Taking a long-term view on the direction we want our lives to move in, helps guide us to identify, and ultimately achieve, our long-term goals. It also allows us to test whether our short term goals (connected to our list of the things that matter) are really the right ones.
Asking the big questions like what gives my life meaning or what would make my life worthwhile is a valuable exercise, but it’s not easy. That’s because the considerations are so deeply tied into what society is telling us should be our goals. It’s also complicated by philosophical theories and religious and family values.
For these reasons it can be more restrictive and confusing than liberating.
Another way of looking at this is to identify what we place a high value on. These are the things that bring joy and happiness to our lives, and hopefully through us, to the lives of those we care about. When these are closely linked to our short-term goals, we can be confident that we are making the right daily decisions.
Let me share with you some of my list of things that have a high value so you know where I’m coming from.
What I value above all else
I know I’m making the right choices when:
- my body is flexible and my mind is calm
- I’m able to spend time with family and friends
- my work gives me pleasure
- I can afford to be generous with time and money
- I have free time to pursue my personal interests
I could also express this as being free, self-sufficient and liberated.
Of course, just making a list doesn’t make it happen. There are plans to be made, obstacles to be identified and overcome and tasks to be completed. What it gives us though are some worthwhile long-term goals, and the ability to know when we are on track to reach them. It also lets us know when we are off-track.
The consequences of actions
One more point needs to be made. When we make decisions and take actions (or refrain from taking actions) based on greed or anger or fear, we are sure to attract negative reactions. The same is true for setting goals.
There is bound to be a degree of selfishness (greed) in our long-term goals. We need to recognise this and accept that all our decisions and actions have consequences. We therefore need to minimise the negative effects our decisions will have on ourselves and others. We can do this by using what we achieve, (for example time and money) wisely, and in ways that do not harm others. With making decisions comes responsibility.
Now it’s your turn. Create a list of what you value the most. Work on the list and revise it over the next few days. Finally match your list to the things that matter.
Remember to review your list often