• David Strittmatter

How to determine what really matters to you

Only by losing something you can determine how much you value it

Summary:

  • Loss allows us to reconsider how much we actually need something to be happy individuals

  • Regularly evaluating what matters enables us to spot new opportunities

  • We've got only a limited time in this world and thus have to stop wasting precious hours on things that eventually won't make us happy


Practical advice:

  • The single best strategy for determining what truly matters to us is by cutting things out of our life

  • Solely contemplating about a condition significantly supports you in identifying what matters most

  • Be more aware of the things you've renounced in the last months, appreciate them, and stop taking them for granted


Dear friend,


2020 was an unprecedented year. The COVID-19 pandemic had a massive impact on all our lives and taught us many lessons.


For me, the most significant learning was to find out what is most valuable to me and what is from minor importance.


In today's article, I'll write about how this global epidemic helped me determine what really matters, why it's vital to regularly reflect on this question, and how you can find out what's really important to your life.


Losing is a great teacher


In this ongoing pandemic, we've had to sacrifice various things - some of us more, some of us less. Yet, we all had to give up certain freedoms: We still have to social distance ourselves, cannot go to our favorite restaurants, aren't allowed to workout in gyms, must not party in dancing clubs, etc.


What's great, though, this socioeconomic challenge forces us to renounce certain things, allowing us to reconsider how much we actually need them to be happy individuals.


There's this old saying: Only by losing something you can determine how much you value it. Not only I absolutely agree with it but also I think it goes in both directions: By losing something we can evaluate not only how much we need it but also how little something contributes to our lives.


Before my girlfriend and I decided to become a couple, we'd had a dispute. This conflict made me sense what it felt like to lose her, triggering a set of feelings that were so strong and unexpected that I felt totally overwhelmed. Suddenly, I felt and understood how much this person mattered to me. As a result, only few weeks passed until we committed ourselves to each other.


Contrarily, the pandemic taught me how little I value fancy food in restaurants, shopping trips in local retailers, drinking one or two drinks in a bar at night, ... By forcing me to renounce, the measures to curb COVID-19 made me determine what's really important to me.


Why it's vital to regularly reflect on what matters


Unfortunately, we often don't think about what really matters in our lives. On the one hand, we take too many things for granted; on the other hand, we resign ourselves to the daily grind and societal conditions. We all do things even though we don't enjoy them: Staying up late, taking part in too large business meetings, binge drinking - to name a few. And the things that make our lives significantly better perish because of our sense of entitlement.


We've got only a limited time in this world. We need to make every second count and thus have to stop wasting precious hours on things that eventually won't make us happy. COVID-19 forced us to renounce certain things. We need to use this experience, continue to regularly reflect, stop doing things that don't matter, and focus on things that do - in the post-corona world.


Moreover, regularly evaluating what matters enables us to spot new opportunities. We shouldn't need a global crisis like COVID-19 to question the norm. Things like digital education and virtual meetings were great and necessary alternatives before the pandemic as well. Yet, since most of us didn't challenge the status quo, the digitization in many areas crept along until the pandemic triggered the vast application of new technology.


Find out what's really important to your life


The single best strategy for determining what truly matters to us is by cutting things out of our life, then seeing what we miss and what we don’t. The pandemic harshly taught us this vital process, but it's not necessary to suffer that much to find out what truly matters.


It's totally fine when you just use thought experiments: For instance, genuinely imagine how you would feel if you stopped going out. What were the consequences? Who and which parties were affected? Solely contemplating about a condition, questioning it significantly supports you in identifying what matters most.


Carving out certain things, though, is still the most valid method. Our imagination often fools us to believe things that aren't actually true or amplify certain aspects that aren't as crucial as we think. By cutting things out of our life, we truly experience the "if scenario" and it's consequences.


I'll draw my consequences from this pandemic. And I'll definitely more often question the status quo. By cutting certain things out of my life from time to time, I'll better understand my needs and desires. And once we regain our freedoms, I'll be more aware of the things we've renounced in the last months, appreciate them, and stop taking them for granted.

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