When the captain of Flight 1549, Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger, said, “Brace for impact,” Ric Elias realized that his flight was on its way down. He also understood, instantly, what was important in his life as the Miracle of the Hudson unfolded. He said, in that moment, there were three things he learned about the important things in life:
- It all can change in an instant. He no longer wanted to postpone anything important in my life. Urgency and purpose have changed him.
- He regrets the time he wasted in things that didn’t matter with people that mattered.
- Dying is not scary. But it was very sad. He didn’t want to go. He only wished for one thing: to see his kids grow up. The only thing that mattered to him was to be a great dad.
Elias concluded, “I was given a gift of not dying that day, and to see into the future and to come back, and to live differently.” Chances are you won’t find yourself plummeting toward earth on a doomed airliner. We sincerely hope that you don’t. However, there are times when what’s really important becomes crystal clear. Our whole world doesn’t have to come crashing down to gain a little insight into the important things in life. Do you want to know how to tell what’s most important to you? Here are 5 other ways of finding out.
1. What keeps you up at night?
I know we don’t all worry ourselves out of sleep. But, once in a while, something works its way to the front of our minds and won’t go away. Typically, it’s going to be something related to the security, well-being, and happiness of our family. Pay attention. Chances are your car, your golf game, or Monday Night Football isn’t on your mind at 2:00 AM. So why do we give those things (and others) so much attention when our family needs us more?
2. What’s most important to take with you?
Imagine your car is in the driveway. You have just 30 minutes to pack before the roads close and a Category 5 hurricane comes ashore to level your home. You make sure the kids are on board, and that your wife (if you are married) has what she needs, and you’ve taken care of the pets. Those are the important things in life. Then you stop and think, other than a couple of boxes of family photographs, everything else is all pretty much just “stuff,” isn’t it?
3. What do you want your story to say?
Imagine a television special is featuring your life. Imagine that you’re asked to help outline the content of the show. What would you want to see highlighted? Your work? Your possessions? Your character? The way you love your family? Your children? Your choice of recreational activities? Your commitment to the community? What things would you insist the documentary addressed?
4. What does your heart say when you quietly look around?
Wait for the entire family to go to sleep. Then, make yourself a cup of tea and walk around the inside of the house, slowly. Look at everything that occupies your space. Now pay attention to your heart, and listen to what it says when you watch your wife sleep…and your children.
5. What do you talk about the most?
What did you share with the table full of people you haven’t seen in 20 years? Chances are, if you want your old high-school friends to know about it, then it matters a lot to you. Don’t think about what you should say, but think about what you did (or would) say. Do the right things matter? Are you talking about the important things in life?