satisfaction, purpose, and meaning, and a lot less worry, fear, anxiety, pressure, and stress.


Excerpted with permission of the publisher, Wiley, from Your 168 by Harry M. Jansen Kraemer Jr..
Copyright © 2020 by Harry M. Jansen Kraemer Jr..
All rights reserved.
This book is available wherever books and ebooks are sold.



Harry M. Jansen Kraemer, Jr., is Professor of Management and Strategy at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management, where he teaches in the MBA and the Executive MBA programs and was a Professor of the Year. He is an executive partner with Madison Dearborn Partners, one of the largest private equity firms in the United States, and is former Chairman and CEO of Baxter International Inc., a multi-billion-dollar global healthcare company. Kraemer is the bestselling author of From Values to Action and Becoming the Best.

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