How to focus on the truly important things in life

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Sometimes we feel like we should be devoting all of our time to work on our projects, our careers, our business if we have one. If we’re not working, we feel lazy. We feel like everyone else is getting ahead of us, even though it’s not a competition.

Things like seeing our family, friends, doing hobbies we love, even reading or learning something new, can quickly seem like a waste of time. We know that they’re important, but we have the tendency to take them for granted sometimes – after all, they’ll still be there when our project is done, right?

But the workflow might never cease. Working all the time can leave you stressed, exhausted and feeling like you’re missing out on too many things. Work that you originally loved becomes a chore, and you lose your motivation to keep going.

But how do you keep a balance between work and other truly important things in life? How do you keep your motivation long-term while staying true to yourself?

1. Find out what things are truly important in your life

We all have different values. You can’t just follow someone else’s lifestyle and expect it to make you happy. Instead, you need to find out what really matters to you.

There are different ways of doing so. One method that I really like is described by Stephen R. Covey and suggests that you imagine your own funeral. What would you want people to say about you? What would you want them to remember you by? Imagine your family, friends, colleagues, neighbours, and how you would want them to remember you. This will be the essence, the core of what you want to achieve and how you want to act.

Then, think about the different roles you have. You are someone’s child, parent, partner, a business owner, employee, friend, member of a club. Your person is made up of all these roles, and you can’t limit yourself to being just a business owner, for example. Instead, you need to make time for every role of yours, depending on how important it is to you.

If you’re not a fan of these mind experiments, there are also tons of different tests you can take to figure out your values. Just google it and try some of them!

Knowing your values is crucial. It will help you base your daily actions on something you believe in and focus on the truly important things in your life.

For me, I know that I want to be there for family and friends, add value to people’s lives (in person and in my career), keep learning new things and add positivity to the world instead of spreading negativity. This seems so simple, yet it helps me set my priorities every day. And it also guides my daily actions: for example, every time I feel like gossiping, I remind myself that I can’t do that in accordance with my values, and it helps me become the person I want to be.

2. Follow the pyramid of needs

Have you ever noticed how when you’re really hungry or thirsty, this need seems to take over your thoughts? Or how when someone in your family gets sick, their recovery suddenly becomes the only thing that matters?

How to focus on the truly important things in life

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs shows this phenomenon very clearly. The bottom parts of the pyramid need to be fulfilled for you to focus on the top. For example, career was always so important to me. But when I first got IBS, my health suddenly became the centre of my attention. In comparison, my career seemed less important.

But what does this mean for everyday life? Well, it shows you that you can’t take things for granted. Your basic needs need to be fulfilled for you to focus on your higher needs.

Making time for the different parts of your pyramid of needs regularly will help you achieve a balanced lifestyle. Getting enough sleep, eating well and exercising will help you be healthy, happy and work more efficiently. With the love and support of your family, friends, and partner, you will feel much more inspired and motivated to focus on achieving your career goals.

3. Prioritise truly important things

According to Stephen R. Covey, we spend too much time focusing on urgent things rather than to focus on important things. We reply to unnecessary emails and treat urgent requests all day, thereby neglecting truly important things like our health, loved ones, and moving forward in our career.

Our days only have 24 hours, and the only way to live according to our different values, roles, and needs, is to prioritise the truly important things in our life. And in order to find time for them, we need to cut back on unimportant tasks, even if they might seem urgent.

Just examine the tasks you do every day. Do they add value to your life in the long run? Do they match your values? Will they help you get where you want to go?

4. Do important things regularly

New habits are far easier to integrate into our lives when we do them regularly. If you go to the gym once a week, it’s easy to stop. After all, you already weren’t going 6 days of the week, anyway. But if you start exercising 20 minutes a day, it will slowly become part of your routine that you won’t want to miss. I’ve tried both and believe me when I say that doing a little bit every day makes a world of a difference.

Don’t leave sleep for the weekend, either. Instead, go to bed a little bit earlier every day instead of watching too many episodes of a Netflix show (not important!).

Focusing on important aspects of life on a daily basis will significantly increase your happiness and success.

Plan ahead to spend quality time with loved ones, and integrate it into your daily to-do list. After all, we just saw that it’s just as important as working on your career!

how to focus on the truly important things in life

So here you go, these are my tips on how to focus on the truly important things in life. I hope that you found them helpful! Please let me know what you think in the comments. 🙂

21 Replies to “How to focus on the truly important things in life”

  1. ”And it also guides my daily actions: for example, every time I feel like gossiping, I remind myself that I can’t do that in accordance with my values, and it helps me become the person I want to be.”
    I love this aligning your daily actions with the best version of yourself.
    I was just journaling about this today while visualizing the life I want to live and asking myself how do I need to act in order to get there.
    Also, I like how you add research to your posts!

    1. Thank you! 🙂 I really believe that the things we do all the time shape who we are, so the only way to become a better version of yourself is to constantly take little steps towards it.

  2. What a straightforward way of explaining something quite complicated and nebulous. I’m going to apply this to my behaviour and see how things change x

    1. I’m so glad that you found it straightforward! I hope this works work you 🙂

  3. Prioritizing the important things in life is really important. We should schedule time for emotional healing and do whatever makes us feel good about ourselves. Doing the things that we love will add to the state of our mind which will, in turn, make us more productive and creative. This was a truly fun read 🙂

    1. Thank you. 🙂 And I totally agree that taking time for things you love makes you more productive overall. You might feel like you’re wasting time when you take a break, but in reality, you get to recharge and work much waster afterwards.

  4. THIS is exactly what I needed to read. I’ve been struggling with work, work, work, let myself go and just feel down all the time. I realized I stopped doing the things that made me happy and just worried about paying off never-ending debt. This past week I told myself I need to do what makes me happy. Thanks for writing this! =)

    1. I’m so glad that it helped! 🙂 I totally get caught up in work, too – but taking breaks do to things that make you happy will make you feel so much more energized and productive afterwards!

  5. “Do important things reguarly” is something I have to was peek on specifically sleep. I am the person you described as staying up late watching Netflix to”unwind” and go to bed late only to wake up with barely any rest. Great tips!

    1. Thank you! I’m that person too. 😉 But I totally agree with you, sleeping enough is so important and it actually helps you be more productive, too!

  6. I so agree with this! I honestly think that time management is more of a priority problem than anything else. Great post!

    1. I think that too! Thank you. 🙂

  7. I love the idea of importance vs urgency, so true!

    1. It is, right? When I read about it for the first time, it was such a revelation!

  8. I don’t think that some people actually take the time or more so devote any time in their lives to find out who they really are. Everyone always makes excuses as to why they don’t have enough time to focus on themselves or they end up feeling guilty for just taking time to focus on the one person that has to get through this like…themselves. This is really good information.

    1. You’re so right! I definitely went through a phrase where I was just finding excuses, just like you say. But once you realise that the only one responsible for your own happiness is you, you can actually start working on it!

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