What matters most in life?

Coloured balloons in the skyPhoto credit – Luca Upper via unsplash.com

What matters most in life is different for each of us. It becomes more important when an aspect our life is threatened though. When the things we take for granted are shaken – not stirred. This happened to someone I know recently. 

An unexpected stroke
This person celebrated her 50th birthday with a party. It was a great event with friends and family around. There was good food and wine, great company and entertainment. The next day, she had a stroke. The cause is unknown, despite exhaustive tests.  She is being monitored, but has made a full recovery.

But a stroke is a stroke. It is a significant event – whether it be mild, or severe. And, it can happen again – with no warning. It puts things into perspective though. If you are close to the person and see yourselves as similar, it follows that you think about your own frailty. It makes you think – am I happy with my life? Is there anything I would regret if I knew it would end soon?

Life matters
Not wanting to be maudlin here, but it is easy to get caught up with the humdrum of life, into a rhythm of existence rather than a life you love living. There all sorts of pressures on people to work and make enough money to support themselves and their families. The uncertainty of the times doesn’t make this any easier.

Marshall Goldsmith is a business coach who is interested in helping people to lead the lives they want. He says there are six things that matter most.

  1. Health – are you doing your best to stay healthy?
  2. Wealth – are you taking care of your financial arrangements for the income you need?
  3. Positive relationships – are you working hard to build positive relationships with people you love?
  4. Achievement – do you feel like you are making a positive impact or difference?
  5. Happiness – are you simultaneously achieving happiness and meaning?
  6. Meaning – are you doing what is meaningful for you and makes you happy at the same time?

    No one can define happiness for you but you. No one can define meaningfulness for you but you.
    Taken from Marshall Goldsmith’s video, What matters most in life?

Marshall suggests the order of these is important, and that health underpins everything else. It stands to reason that health does impact your ability to achieve the other five. It also seems in sync with the work of others (I’m thinking Maslow) who suggest your basic needs are to be satisfied before more altruistic and philosophical ones can be.

What matters most to YOU, in life?
In this era, people have diverse expectations of what matters most. There are those who want to make a lot of money, those for whom a modest lifestyle is more important – and everything in between. The same applies to scales of recognition and career/civic achievements.

How do you gear your life to get into the desired zone though? Or, even before that – how do you know what you want? People often say things like “follow your passion” … but sometimes you have to have a little of the humdrum to know what you don’t want. You have to try different lifestyles to see which ones fit you and which don’t. And, you will change your mind anyway as you progress into different stages of your life.

What matters to me?
At the moment, I have a very full life. It is in two parts. One is my corporate, professional life working in an environment that is stimulating, enjoyable and rewarding – for four days a week. Then for three days I am in a ski resort, volunteering as a mountain guide, skiing the slopes and enjoying the white wonderland. It feels like I live a double life. The combination is energising. They are so completely different that each is a complete change before I return to the other.

Despite my own health challenges earlier this year, I find this combination of lifestyles is working well. The downside is I don’t spend as much time with Monsieur Controleur as I would like. The upside? We are always happy to be reunited.

I am managing the boundaries between work and other life activities. I am enjoying the relationships I have with people in each aspect of my week. Would I change anything? No. It will all change anyway in a few short months. The snow will melt as the ski season ends and my work contract will conclude too. For the moment, all is good and I am enjoying the moments each offers!

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