Every year around my birthday, I always take time to do a little year in review. I write down important milestones, lessons learned and things that I’m proud of.  The number one question I ask myself is, am I staying true to the values that really matter to me?

As I’ve thought about this question over the last few years, I’ve found it to be a helpful exercise. It keeps me grounded and always ensures that my personal journey is rooted in some sort of purpose. 

My list is still a work in progress. I’m sure that it will continue to change over time. However, here are the three things that I always come back to when I think about what matters most to me:

Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff 

I’ll be the first to admit that I can recall times where I’ve been so caught up in the small details of something, that I’ve let those small things get the best of me. Whether it led me to get annoyed or frustrated with a situation or a person, sometimes I’ve let those things consume my energy more than they needed to. Now, when I find myself in that place, I tell myself to take a step back. I ask myself if this is something that’s really going to matter. Is this something that’s really going to matter in 10 months or 10 years? More often than not, the answer is no. Checking myself helps me let go of whatever it is that’s draining my energy. 

not letting the small things distract you from what matters

Savor the Magic in Moments 

When I’d take the train back to the city from visiting my grandfather, I would always remember some of our special moments. Whether it was teaching me how to ride my first tricycle, catching me red-handed in the backyard while I was cutting my doll’s hair, showing me that math problems were fun (we never did agree on this!) or beaming with pride when I told him about getting my first job in NYC after grad school. Those were the moments that I will forever hold onto.  

What matters most to me is experiencing new things, seeing more of the world, and enjoying moments that make my heart full. Memories that I can look back on fondly and smile to my heart’s content. That value will always matter to me more than any material item.

the things that matter most are not tangible

Live Without Regret 

During my time in New York City, I was sacrificing what I really wanted in order to conform to a norm or a checklist. I was failing miserably at it because I was unhappy. In a book by Bronnie Ware, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, the number one regret of the people that she interviewed was not living a life that was true to them, but living the life that others expected of them.

If it’s one thing that I’ve never been able to do is live my life based on a checklist. It’s never worked out for me even when I’ve desperately tried to fit in.  I’ve found that I am much happier living the life that I want because I’m more fulfilled. Even though I’ve made my fair share of mistakes or decisions haven’t turned out the way that I’ve wanted them to, I have always felt it was the right thing for me to do. Now, I always ask myself, is this something you’re going to regret if you don’t do it? If the answer is a very loud “yes,” I go for it. No matter how far it strays from “the norm.” There’s only one definition of normal in my book and that’s how I’ve chosen to define the term. 

I’m sure there will be many more things to add to this list as I figure out what’s right for me, but these are some great daily reminders. What are some of the values that matter most to you? Share yours in the comments below! 

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Dhara Naik

Some of our best life-changing moments come from unplanned adventures. I'm a firm believer in forging your own path and I love sharing my stories and experiences with the hope that it will inspire others to pave their own path.