What’s really important to you?

blog marriage parenting Oct 07, 2022

Freya Stark once said, “There can be no happiness if the things we believe in are different from the things we do.”

If I were to ask you what’s (really) important to you, how would you answer that question? By default, we may say something like our faith, family, friendships and good health are just a few of the virtues that are most important to us.

Even though those are wonderful virtues that we all might say are important, the real question is this: What do your calendar and bank account say you’re committed to in your life? 

Have you ever wondered why most of us have a “gap” between what we say is important and what our commitments reveal? There may be a million reasons, but here are five of the most common. 

1.  A misplaced “Why?”

I love what Yogi Berra once said, “If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.” If we don’t pay attention, it’s easy to drift off-course from the things that matter most in our lives.

2.  Distractions

It doesn’t take much, does it? We can become preoccupied with almost anything: the latest gadget, a dispute with a friend, financial strains, gas prices, the stock market, planning for a vacation, daydreaming about winning the lottery, traffic, or something someone said that hurt our feelings – to name only a few. Some of these things demand our focused attention so we can resolve them and get back to what matters most, but others are sideshows that occupy too much space in our heads for far too long.

3.  Trouble

Even our best intentions to live out our priorities can be hijacked by troubles and challenges at work, at home, in our health, with aging parents, with teenage angst, and with countless other struggles.

4.  Opposition

Sometimes the trouble comes from people, not just difficult circumstances. People can annoy us, criticize us, and distract us from just about everything. Remember, much of our happiness depends on what we choose to pay attention to.

5.  Fear

Some of us are very much aware of our anxiety. We feel threatened, and it doesn’t take much to stop us from pursuing genuine change. Others suffer the debilitating effects of fear, but it has become so normal that they don’t even notice it any longer. Change requires courage and sacrifice. If it were easy, everyone would do it!

Knowing these five areas can help close the gap between our priorities and commitments.  

Stephen Covey once said, “The key is not to prioritize what is on your schedule but to schedule your priorities.” 

You may have heard the story of the professor who brought a large bag of sand and a box of rocks to class. He asked a student to come to the front and told her to fill a large jar with sand. Then he told her, “Now put the rocks in.” She shook her head and said, “There’s no room.” He told her to dump the sand on the table and fill the jar with rocks. When she was finished, he told her, “Now is there room for sand?” “Yes, some.” She poured some sand into the jar until it was full.

The professor explained, “This is all about priorities. If we fill our lives with too many lesser priorities, we won’t have time and space for the big, important things. Fill your schedule with big rocks first then little rocks and then, if there’s any room left, with sand.” It’s a simple but profound illustration.

Are we willing to prioritize the big rocks in our lives to reflect on what we say is most important to us? When we choose what’s most important, many other things will be left out. That’s okay. The question is: Is this a choice you’re willing to make for your health, friendships, marriage and children? These choices show what’s really important to us.

Rodney and Michelle Gage are the founders of ReThink Life Church and The Winning Family. For over 30 years, they have devoted their lives to helping people win at home and in life.

One of the ways that Rodney & Michelle support families is through monthly mentoring where they provide live mentorship and Q & A to couples and parents. You can sign up today for a free trial of The Double Win Club and receive a free copy of Rodney's new book, The Double Win.