Success – What’s Important to You?
By Pete Koerner
What is success? Isn’t success simply realizing the things that are important to you? So, what’s important to you? I’m sure you could list some things, probably several things; but do you really know what’s truly important to you? Do you ever spend time asking yourself, or thinking about, what’s truly important to you? We often hear people talking about “the important things in life;” but what exactly makes something important – or more important than something else? Are things important to us because we were told that those things are important; or are the things we consider important all matters of personal choice, preference, opinion, judgments, or attachment? Is anything truly important without someone placing value on it? And does someone placing – or misplacing – value on a thing make it important?
Is a big house important if you don’t have a big family? Is an expensive car important just because you make a certain amount of money, or because someone else has one and you want one, too? Is your health important only when you are sick? Is happiness important to you at all; or have you decided that happiness is an illusion? There are many things we could be placing any degree of importance on; and they are almost all based on our conditions and circumstances. But, there are some things that are truly important – to all of us. And why is it important to talk about such things? Simply because you tend to think about what’s important to you; and you can only think about one thing at a time. And, as everyone knows, you tend to experience some version of your thoughts; in one way or another, you thoughts influence every part of your experience. Thoughts are among those things that are important to humans.
Thoughts are creative; thoughts are things. You get what you think about; so, you should spend time thinking about what’s important to you – the things you most want to experience. But first, you should carefully consider what is really, truly important to you; otherwise, you’ll be thinking about, creating, attracting, and experiencing things you don’t want. If you don’t have what you want, you simply haven’t thought enough about it, or you haven’t thought the right kinds of thoughts about it to make it “important” enough for you to put the necessary energy into making your desire real. Sometimes the “right” kinds of thoughts are no thoughts at all – to let go of thinking and worrying about a thing. How many times have you searched and searched in vain for an answer or solution only to have the thoughts you were looking for spontaneously pop into your head shortly after you “forgot” about it? Your thoughts are important because they guide you through your experience with answers and images; and thoughts are the foundation of all of the physical fixtures of your life.
For something to be true and real, it must be true and real in all circumstances and conditions. From that perspective, there are truly very few things that are really important. We need air to breathe, we need sunlight, we need water, we need rest, we need a little food, and we need to love. The love doesn’t have to come from, or be directed toward, anything outside of us; we simply need to have love within us – love for ourselves and everything around us. Most people don’t think of the important things, however, until they start missing them, or noticing that they aren’t there anymore. For example, you don’t think much about breathing; but if someone held your head underwater, it would all of a sudden be a top priority, and you wouldn’t be concerned with the messy house, boring job, or unpaid bills.
If you have human relationships, like family and friends for instance, then these become important; and, short of our basic human needs, relationships are probably the next most important thing we have in our lives because relationships have the ability to affect our health, happiness, and well-being. After these things, jobs, houses, cars, entertainment, cell phones, text messages, and so on, vie for our attention; but we should never let any of these technologies, or worldly pleasures or conveniences, displace any of the truly important items on our lists – or thoughts in our heads.
Nor should we let jobs and money stand between us and what is truly important – even if money is masquerading as something important, or a means to an end. If, for instance, you spend 80-hours at work each week – supposedly for your family – and your family falls apart as a result of your absence and lack of thought, care, and attention, then you have simply mislabeled the “important” things in your life. Your job isn’t important because you have a family; ideally, you have a family that is important to you, and you do what work you have to for them. If you are bold and creative, you’ll do what you love; and those things you think about and love will tend to grow and take up a bigger and bigger part of your life – your experience of reality. These things – perhaps careers, houses, money, advancement, relationships, etc – may not be important to anyone else; but they are the fixtures of your experience. Without the objects of your attention and affection, your life would seem to have no dimension to you – unless, of course, you have developed a monk-like mastery of your mind and its processes.
There’s a difference between working because you have to, or working because you want to; and there’s a difference between time and “quality time.” The difference will become obvious in a very short period of time when you start having to make choices and tell someone important to you, “No.” If it’s your boss you’re telling, “No;” so you can be at your child’s recital, then you picked the path of family over that particular job. If, on the other hand, you tell your kids, “No; I have to work late,” then your job has become more important; and you have forgotten why you’re working in the first place. If it’s that big of a deal at work, just remember that you can always get another job; don’t miss any “first and only’s” over people who probably aren’t nice and considerate, anyway. Be creative, be bold, and get a new job. Just remember that, in one way or another, you will always do what’s most important to you; so think about what you really want. You may get fired for missing work for your children; and then find a job making more money working with nicer people who value family and want to help you be with yours when it’s important.
If you’re like me, then you are at least starting to see how most of the things we think are so important are only important to us because of something they make us feel – or because we don’t want to feel the way we think we’d feel if we lost, or didn’t have, a particular thing, situation, or opportunity. Many of the things we think are important are simply things we were told were important – usually at a very young age by people we trusted or relied on. Sometimes, the importance we place on truly unimportant things – like our favorite food or television show, or things at work, or money – causes us to act like “addicts” when that thing is threatened or removed from our lives. By misplacing importance, people will often fight to defend the very thing that is enslaving – or even killing – them; that could take the form of a marriage, job, government, addiction, or any other thing we have come to believe that we can’t live without – even though it isn’t giving us what we believe it should be.
In the end, all that’s truly important is our Health, Happiness, and Peace of Mind; and all of these things already belong to you and me. Release any ideas you have about things outside of you causing, or being important to, your health, happiness, and state of mind; and focus on what is truly important to you. Save the energy you’ve been wasting chasing things that you think will make you happy; and start using that energy to do what you love and to love what you do. That’s the secret to getting what you want in life. But it’s still up to you to decide what’s important to you – and then do it.