Never Lose Sight of What Is Important

In my company, every Monday we have a kickstart session first thing in the morning. It’s basically just a half hour to refresh from the weekend and put ourselves into a positive state for the coming work week. It’s been a while, since I was away for three months maternity leave, but I was asked to handle kickstart yesterday and I happily did.

I played a game called “What’s Most Important in Life”. (No, if you Google, you won’t find it. 😝 The game is originally mine, but feel free to use it in your own modules/icebreakers.)

Basically, I asked everyone to take three minutes, and the activity is to list down 5 things you cannot live without. It has to be serious. Think food and water. Think shelter. And list those five things down, ranking the items from first to fifth of importance. Mine would be:

  1. Family
  2. Health
  3. Food and Water
  4. Shelter
  5. Money

Once you are done, take a minute and list two things you cannot be happy without. Really think about it. If the item is in the first list, then feel free to move it over to the second list. Ask the question. Is it something I really can’t live without, or is it something I can live without but will not make me happy? Someone might put ‘Cigarettes’ in the first list, for example, then decide that actually, they can survive without cigarettes, but it just won’t make them happy. So they move it to the second list. My two things were:

  1. Friends
  2. Time

Once the two lists were done, I asked them to pick a partner or two and just compare their lists. I then asked what was most common in everyone and wrote the stuff on the board to do a debrief.

It boiled down to, really, more or less the same things that were in my list. Family. Money. Food and water. Friends. And that’s the whole point of the exercise.

Often, we become unhappy because life isn’t at a certain point that we want it to be. We feel that getting that new car, or a bigger house, or a vacation, or a specific number in our bank accounts, would make us happy – so happy, in fact, that we may lose sight of what is more important. When we bare our lives down to the basics, the realisation should come that actually, life could be worse for most of us. And that on a basic level, most of us are actually still doing pretty okay.

Today, I made the decision to put my career and dreams on hold, just for a little while. Where I had envisioned myself to be once I reach my 30s, well… I decided that it’s okay if I take my time and reach there once I’m in my 40s instead. Because life, my life, is no longer just about me anymore. It’s about my family. My husband, and my baby. And that’s okay, sometimes even expected. Our priorities will shift as we grow older, and if anything, it’s a sign we have become more mature. It’s a sign that we have something to live for, apart from ourselves.

In my second list, I put ‘Time’ because I need time to be happier than I currently am. More time to write. To read. To pursue my passions. To spend with my family. But we are given only 24 hours a day, so we need to choose, within the limits that we have, how much time we want to spend for what is most important for us. Call me an idealist, but I believe that if we really chase our passions, life will somehow work out for us. Because we know our priorities and what’s most important.

Does it matter so much, if we wait another ten years to buy a house? Or to build a business? Or to go on vacation? If by waiting, it means I can focus on what is truly important to me right now, then I’d say.

No. It doesn’t really matter at all.

Maibreakstheice is a blog where I like to tackle life questions through my personal experiences and, where applicable, through my knowledge as a graduate in family counselling. Keep your eye out for updates every Tuesday, or subscribe via email to receive updates straight to your mailbox!

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