Reflection Quote 004 : Goethe on Focus and what matters most

“Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.”
⏤ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

This eloquent quote puts it succinctly. That which is most important to you cannot be left at the mercy of all that which matters least. In the hustle-bustle of life, we find ourselves putting out fires or just taking care of daily maintenance of our lives so we can function. Often, this is all done in a bit of a hurry and because of that time pressure, we end up doing things without mindfulness.

As a result, there are times when we are swept away in the cacophony of things to do, voices of the world, and the rustling of chores. Even staying aware of what matters most to us becomes a distant memory. Didn't you write it down during your year end review and introspection? Yes, you did and not those priorities, dreams and goals are resting comfortably in the pages of your journal or the digital abyss of your computer.

Photo by  Thomas Lambert

Things that matter most

What is that thing that matters most to you? Can you spill it out on the spur of this moment? Without forethought, without thinking? I must admit this is challenging and I do have to take a moment at times to remember - what is it that matters most to me? 

One of the reasons for this is that we all have many different things that we call "priority", not least because there are important things in the many categories of our life such as health, relationship, work/career/business, community, finance, spirituality, and so on. So already that makes at least a handful of "things that matter most". And this makes it difficult to keep all of our priorities top-of-mind.

But what if we could find out for us what is the most important thing ⏤  THE thing that matters most to us. I believe that if we can figure out that one thing, all other priorities in the other categories will become self-evident. That One thing will serve as an umbrella for all our other priorities to logically and emotionally fit together, like a cascading waterfall, one priority will flow into the next and then into the next and become a coherent whole. Then we will not forget what matters most to us. Then we will be able to know at the spur of the moment what our one thing is. And this will enable us to take action, beat procrastination, kick doubt on the way side and begin to enjoy a deeper level of inner-peace.

But to get to that one thing that flows into everything else, we need to dig deep within us and we will find that actually the answers were floating on the surface of our awareness all along. Would you like to do this process with me now? We can in a few minutes become aware of that which matters most to us. All you need is a few minutes of undisturbed silence, a pen and paper or this worksheet below that you can download. And we can begin.

The Process Of Finding Out Your Thing That Matters Most

Step 1:

Take a few minutes to just sit quietly and comfortably. Put all your projects to the side for now. Now take a moment to answer either of these two questions:

1. If you could only have one thing but have it fulfilled, what would you want most for yourself that will make all other parts of your life easy, meaningful, and happier?

2. What is it that you want most right now, and why?

Answer A: 


Step 2:

Next, reflect on the why behind your answers.

1. Why is it that you want the Answer A you wrote down above? What will that bring into your life? 
2. In what way will having A, make other parts of your life easier, happier, more fulfilling? Write down how it will effect ALL aspects of your life including Money & Finances, Health, Family & Relationships, Sense of Contribution/Legacy/Fulfillment, Spirituality, Business/Career, Other

Answer B:

Step 3:

Reflect on the next question

1. What actions do you need to take in order to make Answer A & B active in your life?

2. What new habits whether activities or mind-set changes do you need to make in order to make Answer A&B possible in your life?

Answer C:


Step 4:

Time for making this actionable.

Now that you have the exact actions identified, can you commit on actually bringing those actions into your life? If so, when and what time of the week will you take some moments to implement it? Note down days of the week, the time or any other details you need to make this happen.

Answer D: 


Step 5:

Articulate Your Thing That Matters Most to you

Now that you have completed steps 1-4, reflect on Answer A again. Do you need to modify it in any way? And then, phrase What matters most to you in a single sentence:

Answer E: What matters most to me is ..........


Results Of My Own Process

As for me, after I completed this process, I realized that:

What matters most to me is taking daily actions of writing, meditating, walking, reading and carrying a mindset of gratitude and loving kindness.

I'm sharing my process results at the back of the Process Worksheet. So if you'd like to see how I came up with the above answer, you can download the entire worksheet below:

I'm glad you went through this process of getting to the core of what matter most. Now you can write it down in your journal or on a notecard and keep it on you, taking it everywhere you go. The purpose of doing that is to keep what matters most to you, top of your mind, so you can take actions to help make that thing that matters most to you, happen in your life. 

I'd love to see what you came up with. Do share in the comments what matters most to you and anything else you'd like to share about doing this process.

Much peace to you,


About the author of the quote:

"Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, (born August 28, 1749, Frankfurt am Main[Germany]—died March 22, 1832, Weimar, Saxe-Weimar), German poet, playwright, novelist, scientist, statesman, theatre director, critic, and amateur artist, considered the greatest German literary figure of the modern era". ⏤