Important Things in Life

I’m sure you have experienced a wake up call at some point in your life. Events such as a divorce, a new baby, a firing, a terrorist attack, or a near-death experience tend to hit us like a ton of bricks and are not easily forgotten.Personally, what I find interesting is that implicit in the idea of a wake up call is that we have, in some sense, been asleep. What is it that we have been asleep to?When I think of wake up calls, the word that comes to mind is “priorities”. Wake up calls tend to make us stop, pull back from the runway of life, and consider exactly what it is that is important to us.Very often we realize that we have had our priorities upside down. Perhaps we have been spending too much time at the office, too little time with our kids, or have been neglecting our health. So to answer my earlier question, it seems to me that many of us travel through life asleep to what really is important.If you are in a slumber, the following are some ideas to help you wake up and remember the important things in your life:

Connect to Your Own Mortality

Some may find it depressing to think about death, but it can actually be a great technique to improve your life. Try, for example, to imagine laying on your deathbed. What could potentially give you cause for regret? Would it be all the money you didn’t make? Or would it be the friendships you didn’t nurture, the time you didn’t spend with your family, and the places you didn’t see? Now, consider if the way you currently live your life will give you cause for any regrets when you do actually come to lay upon your deathbed.Steve Jobs is a famous advocate of connecting to your own mortality. In his Commencement Speech at Stanford University, he said: “Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important thing I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life, because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.”

Write a Personal Mission Statement

I admit to being one of those people who normally skips the exercises in self-help books. I did, however, decide to follow Stephen R. Covey’s advice in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and write a personal mission statement. In short, a personal mission statement is an individual statement of who you are, what you are about and what you value. The process of writing such a statement helps to clarify your inner-most thoughts and feelings, and once finished is something you can turn to for guidance.If you are interested in writing your own personal mission statement, I recommend Dr. Covey’s Mission Statement Builder. Also, if you would like to see an example you are welcome to read my personal mission statement.

Have a Meaningful Conversation with an Older Person

As you grow older, you naturally acquire experience and knowledge of what is important in life. For example, is there anything you could tell the “you” from 10 years ago that would make life easier? I’m sure there is. Unfortunately, though, unless you have a time machine this is impossible.A great way then to acquire the wisdom that comes with age is to seek out an older person, such as a grandparent, and have a meaningful conversation with them. Ask them about their life, what they have learned, and what they would do differently. You may just find they experienced many of the thoughts and feelings you are currently are when they were younger.


Usually the problem is not that we don’t know what is important in life, but that it is forgotten as we get caught up in the everyday tasks that comprise life. One of the best methods I have found to overcome this problem is meditation. Meditation is a great way to relax both your mind and body. Such a state is ideal for gaining a better understanding of who you are and what you value.


It is easy in life to become consumed with your own sense of self importance. A very effective way to step back and see life in a greater context is to volunteer. For example, helping those with less than yourself will help you realize just how fortunate you really are. So often we act in such a way that we don’t already have the important things in life, when in actual fact they are right under our nose.

Peter writes about personal growth and self awareness at The Change Blog. If you enjoyed this article, you may wish to download his free e-book, A Year of Change.

  • Alex

    Good tips. Connecting to mortality is certainly useful for prioritizing. However, when I do it, I don’t dwell on the idea that I’m going to be dead and gone like a lot of people do, I instead cover all the scenarios and dwell on ideas like, if a concept like reincarnation is true, I don’t want to have to come back to this dualistic psycho planet and try again. It makes me want to let go and make peace today, not tomorrow.

    • Gail

      i have a hard time fining a answer to malcolm important life.

  • Todd Goldfarb

    I like this article Peter! A lot…another great practice for connecting with your morality is to write your own Eulogy! I know this sounds morbid, but thinking about the things you want said about you when its all over is great practice for connecting with mortality!

  • Dax

    Great post. Wake up call always comes if we fail to make good priorities and stop our spiritual progress. And it is usually not pleasant. It doesn’t have to be like that.

  • Eugene (Editor, Varsity Blah)

    Great post, Peter. I’m also a firm believer in mission statements. Simply knowing what you want your life to be about is a great way to align your priorities accordingly.

    I like to think of my mission as to make the world a little better, one smile at a time. It’s the reason I finally had the courage to publish my book and continue to follow my passion for writing.

    And it’s important to realize that your mission doesn’t necessarily have to be some huge “save the world” type of thing. It just has to be whatever is right for you.

  • Etavitom

    Awesome Post! Thanks so much for all the wisdom….

  • Ravi Vora

    I feel that all of these things can be influenced by just perceiving how good your life CAN be versus how it is now. I’ve written a few articles on how what your future holds can always be brighter than what your present situation is, and I believe that is a great wakeup call in itself.

  • Peter

    Thanks for the positive comments everyone.

    Dax: you raise a point which I implied in the article, but perhaps did not explicitly state. That point is: whilst it is inevitable that things will go wrong in life, many of the “wake up calls” that people receive are avoidable.

  • Marina @ Sufficient Thrust

    I had a mission statement for a long time, and it bored me. Then I adopted Guy Kawasaki’s idea of a “mantra” and I live and breath mine — “freedom through organization.”

    Great post!

  • sunny schlenger

    Peter –nice post! And I especially like your comment that many wake-up cslls are avoidable. It’s been my experience that the calls start as tiny nudges and just get bigger from there. The point is to learn to catch the nudges before they become 2 x 4s.

