One of the cornerstones of living a high quality life is to know what you value—what’s most meaningful in your life. Yet when our lives are all about completing the millions of tasks on our “to do” list, we often lose our perspective. We lose our ability to discern between what’s important and what’s not, because everything feels equally urgent, equally critical.

No matter how frantic life gets, the truly successful people are able to rise above the pandemonium and maintain their perspective. They can do this because they know what’s important. Their values are their compass and keep them on course, regardless of the confusion of life. These people maintain a vision of what truly matters, what their lives are about and what they want their lives to be.

 

What Really Matters

Think about those qualities and attributes you consider essential to living your best life. Make a list of these: they are the values you use to define yourself.

For example, your list might include such attributes as: integrity, honesty, playfulness, understanding, trustworthiness, responsibility, truth, creativity, adventurousness.

Remember, these are only a few suggestions. There are many more possibilities. Be sure you come up with a list that reflects your core values, not what you think you should value, but what you feel is truly important to you.

By clarifying your values, you can adjust your life so that you are investing your time and energy into those things you hold most sacred. Questions such as, What do I value? What’s most important to me? What do I really want? will not only help you understand yourself on a deeper level, they will ultimately refocus your life around what’s truly meaningful.

It’s actually not as important to understand the meaning of life than it is to understand the meaning of your life.

Now that you have a clearer picture of what you consider important, ask yourself, What do I need to change in order to have my values expressed more visibly in my everyday life? Is there anything I need to add to my life? Are there activities or commitments I need to eliminate?

I offer you this challenge: remain focused on who you truly are, what you believe in, and what you love. As you do, you will begin to create a life in which your outer life matches your more deeply held inner values and beliefs.

This feeling of being all of a piece is an essential ingredient in living the life you were meant to live.

 

Evaluate Your Priorities

The French philosopher Rene Descartes said, “I think therefore I am.” Our modern-day version of this philosophy has become “I do therefore I am.”

So many of us live by some version of that mantra: I have to keep up…I am what I do…I have to push myself…I have to prove my worth…I have to keep going. Many of us thought we left peer pressure behind back in the halls of high school, but find it’s still very much in operation in our adult lives.

Many home-based businesspeople have one clear priority: get through the day. Of course, no one will deny the importance of that, but it’s simply not enough. Too often we go through the bulk of our lives on a sort of autopilot, rarely pausing long enough to consider how we are actually spending our time and energy. Yet without taking the time to carefully determine whether or not your priorities match your reality and your values, you will continually and inevitably be out of sync with yourself.

Living a priority-centered life means balancing responsibilities to others with responsibility to oneself; obligations with enjoyment, work with play, activity with rest. It means finding a natural rhythm to one’s day-to-day life that will support an atmosphere of fulfillment. It means getting your priorities straight.

Think of your typical day and typical week. How do you spend your time? How much time do you devote to your family? How about your health and fitness? Religion or spiritual practice? Work? Personal interests and hobbies? Social time? Finances? Friendships?

The categories you choose may look somewhat different from these; feel free to customize them to reflect your life. Make a list in order of what gets the most to the least amount of your time. How you spend your time will make known your priorities.

You may be surprised to discover a discrepancy between what you thought your priorities were and what they actually are. It’s time to be honest with yourself and see what your life is telling you.

Is your life balanced? Are you overextended in one area? Is there an area that you’re neglecting? What percentage of your time is devoted to caring for others? What percentage is spent caring for yourself and doing things you love? Are you in sync with your core values? Are there any adjustments you need to make so that your life more closely reflects your values?

One of the greatest challenges home-based entrepreneurs face is balancing the wishes and expectations of other people (especially your family) with your own needs and desires. You must hold your priorities sacred. You must invest your time and energy in what you value. You have to commit yourself to make time for what’s important every single day.

Ask yourself every day, Is this what I want to be doing? If the answer is “no,” you can alter your course a little each day.

Changing course is a process. It happens slowly, incrementally, but if you are persistent, you will end up where you want to be.

 

STEPHANIE MARSTON, M.F.T.
is an acclaimed speaker and author of
Chicken Soup
to Inspire a Woman’s Soul and Life Lessons for
Women: 7 Essential Ingredients for a Balanced Life.
www.networkingtimes.com/link/marston