I am convinced wholeheartedly that starting with a focus on values, no matter the endeavor, increases the chances for success. This process of starting with an examination of values is especially important when attempting to paint. Even if the results are not quite what you envision, the lessons learned from examining the relationships of the values within an image are worth much more than the time invested in the process. This process will get you closer to the truth, help convey emotion and help you see the true nature of nature.
I owe a ton to those artists who are ahead of me in their creative journey. Especially those who share free instructional content. This whole concept of examining values through a thumbnail sketch and starting a painting by focusing on the "Shadow Patterns" is an idea espoused by artist Phil Starke.
When I decided to start oil painting this helped me identify a tangible and achievable first step in the process of painting. It is likely I would not have ever achieved any progress without this knowledge. Layer on top of this the technique of blocking in a tonal, values based under-painting with a towel as demonstrated by Kyle Buckland in his online demonstrations and I found my foundational principals to start painting expressively, without much anxiety and I was on my way...
Perhaps this same approach can be useful with many other things. Start with an examination of values when considering how are fits into daily life, how to priorities tasks and chores when planning out our day, who we will spend time with, how much we will let unimportant things bother us, what sorts of projects we will take on or where exercise and diet fit within the hierarchy of values available to us within our lives. If nothing else, it is interesting to think about all this through the prism of values and within the realm of creating art.
“A painter should begin every canvas with a wash of black, because all things in nature are dark except where exposed by the light.”
― Leonardo da Vinci