The other day, I went on social media to ask “What are 5 most important things in your life?” As answers began to trickle in, I started wondering about my own values. This exercise just reaffirmed how important it is to be clear on what’s important to us. It also reminded how often we don’t do this and, instead, set goals (and worry about the things) that aren’t in line with our priorities.
How can we expect to go in a direction of our dreams and travel in line that is most authentic and meaningful to us if we don’t know what that is?
We need to discover our own, unique compass and then dedicate adequate focus and effort to follow it by doing and caring about the priorities that are most important to us.
All else is secondary.
Therefore, we should take the time to honestly figure out what those things are for us (instead of trying to say the “right thing” that would get an applause or a “like” on Facebook).
Some of our priorities will change with time and experience. The trick is not to prevent them from changing as we change and grow, but to always be aware of what’s most important to us and to follow that, not get distracted by the unnecessary clutter.
Here’s my list:
- Health. This includes physical, spiritual, emotional, and mental health. Each are equally important for our overall happiness and to assure we live an integrated life. Activities such as meditation, writing, eating healthy and well, exercising, quality relationships and a community, a belief in something greater than ourselves, and inner exploration and peace are some of the things which help assure we maintain and improve our overall health.
- Quality Relationships. Meaningful relationships are essential to our wellbeing. People from Aristotle to today’s many researchers and psychologists have all concluded that having a community and rewarding relationships, as difficult as they may be at times, is critical to our wellbeing and a meaningful human experience. More pertinent and directly relevant to me is that I love people (and animals!) and interacting with other two-legged and four-legged beings makes me a better human being too and enriches my life exponentially.
- Ability to contribute. I am very driven by a desire to impact the world for the better, and the ability to contribute in a meaningful and positive, even transformative way is really important to me. Simply put: it makes me tick. Therefore, I have been trying for a while now–and will continue to do so–to be deliberate in lowering the number of meaningless activities I engage in on a daily basis and focus on spending my time in a way that is consistent with this value. That is to say: the best way to honor this value is to focus on creating a greater impact.
- Intellectual stimulation. I love learning and am naturally very curious. I am also rarely bored by life … how can one be bored with so much (left) to explore and so much to learn? The more I learn, the more I realize just how little I know!
- Adventure. I use this overarching term to combine my desire for seeing the world and living my life to its fullest–the good stuff, the bad stuff, and even the ugly stuff, too. I think it was Helen Keller who once said, “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” I care that my life be a daring adventure, even though, at times, daily headaches take over the bigger picture.
Of course, there are other things that are really important to me like freedom, or the basic necessities such as food, drink, and shelter. But, I like to think, these are inherent. Without basic freedoms and essential survival needs met, it’s not likely I would give a hoot about much else. Likewise, if I had these needs met but lived without good health, relationships, opportunities to give of myself, or to learn and explore life, I would likely be very unhappy and unfulfilled.
Interestingly, as I thought about this question and read the answers from others, no one mentioned great clothing, a fancy title, or an iPhone as priorities in life. Or even money! Even though we pay a lot of attention to and spend a lot of time chasing some of these things, it’s encouraging to know that, when it comes to it, we will be contemplative, thoughtful, and ultimately deep in choosing the values that really matter in a big scheme of things. Of course, the question is then, why aren’t we focused on our core values daily instead of chasing after other goals?
Perhaps it’s because we don’t know what these values are. Or maybe we forget. Or maybe we don’t care enough. Maybe we think it doesn’t really matter. Maybe we just focus on the little, daily stuff instead of the bigger, overarching themes.
Whatever your reason for not knowing, or not focusing, on your core values, here’s hoping that this post has inspired you (or, at least, intrigued you enough) to take a moment and consider what 5 things are most important to you, and use those as a guiding light in your life (and in your business)–today and always.