How To Have No Regrets – Decide On The Truly Important Things In Your Life

An important factor in effective time management is deciding on the truly important things in our life. Achieving the wrong thing in the right time is a recipe for an unfulfilled life that lacks inner drive.

In this post I show you how to decide on the truly important things in our life. It is a two step process. Step 1 – we determine our four fundamental human needs. Step 2 –  we become aware of our four endowments. We then use both factors to decide on the important things in life. I will show you later in the post how to tie all this into creating meaningful goals.

The beauty of this approach is that not only does it tap our deep inner needs but it also keeps us balanced.

How do we normally decide?. Do we let peer pressure or social proof make that decision for us. Such as what to buy, who to befriend and where to live. Or do we let authority figures and those we hold in high esteem decide it for us. Such as our parents and mentors.  Or do we decide to hold those things important that we value most. Most people do that; deciding on the degree of importance based on their values.

But what if their values are wrong. Wrong either because they are unethical or because they are not based on their true needs and universal principles.

Universal principles such as the law of cause and effect or the law of the farm form an important part of the decision making. These principles exist outside us, have existed long before we came and will exist long after we are gone. For e.g. if we value buying things as an important factor for financial well being. We could end up running  a large credit card balance. Had we instead valued the principles of thrift or compound interest we could have ended up in a better position.

It is in their approach to deciding the important things in life and addressing all our needs in the various roles we take on that the authors of ‘First Things First’ depart from the usual time management wisdom. And in so doing bring forth a level of profound wisdom rare in time management literature.

Deciding on what is truly important to us is important for the simple reason that few take the trouble to do. As a result most live what Oliver Wendell Holmes described …lives of quiet desperation.

Deciding on the important things in life is a 2 step process that further requires

The authors describe four fundamental needs that drive us: Mental, Physical, Social/Emotional and Spiritual.


Our need to learn, grow, gain new perspectives.


Our need to connect with others. To develop meaningful relationships. To flourish as social animals.


Our need for physical and financial well being. To feel healthful and energetic and prosperous.


Our need to live for a meaningful purpose and to contribute. To have clear direction.

This is our strongest need and the most important. In fact Abraham Maslow who created the pyramid of human needs replaced  ’Self Actualization’ at the top of the pyramid with ‘contribution’ in his later years.

Next, our four endowments.

Self Awareness

It helps us take an honest look at who we really and what our programming has been to date. It increases the gap between stimulus and response.

A good way to develop self awareness is to mentally stand apart from yourself. Another way is to maintain a journal.


Conscience connects you to a universal knowledge base and to your heart. It is your internal guidance system.

Creative Imagination

This is the force to visualize something that does not yet exist. It applies both to the future and to people.

Independent Will

Is our capacity to act regardless of our emotions or likes and dislikes.

Tying it all up

It takes self awareness to know where we came from and how we arrived. To understand our script. It then takes creative imagination to visualize a more compelling future and independent will to actually achieve it. And where does conscience fit in. It helps us discover and stay loyal to universal principles. Principles that assure of sustained growth and fulfillment. As the authors put it, imagination without independent will creates a dreamer, independent will without conscience creates a Hitler.

Use all four of your endowments to discover what is truly important for you in all areas of your life.

In the next post I will talk about how to plan and align our day to day moments with the truly important things in life.

This is where the rubber meets the road.

We don’t know what tomorrow will bring us. But one thing is certain, tomorrow you will be one day older than today. But would you be any nearer to the important things in life?

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