Finding the Things that Matter

Deciding what matters more, and what matters less.

Once you’ve realised that you can be anything you want to be, you have to choose what you want to be — you have to pick the roles you would like to play. These roles are rooted in the things that matter to you. And it might seem like there are many things that matter. This is when you might face the paralysis that comes with choice.

Choices. Choices.

It’s like walking into an ice cream store with dozens of flavours to choose from. We find it difficult to choose — we worry that if we choose something new, we may not like it and if we choose something familiar, we’ll miss out on the opportunity to try out an amazing new flavor.

So when given the freedom to choose, many of us do not want to choose. We’d rather have someone else choose for us. In life, most people live with the choices that others have made for them. Few of us venture out to make our own choices. Many who think of themselves as contrarians, just choose the opposite of what other people are choosing. But a true contrarian doesn’t blindly oppose the masses. A true contrarian thinks for them-self.

One might say that all choices are equally valid. But we know that this isn’t true. Certain choices will give us more desirable outcomes and other choices will not. But now, we are still left with the question: how to choose?

How do we figure out what matters to us: what roles we want to play?

There is one role that I have to play: myself. This body that I have is my primary responsibility. And the things that matter are to it are food, water, shelter, relationships, structure. But once these are taken care of, I look for something more — a larger role to play and something bigger than myself to connect to.

This is where most people choose to connect with a role that someone else has created — and there’s nothing wrong with that. Not everyone can come up with a role for themselves and it makes sense to play a part in someone else’s story. But even here, we have choice. There are many people out there creating roles that we can play — some roles are already big and others are in their nascent stages.

There is only one way to figure out what role to play: experimentation.

We’ve got to try out different roles to see what fits best. If we don’t experiment, we will be stuck with whatever comes our way — default options. But we cannot be experimenting our whole lives either. At some point or the other we have to choose. And if it feels like there is no role out there that will make you happy, then perhaps you have to create your own role — and recruit other people to help play this role.

But what is experimentation exactly? How does it work? First, you come up with a hypothesis: this role is suitable for me because of these reasons. And then you try out that role — learn the skills needed to play that role, and collaborate with others who are playing the same or similar role.

Your body is built to seek the things that matter — your body will tell you if you are in the right place or not. As you keep playing a certain role, you body will move into it or repel from it. And that’s how you know.

Once you’ve figured out what roles to play, and found the things that matter to you, your whole life will have to be structured around these things.

How can you do that? We’ll find out next week.