Defining what is truly important is a personal question we must answer for ourselves. The good news is each of us can identify and take steps to achieve a life of joy and significance – one where we are the best version of ourselves, and contributing fully to the things that matter most to us.

I believe that we are here on earth for a purpose. Each of us has different gifts and talents, and when used to our greatest potential, these gifts will provide excitement and joy to our lives and to others around us. Whatever stage we are at in life – a recent graduate, a busy mom managing a household, in the height of a career, or enjoying retirement – we have an opportunity to provide great influence. This influence can be negative and destructive, or positive and life-building. It’s crucial to ask ourselves if we are making the choice to live our lives in such a way that we can have the most positive impact on our families and friends, our work, and our communities. The impact we leave over a lifetime becomes our legacy.

You don’t want to have regrets. One of the top regrets people have is not living a life true to themselves, rather living life based on the expectations of others. When you ask people at the end of their lives what is most important, they rarely say that it is the fancy car or the trophies that sit dusty on the shelf. Rather, it is the relationships they have, the loves in their life, the gifts they have given to others.

Start with the End in Mind

One of the strategies to help you determine what is truly important is to start with the end in mind. Here is an exercise to help you.

Look ahead and think about yourself at the age of 100. As your 100-year-old self, what would you say about the life you are living? Take the time to answer the following 4 questions:

  1. As you look back on your many years of living, what have been your most meaningful experiences?
  2. What have you accomplished that makes you most proud?
  3. What legacy are you leaving for your children? For this world?
  4. What do you want others to say about you when you leave this earth? They will either say positive things, negative things, or have nothing to say at all.

Taking the time for this exercise will help you determine what is truly important, and will provide clarity on what choices you want to make now — so you won’t ever have to look back with regret later.

You have the power to make your own path. You can identify and then learn to be intentional with the things that matter and eliminate everything else.

Originally published on Quora.


  • Janelle Bruland

    Entrepreneur, Leadership Coach, Author, Speaker, Podcast Host, & Co-Founder of Legacy Leader

    Janelle Bruland is an entrepreneur, author, speaker, and high-performance coach who inspires others to live impactful and successful lives. She is Founder and CEO of Management Services Northwest, a company she started in her living room in 1995 and has grown into an industry leading company, named one of the Fastest Growing Private Companies by Inc. magazine. The CPO of Microsoft, Mike Simms, describes her as a true pioneer in her field. Janelle is also the Co-Founder of Legacy Leader, a leadership development company that teaches business professionals how to build a legacy, transform their leadership, and love their life. She is the author of The Success Lie: 5 Simple Truths to Overcome Overwhelm and Achieve Peace of Mind.
    Janelle is a lifelong resident of Whatcom County, Washington and is married with five children. In her leisure time, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling, golf, as well as keeping fit through various sports and activities.