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What Matters Most? Figure that out and everything else falls into place

by Diane

What matters most in life is different for everyone. What matters most to me, probably wouldn’t even be on your radar. And, that’s OK. We all have different dreams and values.

The one thing we do share though, is that we need to decide what matters most before we begin the goal setting process. Why? Because it gives you the best place to start your planning.

Most people have heard of SMART goals. SMART goals are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Result focused and have a
  • Time limit.

But, before you begin the goal setting process, the most important question you should ask yourself is this: does the goal really matter to YOU or is it something you think you ought to strive for?

Too often we fill our lives with the pursuit of goals that don’t matter to US. They’re either goals that matter to someone else or they’re goals we think ought to matter to us.

We all have finite time and energy. Make sure you spend them on what matters most to you.

what matters most to you?

Most people are aware of the story of the professor and the jar of rocks. If you’re not, the story goes something like this:

A professor produces a large jar and a tray of rocks. He then fills the jar with the rocks and asks his students if they believe the jar to be full. Yes, they say. Then the professor produces a tray of pebbles which he adds to the jar, gives the jar a shake so the pebbles fit in the spaces between the rocks and asks the class again, is the jar full? Some of them catch on and say, no. The professor then pours sand into the jar which fills in the remaining empty spaces.

The lesson most people draw from this story is that you can always fit more into your life. The lesson I take from this story is that if you don’t deal with big rocks first (what matters most to you)… you’ll fill the jar (your life) with the small stuff and there’ll be no room left for the big or important stuff.

First… Decide What Matters Most to YOU

When I first began my journey to creating the life I wanted to live, I started by deciding what mattered to me most, my ‘big rocks’.

Most of us putter through our lives not giving a great deal of thought to why we do what we do and whether or not it’s really important to us. I was no different, until I travelled with my daughter and my parents to Britain a few years ago. I returned from that trip changed in a way I’d never anticipated. It might have been about timing or it might have been the renewed connection to my homeland or it might have just been the sleep deprivation on the flight home but, my view of what my life could be, changed irrevocably.

I wanted something different to what was being sold on prime time television. I wanted something that was possibly even subversive. I wanted a simple life filled with those things that were important to me… and only me. Because, it is my life and as far as I know I have only one.

Over the next few years I took some risks, experimenting with different jobs and businesses in an effort to discern what it was that I wanted to do with my life and, just as importantly, how I was going to make it pay. I’m a lot closer to knowing that now than I was at the start of my journey but I’m not there yet, however I can see it in the distance now. In the last year, blogging has become a large part of how I’m making it pay. I plan to expand my online presence very soon.

What Matters Most to… ME?

Over the last few years I’ve given a lot of thought to what matters most to me and these are the things I’m working on – some more successfully than others. Here’s a selection.



  • Redesigning my garden to increase productivity.
  • Harvest as many natural resources as possible, like water, sun and wind.
  • Live the three ‘R’s – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle and aim for a zero waste lifestyle.


  • Reduce the number of hours of corporate employment – I still freelance in the corporate environment.
  • Produce multiple income streams to increase financial resilience.
  • Work from home.


  • Using conscious consumption to reduce discretionary spending.
  • Buying staples in bulk and stockpiling other items when available at a reduced price.
  • Using all of the above to increase my surplus cash so I can renovate my cottage, pay off my mortgage and be completely debt free.

These are a few of the basic priorities I apply to my life. They’ve remained constant for more than five years so I think it’s safe to say they’re not likely to change any time soon. Sure, I get distracted from my goals occasionally and spend frivolously but knowing what matters most means I can get back on course more quickly and easily than if I had no plan at all.

Have you considered what you’d put in that jar first? Can’t hurt to give it some thought.

Image: Pexels

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Abigail @ipickuppennies February 17, 2016 - 9:31 am

You’re absolutely right: Once you know what matters, you know how to prioritize and set up your life. Unfortunately, our priorities have been mainly negative up to this point.

That is, we had to pay down debt. That’s what mattered, and that’s what we focused on. Then it was mainly about saving like crazy for Tim’s dental implants — in and around all the money emergencies that befell us.

Once that’s done, it’s time to work toward some positive goals in the hopes that it’ll make me feel more positive. The next big goal to tackle — which probably won’t happen until after Tim’s appeal is settled in a year or two — is to fully fund a SEP IRA. While retirement feels a little negative, because I’m panicky about how far behind we are, it’s ultimately a positive thing.

Once we can manage the SEP, we can work toward the positive goal of getting rid of our mortgage.

And on the side, we can slowly add other positive priorities, like a bigger vacation fund, a little more discretionary spending, and saving for Tim’s dream car.

What matters most to me is doing our best to make retirement remotely feasible (including then saving for a rental property), owning our home outright, and making room for a little more indulgent spending in life. That last one will mainly be Tim. It doesn’t take a lot of money to keep me happy. I just like good company, Hulu/Netflix and maybe some popcorn.

Diane February 21, 2016 - 12:33 pm

Thanks Abigail.

I’m just focused on rebuilding my income at the moment. Apart from time out for the movies (my favourite indulgence) this year, I’m all about building my business.

Good luck with your goals!


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