Home » Slow Living » Lifestyle

Learn To Figure Out What Matters Most In Our Life

10 minute read

Before I started practicing slow living, most days seemed rushed, and I was always busy doing something. When I finished one task, I immediately started another.

Yet, for all this effort, I never seemed to get everything done, and I seldom felt fulfilled in what I was doing.

After several months of working through why this was, I concluded that I lacked focus. I did not focus on what I wanted to do and what was most important to me, and I did not go about things the way I wanted.

Understand and prioritize what is important in your life.

Said another way, I failed to understand and prioritize what was important in my life. How I spent my days were not aligned with what I wanted out of life.

This disconnect made me unhappy and unhealthy, and with each passing day, I enjoyed life a little less.

We must identify what we find important in life before planning to obtain those things.

That is the reason I started to live slower. It won’t happen overnight, but the end result is living a fulfilling and happier life.

Slow living and identifying what is essential in life go hand in hand. Within that context, here are my recommendations for identifying the most desired things in your life.

These questions and exercises will help you zero in on what matters most to you in your life. It’s not science, but these worked for me and may help you too.

14 Questions To Identify What Matters Most To You In Life

Answer these questions, and you are on your way to understanding what is most important in your life.

1. Where do you spend your time?

We naturally steer ourselves to what we feel most comfortable doing and enjoy the most.

Spend some time reflecting on a typical day and ask yourself some of these questions:

  • Where do you go?
  • What do you do?
  • How do you feel?
  • Do you smile and laugh?

I do this in my head now, but when I started, I wrote down almost everything I did during the day. Then the next day, I went back and commented about likes and dislikes, moods, and whether what I did was necessary.

Our current daily patterns will serve as a good starting point for what matters most to us.

2. Where do you spend your money?

Where we spend our money is very telling to me because it is transactional.

We give something (money) to receive something (products and services).

So this requires thought and intention before we make a purchase. During this pre-purchase time, we can harvest some interesting things.

Make a list of all your money transactions for a week. Then go back and reflect on the following questions:

  • Was this a need or impulse?
  • Did it make you happy?
  • What did you do with the item?
  • Would you purchase again?

Understanding where and why we spend our money can help shed light on what matters (or not) in our life.

3. What do you daydream about?

When I first started practicing slow living, I used to daydream often. At the time, I was unhappy with my life, so it was an escape.

But then I intentionally started to encourage myself to daydream more and be more focused when I do.

Why? Because I was using it as an exercise to help define what I wanted in a lifestyle.

I started to envision what my days looked like. What I did for work, where I lived, and got very specific.

The more I did this, the more I noticed certain things repeated.

For example, I was always in a different location in my daydreams, so I knew travel was an essential aspect of the lifestyle I wanted.

Mindful daydreaming turned out to be a handy tool for me, and it may be for you too.

4. What do you value most in life?

Start with a simple exercise of writing down everything you feel you stand for and is an integral part of how you want to live your life.

I list my values on my about page (click here to read them), but some examples are:

  • I choose to live slowly in a world that seems to reward speed.
  • I am committed to being me, no matter what that may look like in an appearance-focused society.
  • I make wellness a priority and nourish the needs of my mind and body.

Understanding your values also includes understanding your emotions. I made a free workbook on emotional self-discovery to help in that process.

Once you get a handle on what you stand for (values), it will help guide your decisions on what is paramount in your life.

5. Where do you make commitments?

The commitments we make reveal what matters most to us, similarly to purchasing things, because it is also transactional.

Commitments represent our promise to someone (or ourselves) to do something until completion.

Take inventory of all the commitments you make and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you overextend yourself?
  • Are all obligations necessary?
  • What responsibilities can be removed?
  • How does each one make you feel?

Some commitments are fixed, like work and family. Although we can change how we honor those commitments, they are not going anywhere.

However, many commitments in our lives are dynamic, and we can be stingy with what we agree to.

Once I learned to say “No” more often to things not important to me, I had fewer commitments and, therefore, more free time in my life.

I always think twice before agreeing to do something.

6. When do you say yes and no?

I mentioned saying “No” more often in the prior section, but evaluating where we say yes and no to things is a great exercise.

We make countless yes or no decisions every day, and it is crucial to understand their reasons.

Do you say yes to things because you want to, you think you should, or are you seeking praise? Do you think saying no will be offensive?

For example, wellness is one of the most essential things in my life. I want to make my mind and body as healthy as possible.

Another important thing in my life is staying frugal and living within my budget.

So, it is a balancing act of learning when to say yes and no to wellness-related decisions since both are important.

I say yes if it meets two qualifications; it benefits my wellness and is within my budget. I say no if it does not fulfill either criterion.

7. What aspects of your life are important?

Here’s a blunt observation; not every aspect of our lives is essential, and most areas do not even matter.

I like to make money, have nice things, and go fishing, but they are not the most important thing in my life, and I can do without them.

I love my life now, but I don’t go fishing, I make little money (right now at least), and I don’t have nice things. In fact, I live out of a backpack as I slow travel around the globe (on a tight budget).

