What’s the Most Important Question to Ask Each Day?
What’s your most important thing?
This is the crucial question to ask if you want to lead a meaningful life and stay aligned with your life purpose.
It’s a question that can be applied to any area of your life: work, creativity, relationships, spirituality, your contribution to the world. And you might want to consider it in light of work-life or work-play balance as well.
It’s a question to ask often because as you change and grow, your life purpose evolves too. The dreams you had in your twenties may look very different from your plans in your forties, and not at all like your intentions in your seventies.
But maybe not; maybe your most important thing will remain the same your entire life.
Don’t Know Your Most Important Thing?
Not sure about your life purpose?
This is still the critical question: What's my most important thing?
Let the question simmer awhile. Surely answers will emerge. If not answers, at least clues that will show you the next step.
Or you could ask, “What’s alive in me right now.?” That’s a different way to frame the same question.
Answers may come to you quickly, but perhaps not. Perhaps it will take many iterations to know the driving force behind your existence. Stay with the question, whether it’s over days or months, until insight dawns.
Maybe you’ll need a certain amount of life experience under your belt to know what it is not. However your life unfolds, still come back and ask the question now and then to see if your day-to-day existence is truly aligned with your heart.
“If we never question, then we focus our life on whatever we are conditioned to focus on, until one day we realize: What I have focused on was not that important to me. A reorienting follows when people hit midlife, because it is time when we have done enough, achieved, enough, or run the rat race long enough to start to wonder if it is satisfactory. Is it enough? That is when we reexamine and begin to ask questions: Is that what I want? What is the most important thing for me?” - Adyashanti
Don’t wait till midlife to ask this question! Decide to lead an intentional life right now. Ask this question now and ask this question often so you don’t have regrets later - at midlife or when death is in sight.
Related Post: How to Avoid the Top 5 Regrets of the Dying
Your Most Important Thing Can Be Small
Your most important thing doesn’t have to be epic. Interestingly, sometimes small multiplied many times turns out to be epic.
It could be something like:
Be a kind person.
Be a good parent.
Live in the present moment.
Heal my trauma.
Connect to the mystery of life.
Create art that inspires others.
Write stories that make people think.
Your most important thing doesn’t have to relate to your job either. It can be far more global than that.
Take Action On Your Most Important Thing
It’s not enough to just ask the question, or get excited by an answer only to get distracted by something else. You have to take action on your most important thing if your aim is to live a meaningful life.
“Action expresses priorities.” - Gandhi
That’s why, an equally important question to ask on a daily basis would be one of these:
“What’s the most meaningful thing I can do today?”
“What’s the most important thing I can do today?
“What can I do today that will keep me living my life purpose?
“How can I best manifest my soul’s purpose today?”
“What’s alive in me today?”
In one way, this question is the perfect daily time management technique.
Because when you pay attention to your most important thing, you don’t waste time on the unimportant. At the end of the day, you feel your time has been well spent. Doesn’t that feel good?
This question can also be a doorway into the essence of life, the mystery of life. Because maybe, what you assumed was most important from a material perspective, on reflection, really isn’t. Maybe there’s more to discover about the meaning of life, and your own purpose for being on this planet.
Your Most Important Thing or Your Most Neurotic Thing?
I’ve been reflecting on this question myself, inspired by Adyashanti’s book, The Most Important Thing, Discovering Truth at the Heart of Life (affiliate link). It hasn’t been a linear journey, at least for me. Because, when we ask a pivotal question like this, the conditioned voices in our head may want to chime in.
As a young girl, I felt a natural empathy for people who suffered in any way. I’ve always felt motivated by the desire to help. Although I was drawn to writing as a teenager, life took me in a different direction.
I never asked, “What’s my most important thing?”
Not too long after college, after lots of time spent waiting tables and a stint as an employment counselor, I became a non-profit director. I ended up managing organizations for most of my life.
I did well on the organizational side, but I wasn’t a people person and thus not the best manager. In one way, those were miserable years. But I was deeply dedicated to the purpose of each organization, and the work fulfilled my need to be of service to others.
I never consciously asked the question, “What’s the most important thing?” But I always thought I was doing the most important thing.
Many years later, I came to a crossroads and became a freelance writer. That felt much more comfortable to me. Eventually, I started Always Well Within. Even though it’s not a paid gig, this is even better. It combines my desire to help with my love for the written word while honoring my sensitive, introvert nature.
I’m sure I made a few conscious choices along the way, but mostly life happened to me, albeit sometimes in powerful ways.
Now, I’m in a different stage, my work life has concluded. I have limitations, but I have open time as well. So it seems fitting to ask (or maybe it’s just my INFJ personality who needs to have meaning and purpose), “What’s my most important thing?” Or, “How can I best spend my final years?”
But when I ask the question, my inner critic tells me things like:
You should be sitting in a cave and meditating.
How can you truly help anyone else, when you don’t know the “truth” yourself?
How can you really help anyone else, when you haven’t completely healed yourself?
Maybe you’re staying busy to avoid your own problems, or you’re afraid of space and silence.
Watch out, it can sometimes be hard to tell the difference between your most neurotic thing and your most important thing. If you’re following a “should,” a “must,” or directions from your inner critic, it’s likely not your most important thing.
After reflecting on this question for a few weeks, I woke up one night with an “answer.” I want to contribute, in my own small way, to raising the consciousness of people on this planet - meaning more awareness, more love, more kindness, more peace, more wisdom.
Sometimes that means sitting quietly in meditation. Sometimes that means writing for Always Well Within. Sometimes that means healing myself. Sometimes that means connecting with others in a kind and loving way.
When I consciously embrace that intention - my most important thing - every day, it brings a sense of joy, meaning, and purpose.
But maybe it’s not the thing I’m doing after all, but how I try to do it: with presence, awareness, and a good heart. Maybe that’s the most important thing.
Let me ask you, what’s your most important thing? Let me know in the comments. I would love to hear.
This article was inspired by Adyashanti’s book, The Most Important Thing, Discovering Truth at the Heart of Life (affiliate link)
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