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  • Chrissy the EA

    This is a really beautiful and inspiring post. Thanks for writing it and motivating me to reconsider my priorities. The Mission Statement is something I’ve been working on for a while. I think I’ll have to pick up again now.

  • Grashabelle

    “Have a Meaningful Conversation with an Older Person”

    I’ve always found it to be enriching to engage in conversations with the elderly. They just have so much historical anedotes under their sleeves.

    And it does pay to lend an ear for half an hour or more, their experiences serve us a guide or tool for us to ascertain how we’re going to deal with situations and unfavorable conditions in our lives where they successfully came out unscathed.

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  • Loretta

    Does anyone know the quote that says something like,
    The important think in life is not where you go, but who is traveling by your side. It was more eloquent than that…

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  • Johan Lundin

    thanks for sharing your ideas online. I just read your ebook and I share a fair amount of your beliefs.

    I’m currently living a minimized life in terms of physical belonging since I am travelling South America for a year on a motorbike. Riding a bike for extending period of time gives plenty of time to think and reflect upon life.

    I’m running a video blog myself. It is not commercial or intended to make money but in order to share what I am doing with people not able to do the same. It is also a great tool for digesting experiences out of the ordinary.

  • http://nowebstie Esayas Bekele

    I have seen much more of such interesting concepts about life. But you know the most importnat thing, which we need to know is that we cannot change that fast by mission statements. We all have to accumulate a certain degree of experiance and practically informed knowledge, which can make us think about life in a more different, constructive way. Mission statement helps, but more than that it is what we experiance in our own life that dictates our day to day life. I enjoyed what you have written anyways. Well done

  • Zain

    gr888888888888… XTREMELY nice sense…

    THE PERSON WHO HAS WRTTEN DIS M HIS bigest fan frm now on.

  • maxwell

    Thanks for sharing! Life is so short that we need to make full use of it.

  • Sara

    I needed this wake up call today. Great post!

  • Hristina

    Thank you for this…really – thank you. I want to try this and to observe the result. I will write my personal mission statement and try to follow it…please tell me, that i won`t fail :)))no, i`m sure i won`t – after all, at least i will know what actually i want – this is also important. One more time – THANK YOU!

  • lpmulligan

    the link to the author’s mission statement did not work.

  • prom gowns

    Its amazing, looking at the time and effort you put into your blog and detailed information you provide.

  • kenny bertin

    I love this website because everytime i visit it it reminds me that there are a lot of things that we left behind even when we know that they were important to us

  • http://www.importantthingsinlife jessica

    i thing that in life is nothing important that much like you family brothers,sister’s and like that because you never know what can happen to you family and you never gona see them in life. For me was always important my friends, money, and things like that but from today i know that nothing is that important like you family. so be with them and love them..

  • http://- xavier

    i feel,in my life time what i achive , what i gain,i give to any benifits to thier so then what to do tell your idea and help my problem

  • taryn

    im a teen, and just letting who ever wrote these know… these are wonderful! <3

  • Rune

    Most are pretty good, but unfortunately far from the most important things in life.

    Meditiation is a whaste of time.

    You can spend this time better by working towards your goals. Instead of meditating each day, you can work out for the same amount of time and be alot more happy with yourself as a result.

    I would rather give another advice. Find out your own meaning in life. Set goals to slowly but surely come closer to this and work hard every day to achieve it. Dont slow yourself down with meditation. Its a dead end.

  • vish khatarnak

    a very good….

  • ravi

    Paula, when your “inner Critic” comes up with “But it won’t happen”,
    you can reply simply “Thanks for sharing that, butt out!” and ask the
    question again.

    Mindmapping possibilities as you ask can help–set out to make the
    craziest exprapolations that you can. Really crackers ideas-as if you
    are going for the nuttiest bonkers ideas possible as a result of What

    Your “inner critic” won’t handle that for long and quit.

  • San

    Connect to Your Own Mortality: Steve Jobs in his Commencement Speech at Stanford University, he said: “Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important thing I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life, because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.”

    So TRUE but we tend to forget, or while get caught up in busy world, self profess or society expected things to achieve, we just may not realise till knowing that’s all the time we have left …

  • San

    I enjoy your post, Peter =)
    And definitely agree with meditation, having meaningful conversation, and volunteer ourselves in ways that serve the community.

    Having an unforgetable opportunity living almost 2 weeks with Sikim young students and children in north India, a mountainous location, it was touching. Instead thinking we were offering assistance to them,I feel, we actually got more from them – the geniune smiles, the warmth we receive -TOUCH my heart.

    Such simplicity and precisely so true, such open heartedness – for a city dweller, I wonder why we are willing to exchange such honesty, relax simplicity with a convenient yet complex and stressful life.

    What is the true meaning of life? What is really meaningful?

  • San

    Mission Statement – did that before and lived by it for a long while. Life was …purposeful?!

    Then, it became too much of a burden. Sometimes, and may there are times, LIFE just needs to be lived LIGHT-ly hmm

  • Stephen-j-j-

    Most of us feel driven to achieve more bigger and better.
    This of course puts pressure on us all, the trick is to sit back and work out 
    what is important to you.
    I have found out that I will never have enough , I will always like that better house or 
    smarter car.
    So I have changed my outlook, I have engaged with friends more and spent more time seriously enjoying the things I have , the people I know.
    I have not given up , far from it.  
    I just spend more time not chasing the clock and try to switch my phone off .
    After all the cemetery is full  rich  and indispensable people, but you know the world
    marches on regardless.

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