The exercise here is to write down the different aspects of your life that you would do anything to keep.

Family, friends, and wellness are essential aspects of life, but be stingy with what else gets on this list.

Then, don’t worry too much about anything not on the list.

8. What personal goals do you set?

Although slow living helps me create more free time in my day to play, it doesn’t mean I do not have goals. And I have them for work and play.

Goals help us organize thoughts, dreams, tasks, and aspirations professionally and personally.

In my experience, I learned two fundamental lessons in setting goals.

First, always include personal goals in your lifestyle. I always had professional goals but never personal goals, which is silly.

By setting goals for my personal life, my days have become more well-rounded and better balanced between work and play.

Second, I now make sure not to set too many goals, as I am mindful of how I want to live each day.

Slow living is about slowing down and creating more free time for things we want. So filling up our days with goals and tasks defeats the purpose.

Also, slow living is about living at a natural pace, which is different than rushing to finish something. So realize things will take a little longer and plan your days accordingly.

9. How do you allocate your time?

We get 24 hours in a day; for me, 9 of them go towards sleep, and at least another 3 for wellness-related activities like stretching, exercising, quiet time, and breathing exercises. On workdays, add another 8 hours.

That leaves me 12 hours a day to do what I want on non-work days and 4 hours on the days I work.

I often spend that free time taking a nap, watching a movie, and reading. I try to do something spontaneous and new every day too.

Before focusing on what I wanted in life, I used to go through life on autopilot.

The exercise is to observe how you currently spend your free time and then see where you want to tweak that list.

Most people don’t think about how much time we spend doing various things each day, so this can be a challenging exercise for some.

There is a section in a free workbook I created on self-discovery with several pages dedicated to helping you identify where you spend your time. Click here for that free workbook.

10. How much clutter do you have?

Clutter is a distraction from what we value most in our life.

Our closets, garages, and drawers are filled with reminders of purchases we no longer use, need, or care for.

We keep them either as trophies or because we don’t think to get rid of them.

Holding on to a grudge and other mental clutter also makes it challenging to identify what matters most to us.

When I removed the clutter from the different areas of my life, I felt light and free. It allowed me to see what possessions meant most and how I felt about things.

Decluttering is a big topic, too big for this post, at least. I plan to create a workbook on the subject, so sign up for my newsletter, and I’ll let you know when it is ready.

11. Who do you spend personal time with?

Spending time in person, on the phone, or even texting and emailing.

Our personal time should be protected like a nuclear missile silo, where we only let in highly classified people.

With that in mind, who we choose to spend time with is very telling; out of everyone in the world, who are the people you choose to let into your life?

Are there people you don’t want in your life anymore? Then figure out how to gently push them away. It’s your life, be a little greedy with what you want.

Life evolves and changes over time, so it shouldn’t be a surprise when we no longer want to hang out with someone.

It should be a relatively quick task to write down who we spend time with each week.

After that, figure out two things. Who on the list should be taken off, and who should be added to the list?

Then create a game plan and execute it.

12. Do you need quiet time?

Quiet time has become a vital part of my daily routine and one of the most essential things in my life. It reboots and refreshes my mind and helps me think clearly, calmly, and rationally.

Here is how I describe what quiet time is in my free slow living guide:

Quiet time is where we can focus on actually communicating with our emotions. We just need to be in a calm place, free our minds, relax our bodies, and listen.

Sitting in silence provides a mental canvass for self-reflection, allows our senses to relax and reboot, and lowers our blood pressure and adrenaline levels.

Quiet time and breathing exercises can lower stress and anxiety.

It is magic time.

Gregg Zambrovitz

Try spending 30 quality minutes a day in quiet time, and you will be surprised how well it improves your ability to think and reason.

13. Do you make wellness a priority?

Before practicing slow living, I never considered my mental and physical wellness when making life decisions.

When we talk about figuring out what is most important in life, how can we not include our mental and physical health?

Everything we do starts with our health.

The practice of slow living can enhance our lives, including making health a priority.

Think through what you need mentally and physically to be healthy and happy, be honest, and then work to fold those needs into your lifestyle.

Please make wellness one thing that matters most in your life.

14. Do you have secret desires?

Is there something you have always wanted to be an essential part of your life?

This may sound strange, but it happens to many people for various reasons.

Maybe there is someone who put aside a dream they had to raise a family. What is that dream, and is there still fire there? Now that the family is grown, is it time to make that dream a reality by making it one of the top things in your life?

The hypotheticals are endless, but the point is singular.

If there is something you have always wanted in life, now is the time to make it a reality. There is no sense in waiting.

Closing Thoughts

It takes practice to figure out what you want most in life, so just keep plugging away. The result is worth the work, I promise.

It was challenging to be honest when I started going through this process.

It is natural to have worries about what other people will think about your decisions.

Believe me, most people who know me would probably have never guessed I would be blogging about the benefits of the slow living lifestyle.

Be honest in identifying the most essential things you want in your life.

Then, go about living your perfect life. It’s out there within reach.

Thanks for reading.

P.S. Below is some footer stuff to consider.