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Remember What's Important

By Stephanie Marston, MFT

One of the cornerstones of reducing stress and living a more balanced life is to know what you value--what's most meaningful in your life. Yet when our life is all about completing the millions of tasks on our "to do" list we often lose our perspective. We lose our ability to discern between what's important and what's not because everything feels equally urgent--equally critical.

No matter how frantic life gets, no matter how much frenzy seems to be present, the truly successful people are able to rise above the pandemonium and maintain their perspective. They can do this because they know what's important. Their values are their compass--they keep them on course regardless of the chaos and confusion of life. These people maintain a vision of what truly matters, what their life is about and what they want it to be.

By clarifying your values you can adjust your life so that you invest your time and energy in those things you hold sacred. Yet in order to do this you have to ask yourself what do I value? What's most important to me? These kinds of questions will not only help you to understand yourself on a deeper level, but ultimately to refocus your life around what's truly meaningful. As strange as this may seem, it's actually less important to understand the meaning of life itself than it is to understand the meaning of your life.

The first step in creating a more balanced life is to spend as little as five minutes a day considering how you choose to spend your time. Most of us are driven by what we think we have to do. We are slaves to our to do lists. Yet in order to live your best life you have to take control of your time and decide what it is you choose to do. Before you write down any other plans or think about your schedule decide the single most important thing you can do that day for your family, for yourself and for your work. List one "choose-to-do" in each of these areas before you list any have-to-do's.

The solution to creating a life you love is selectivity--it's about choosing. It's not about getting more done, but being more selective about what you do. Remember choose quality rather than quantity.

Let me let you in on a secret. You have the ability to balance yourself and to set your own priorities. Your influence over yourself can be stronger than any other influence. The winds of materialism, information, technology, competitiveness, and busyness may swirl around you blowing you towards overload, stress and imbalance. But you have choices each and every day. You have choices that will propel you in the opposite direction, toward the quality of life found in meaningful, quality-driven living.

Get into the habit of looking every day at the choices you're making. Our choices determine how we live. We live in a time where being selective is more difficult than ever before. Choosing how you live, practicing being selective, being conscious of how you spend your finite amount of time and energy, is what I call Life balance. Life Balance is discovering how to give more to yourself. It's about doing what matters and to devoting less of yourself to what doesn't. Life balance is choosing how you spend your time and precious energy.

Stephanie is an acclaimed speaker and author. She speaks from experienceStephanie is the go to expert for those who seek to create quality driven lives. Stephanie is America's foremost life balance expert. Her new CD program, 30 Days to Sanity contains powerful, innovative, practical tools to reduce stress, balance work and family and make time for what truly matters. Stephanie is the author of Chicken Soup for the Soul's Life Lessons for Women: 7 Essential Ingredients for a Balanced Life, If Not Now, When? Reclaiming Ourselves at Midlife and Life Coaching for Parents: Six Weeks to Sanity. For more information visit
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