“Things that matter most must never be at the mercy of things that matter least.” Goethe
Over the past few months, I’ve been thinking a lot about how to make time for what truly matters. I left my job three years ago to become a solopreneur. My mission was to do meaningful creative work on my own terms with people who want to change their lives. In addition, my intention was to have the flexibility that would allow me to incorporate other important things back into my life. I did it; mission accomplished!
However, as my life coaching practice grew I got busier and busier. I found myself mindlessly reacting to a perceived sense of urgency. Eventually,I was in the same mess I worked so hard to get out of! Go figure! This realization has caused me to stop, question and look more deeply at the things and people in my life that are important. Although the process is challenging, I am grateful for the perspective and awareness it has brought me.
I think we all tend to get distracted by the belief that we have to do more and more to be successful, that we have to prove something to ourselves or someone else,that we have to value what others think we should value. How many of us chase after a goal we think we “should” want, only to be miserable once we achieve it?
While I understand that this is all part of being human, I also recognize that when I get sidetracked like this, I’m not able to fully engage in the aspects of my life that are most important to ME! Does this happen to you?
Here are a couple of ideas that helped me realign my priorities. Maybe they can help you too.
1) Identify what truly matters to YOU.
It takes courage to focus on what truly matters. Some of the most important aspects of our lives are things that may seem “unimportant” or even silly to those around us. Other people may not understand, like, or agree with these things. You need to be honest and acknowledge what is meaningful to you and gives you satisfaction or joy.
Here’s an exercise that can help identify where your energy is spent and where you would like to spend it!
– Make a list of what you value most, the different aspects of your life.
You can either write this list down, in a journal, on a graph, a pie chart, or create a vision or inspiration board. These “aspects” will vary depending on your life, interests, priorities, etc. For most people, however, they tend to be things like family, personal development, spiritual growth, health, career success and satisfaction, making a difference in the world or your community, fun, finances, relationships, travel, adventure, creativity, home and more. Assigning a value, a ranking, to these aspects can be helpful.
– Make a list of the things you spend most of your time doing and thinking about.
Take an inventory of your day- today, the past few days, weeks and months, and make a list of where you spend your time and attention.
Then rank them in some way so that you’re clear about which activities, thoughts and relationships get your attention specifically, and how much value you assign to each of them.
– Compare the two lists and how they align.
As you compare these two lists, if you’re anything like me, you may notice that sometimes they’re quite different than you expect. Often what we SAY is most important to us isn’t the same as where we devote much of our time, energy and thought. Without judging yourself, be honest about where there are differences in these two lists and spend some time inquiring into why this is the case. And, as you think about this, ask yourself how you can create more alignment with these two lists. In other words, be more conscious and do whatever you can to focus more on what truly matters to you.
In other words, make the thing you have chosen to do the number one priority while you’re doing it! Focus with your full attention. See the value in where you are, while you’re there. Enjoy what’s happening, while it’s happening.
In the end, you will come to realize that the best days are the days when you spend at least some time doing what makes YOU happy! It doesn’t need to be anything extreme or special. You are in the moment and feel gratitude; not thinking about the next thing on your “to do” list. To me, that is what true happiness is all about.