Does What Mattered Most, Matter Anymore?



And you may find yourself living in a shotgun shack
And you may find yourself in another part of the world
And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile
And you may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife

And, in the insightful words of David Byrne, you may ask yourself - did I get here?

When you were growing up, what did a successful life look like? Did it wear a nice suit? Was it sitting in a big office? Was it driving a new car every year? Was it living in a big house in the right neighborhood?  Was it falling in love with the perfect person and having the perfect family? If these are the things that mattered most to you, chances are, you have most of them. So you should be happy. Right?

And you may ask yourself:
What is that beautiful house?
And you may ask yourself:
Where does that highway go?
And you may ask yourself:
Am I right? ... Am I wrong?

People are often trying to live their lives the way they have observed or have been taught. People learn quickly that everyone who looks happy has a good job, a nice house, a loving family. So, these are the things that must matter most. So, they do. Then on some sunny day, just when you think you’ve finally arrived, someone asks, “Are you happy?” And you instinctively respond, “Of course!”

And you may tell yourself:
My god! What have I done?

“When it comes to answering that enigmatic question, ‘What matters most?’ it seems many people begin to realize they’ve simply been going through the motions. Many hear a little voice proclaiming, “Well, I did what I was supposed to do: I finished college, I got a good paying job, I’m respected, I’m playing ball. I got good seats. I married someone I loved. So, why aren’t I happy yet?” Often, the answer lies in another question: Does what mattered most to you in the past, matter most, now?

We need to determine what matters most to us because the world is full of opportunities, distractions, information and people who want something from us. It’s very difficult to hear the voice of your own soul amid so much clutter. Unless we’re confident about what we want to be remembered for, someone or something else will figure all that stuff out for us. Such a state can only be likened to slavery, and it greatly endangers your opportunity to experience happiness.

But, what if we dig down and actually think about who we are and what we value? By realizing what matters most, we engage in a process of discovery that reveals the things that are important to us. Once we identify these things, we are then able to focus on the value and importance of our relationships with others and ourselves.

Here’s an effective framework and exercise you can use as a guide in the discovery of what matters most in your life.  The Ladder of Life consists of 5 rungs representing key aspects of an individual’s existence.

 The first 2 rungs on the Ladder are Spirit and Health - the “I” of life. Taking care of yourself spiritually and physically provides a solid foundation for all other aspects of life.

The next rung is Relationships - the “We” of life. Once an individual understands what matters to them, s/he can begin determining what is most important in their relationships.

The top rungs of the ladder are Craft and Community. Here is where we all have the opportunity to share, teach, help ourselves and others thrive and grow. We operate most effectively in these arenas when we have a solid sense of our selves and our relationships.

Take some time to examine your life in each of these areas. Use the iMatter 5 Minute Check In™ ( or, simply make a list of the things that are most important to you at each rung of the ladder, why they’re important, and what you can do each day to take care of those things. Discuss your list with someone close to you and modify where needed. Keep the list close at hand, review it routinely and adjust it as circumstances in your life change. 

Many who have travelled this path of self-discovery have been surprised to discover that creating harmony and happiness in their life isn’t about doing more of something or doing something new and different, but instead getting rid of some of the things that just don’t matter most and focusing on the things that really do matter most.