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Exercise: What Matters Most

This four-part exercise is best done over the course of a few days. Allow at least one day, but no more than three, between each of the four parts. These practices are intended to help you connect with what naturally motivates and engages you. It is important to write your responses as if no one else will be reading them.

1.) Write down two or three paragraphs about the things that matter most to you. Do this relatively quickly, in under ten minutes. Don’t edit yourself – keep writing without stopping. When you can no longer write without pausing, put down what you wrote, and revisit it two or three days later.

2.) Before returning to what you wrote in the first part of the exercise, choose two moments or circumstances in your life that made a lasting impact on you. Write down both of these. Choose one of these moments and create a one-to-two page narrative around it. First, write down in detail what it was that made a lasting impact. Write down all you remember about your experience, during and after: your thoughts, what you saw, physical experiences, emotions. Finally, write a paragraph or two about how this moment/experience left an indelible imprint on you.

3.) Pick up your paragraph/s from the first day. Go through each item and ask, “Is this true for me?” At the top of a separate page, list all the items to which you responded “yes”. Write down how each of these values manifests in your life. Be as specific as possible. Think of as many ways as possible.

4.) In the fourth and final part of this exercise, return to what you wrote for the last exercise. Reflect upon ways in which you could infuse your life even more with the values you have articulated. Are there ways that you could dedicate more time to what matters? If so, what activities that don’t matter as much can be reduced? Important for this part of the exercise is that you come up with real, do-able concrete steps or activities. In the two weeks following this exercise, set your intention to implement at least one of these concrete steps.

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