Do you have difficulty making choices? Do you have clearly defined goals for your life? When we are not clear on what we want, we often take what life gives us or allow ourselves to be influenced by what we see around us. Most of us are manipulated by the outside world and let society dictate what should be important to us. I am certainly not immune to this influence, but I have made a considerable effort to gain awareness around my most important choices. These are deeply important choices like who I want to be and what kind of life I want to live.
For many years I drove a really nice car. Every three years, I got a new model of this luxury car brand. I came up with many reasons for keeping the vehicle even though I travel a lot and live in a city with such a good infrastructure that I don’t need to drive. On some level, it had become a symbol of my success. Somewhere in my unconscious, there was probably the voice of my teenage self that said, how will you ever get a girlfriend without a car. Admittedly the car had become part of my identity. Then in 2019, I decided to try living without a car. Rather than a sense of loss from being carless, I felt liberated and quickly realised it was never something I wanted but only what I saw many other successful people have.
I have given some workshops on time management, and one of the tools I share is the Eisenhower principle. This simple tool helps people organise their tasks into four categories: urgent and important, not urgent and important, urgent not important, and not urgent, not important. The two not important categories can be filled with things we do habitually regardless of whether they benefit us or time-wasters and distractions. However, they are also often filled with things other people want us to do that are not important to us. If your life is so filled with obligations and things you “should” do, then you may need to question if you have time for what is important to you.
These are two examples of ways we can lose sight of what is important to us. Many people spend time and money in ways that the external world encourages without considering what is most important to them. My coaching discussions will sometimes include managing time and finances. In such cases, the most important thing I encourage people to do is to prioritise. However, before this is possible, it is essential to get clear on personal values. One of the most significant contributors to people’s dissatisfaction or unhappiness is that they are working jobs and living lives that are at least in part in contrast with their core values. Understanding our core values can help make it easier to understand what we really want. From there, one can prioritise and determine what is actually important. If the things you are spending most of your time and energy on aren’t making you happy, maybe it’s time to find better ways to evaluate what is important to you.