Life is beautiful.
It can also be unpredictably devastating and provide an eye-opening experience we weren’t prepared for.
Because life is unpredictable we occasionally find ourselves facing situations we never thought would happen to us. “This is the sort of thing I hear about on TV … I never thought it would happen to me,” we may find ourselves thinking as we stare reality in the face.
Maybe we get bad news at the doctor. Maybe someone we love receives bad news. Maybe some other unsavory life event occurs. We are the recipient of a proverbial swift kick to the ovaries, as I call it.
I refer to these as Oh Shit! moments; events that quickly force us to change our perspective. Things we once thought were important are now trivial. Other areas of our lives we didn’t pay much attention to, or perhaps took for granted, are now the only things we care about.
Before you continue reading please let me say this. I sincerely hope you can’t relate to the above statement. I hope your life is amazing and everything is going perfectly for you and your loved ones.
One final note – though I rarely use curse words on this website, you’ll see the word Shit! used throughout this article. (Fourteen times, to be exact. Sorry, Mom!)
Don’t Wait for an Oh Shit! Moment
If you’re (thankfully!) not enduring an Oh Shit! moment, don’t wait for one to body-slam you back to reality.
We hear stories weekly about the person who suffered, and thankfully survived, a heart attack. She decided to adopt healthier lifestyle habits because life grabber her attention with that event. “If it wasn’t for that heart attack I never would’ve got my act together,” she may say months later as she faithfully practices healthier nutrition and exercise habits.
This is an example of someone needing an Oh Shit! moment to show them what matters in life. Her health, in this common example.
Don’t wait for life to throw you an Oh Shit! moment to get your priorities in order. Know what matters now. Make sure your actions are in line with the things you claim to value. Adjust your perspective.
Related Article: How to Stop Letting Fear Hold You Back
Or perhaps you need to start by asking the question, What matters most to me?
This is an exercise I’ve been doing the past several months. I know bad things in this life are inevitable, and I refuse to wait for (another) one to force me to prioritize. I frequently ask myself what matters most to me. What do I truly value? At the end of every day, what and who am I most grateful for?
Because of this I’m spending my time (the only real thing we have) in better, more fulfilling, ways.
Here are some questions to ask to help you figure out what matters most:
- What do you value? Family, friends, faith, free-time, adding value or contributing to the world in some way?
- What has (intentionally or unintentionally) taken a back-seat in your life that you once valued?
- Who do you love or value spending time with?
- At the end of the day, what matters most?
- Are the things you’re spending time and energy on adding value to your life, or distracting you from the things that truly matter?
Another exercise I use, especially when I feel bogged down or get anxious, is ask myself, Will this matter six months from now? If the answer is no, I don’t worry. If the answer is yes, I know this requires my attention.
Shift your focus from the trivial to the valuable. Take care of yourself and make your health a priority (no, this doesn’t need to be complicated or time consuming – stick to the bare essentials for best results).
Initially this exercise may need to be practiced on a weekly basis to stay on track. A terrific idea would be to do this with your spouse, partner, or a close friend.
Currently Facing an Oh Shit! Moment?
If you’re in the middle of an Oh Shit! moment, don’t waste it.
I don’t mean for that to sound arrogant, or ignorant. I fully understand that some things can be so heartbreakingly devastating that “not wasting them” is the stupidest suggestion possible. But I know people who are in the middle of their own personal Oh Shit! moments, and their response is empowering, beautiful, and brave. They’re using it as an opportunity to uncover their true values.
I’ve spoken with friends and colleagues who’ve shared their personal Oh Shit! moments with me and the lessons they chose to take from those events to make their lives more fulfilling and to ensure their priorities are in line with what they say they value most.
My Oh Shit! moments have been quite revealing. I’m always left with a focus on what matters most and what I value.
Most things in this world are out of our control. But we can choose how we respond to them. We can choose to learn from them.
The only guarantee in this life is that we are here temporarily. So what are you going to do with that knowledge?
Don’t wait to ask the tough questions. Don’t wait for an Oh Shit! moment to force you to prioritize. Don’t waste an Oh Shit! moment if you’re enduring one now.
Know what you value … or decide now to find out. Line up your actions accordingly.
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