Knowing What Matters to You Instead of Living by Default

Happy Family

“It’s not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: what are we busy about?” ~Henry David Thoreau

If you are like most people reading this, I bet that you are very busy. We are all very busy. In fact, some of us even like to brag about just how busy we are. But are you busy doing the things that really matter to you?

There was a time when my life when I was busy. I was focused on my career, spending a lot of time at work, and enjoying the fruits of my labor.

This was okay for a while, but after months and months of working seventy hour weeks, it became a struggle for me to just make it through the day. I began to wish that things would slow down enough for me to be able to enjoy life.

Maybe you have been there too. Maybe you are experiencing this right now. You wish that your life would slow down so that you can enjoy the things that really matter to you.

In my case, I forced myself to keep going, and everything was fine for a while. Then one day I woke up with a sore throat.

I felt a stabbing pain every time that I tried to swallow, and I decided to take the day off and visit the doctor. The doctor told me that I had an abscess in one of my tonsils, and he had me immediately admitted to the hospital.

Later that day the abscess broke and the infection surrounded my heart. I was so sick that my doctors didn’t think that I would make it through the day.

Have you ever been told that you might not make it through the day? It is not a good place to be in life, but it does make you think about what really matters.

When you are lying in a hospital bed, and you don’t know if you are going to live or die, you spend a lot of time thinking about what is really important in life.

If you are like me, you will discover that it is not your job, or your money, or the things in your life. It is your health, and your relationships with the people who matter the most to you.

I am sharing my story with you today because I don’t want you to experience what happened to me. I want you to spend your time on the things that matter most to you before it is too late. I want you to decide what is important to you, and create a plan to get there.

Here are four tips that helped me, and they can also help you to begin to focus on what matter most:

Determine your priorities.

Think about what you want most out of life. What were you created for? What is your mission in life? What is your passion? You were put on this earth for a reason, and knowing that reason will help you determine your priorities.

I spent a total of four months in the hospital healing from my sickness. During that time I spent a lot of time thinking about my purpose in life. I discovered that my purpose is to help you change your lives by learning to focus on what matters most to you.

Create a plan.

Create a plan to get from where you are today to where you want to be. Maybe you need a new job. Maybe you need to go back to school. Maybe you need to deal with some relationship issues. Whatever it is, create a plan that will get you to where you want to be.

While I was in the hospital, I began to draft my life plan. My plan guides all of my actions, helps me focus on my relationships with my wife and daughter, and helps me keep working toward my life purpose. A life plan will help you focus your life too.

Focus on now.

Stop multitasking and focus on one thing at a time. It may be a project at work. It may be a conversation with your best friend. It may just be the book that you have wanted to read for months. The key is to focus on one thing at a time.

I plan each day the night before by picking the three most important tasks from my to-do list. In the morning I focus on each one of these task individually until they are completed. Once I complete these three tasks I move on to checking email, returning phone calls, etc.

Just say no.

We all have too much to do and too little time. The only way that you are going to find the time for the things that really matter is to say no to the things that don’t.

I use my purpose and life plan to make decisions about the projects and tasks that I say yes to. If a project or task is not aligned with my purpose, a good fit with my life plan, and something that I have time to accomplish, I say no to the project. Saying no to good opportunities gives you time to focus on the best opportunities.

Research tells us that 97% of people are living their life by default and not by design. They don’t know where their life is headed, and don’t have a plan for what they want to accomplish in life.

These steps will help you too decide what matters most to you. They will help you to begin living your life by design and not by default. Most importantly, they will help you to create a life focused on what really matters to you.

Let me end by asking, “What really matters most to you?”

Happy family image via Shutterstock

About Steve Spring

Steve is the author of Live Your Life On Purpose, and his goal is to help you restore a sense of balance and create some margin in your insanely busy life by living your life purpose. Steve loves coffee, sailing, and being near the ocean. Check out Live Your Life On Purpose or find him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

See a typo or inaccuracy? Please contact us so we can fix it!