Things That Actually Matter
“The key to a great life is simply having a bunch of great days. So you can think about it one day at a time.” – Mr Money Mustache
Things that matter in your career:
A meaningful job creates such a positive effect on the rest of our lives.
If we find our professional work to be satisfying and fulfilling, then our time feels rich, balanced and complete.
Put the other way; a live with meaningless employment feels dreary and hollow.
Creating meaningful jobs for people can change their whole family’s situation.
The idea that kids born today won't receive a primary level of education is unbelievable.
We know how critical education is to financial stability, freedom and the ability to exit poverty, so the programs and technology that make education accessible are vital.
The same goes for tertiary studies - we need ways of providing meaningful and practical education that doesn't force people into extreme debt.
With so much abuse going unreported in the past, it is vital that we create environments that make people feel safe.
Look at the push within schools, churches and Hollywood – people are no longer happy to create cultures of fear and discrimination that perpetuate this treatment, and we still have a long way to go.
Some of my close friends have a two-year-old son, recently diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy.
In the last few months, the Australian government has made the treatment available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, dropping the cost from $100,000 per dose, down to just $40.
This recent innovation will probably enable children to walk, who in previous years would have been confined to a wheelchair.
I have no doubts that the lives of those researchers and campaigners have been tough and disheartening at times, but their efforts are having tremendous impacts on the lives of young people today.
Time spend on scientific innovations can change the future.
It might sound trivial next to the science breakthrough, but there’s a similar level of impact.
Works of art change the way we perceive the world, and the way we understand ourselves.
If you can use the medium of music, film, fine arts, graphic design to highlight what’s important in life and to connect with your audience at an emotional level, you have the power to change people’s minds.
We have no shortage of good causes, but rather a scarcity of attention and caring.
People who can use their platforms to promote positive change are able to reshape our society – look at Australia’s recent plebiscite or Ireland’s recent referendum.
Advocacy is about using conversations and leadership to create a better culture, and by using effective communication techniques, advocates can craft messages that shift people’s mindsets.
Taking actions to respect the world we live in is good for the broader environment, as well as the soul.
Whether it is protecting wildlife, reducing landfills, cleaning the air or our oceans, time spent defending the earth is time well spent.
Our culture has a long history of exclusion – be it of Aboriginal people, women, refugees, the elderly, people with disabilities, it’s a long list.
When everyone is included, it looks like nothing has really changed.
We still have a lot of people pushed to the margins of society, and change is overdue.
Irrespective of whether it’s through accessible buildings, new legislation or progressive attitudes, efforts to make people feel included are incredibly important.
On a more personal note:
It’s easy to say “Video games don’t matter”, but to some people they do – especially if it’s the way they bond with their friends or family.
Yes, playing single player games til 6am isn’t something that contributes to your life, but the joyful times spent with friends playing games are invaluable.
Maybe it’s time spent walking through your neighbourhood, a shared craft project or something mundane that makes you happy – these are what recharge us.
Good conversations can change people’s lives.
It might be talking them out of a mistake, encouraging them to take a risk, validating their opinion or listening to what they’re going through.
We seldom plan for these, but they can change the course of our entire year.
I’ve never met anyone who regrets spending money on travel.
They might arrive home with $28 in their account, but the experiences and memories are worth every cent.
Time and resources spent on seeing the world is money well spent, no matter which part of the word you choose to explore.
Supportive family relationships
The time you get to spend with your family is often overlooked, but is invaluable.
Please note, not all relatives fall into this category – I’ve seen many close friends improve their lives by removing themselves from toxic family connections and obligations.
Time with your kids
Muneeb Ali wrote in Tribe of Mentors:
“When I’m old, how much would I be willing to pay to travel back in time and relive the moment that I’m experiencing right now?
If that moment is something like rocking my six-month-old daughter to sleep while she hugs me, then the answer is anything; I’d literally pay all the money I’d have in the bank at, say, 70 to get a chance to relive that moment.”
Not all holidays involve travel – it might be a camping trip or a week by a pool with friends or family.
This recharging period is what enables the rest of these meaningful pursuits, and creates experiences that will be cherished by all involved.
Time spent pursuing religious beliefs
Whatever your religious inclinations or curiosities may be, taking time to understand how they affect your life is time well spent.
It might be through an Alpha Course, a meditative retreat, reading religious books or listening to podcasts.
These prompt deep reflections and help guide your life towards what you believe to be most meaningful – it certainly has for me.
Personal development for your work
The way to increase your influence and skills might be through reading good books, talking with mentors or taking classes.
These might not be fun, but they can build your mental muscles that allow you to do better work – especially when paired with something else on this list.
Personal development for your relationships
Maybe it’s not for a job, but for your important relationships – developing listening and feedback skills can unblock troublesome relationships, removing the barriers and bad habits that get in the way of meaningful connections.
Personal development for your self
Not everything is for other people, sometimes it’s worth doing something to remind yourself about how much potential you have when you really focus.
Maybe it’s why people run marathons, learn new skills or join a dance group – because they create either satisfaction or joy.
Things That Don’t Matter
Brand recognition doesn’t matter
Sales growth doesn’t matter
Report formatting doesn’t matter
Resume building doesn’t matter
Industry awards don’t matter
Corporate dress codes don’t matter
Congratulations don’t matter
Other people’s judgement doesn’t matter
Instagram likes don’t matter
Prestige Cars don’t matter
Making partner doesn’t matter
Most of the things we covet and to which we dedicate our time are hollow.
When we pursue them for the sake of our ego or reputation, we end up with faint praise but no lasting happiness.
When combined with something meaningful, these might be worth our energy.
To chase them without meaning is to misspend your days.