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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?
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!
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. 🙂