It's the first step in Cultivate's three-step proven process, the hallmark of the PowerSheets® goal planner, and arguably the most life-changing thing we teach here. But why is uncovering what matters so powerful, and what does it really mean? We're diving into all that and more in today's blog post, so let's get to it!
What does it mean to uncover what matters?
Uncovering what matters, or naming what matters, means getting clear on your big-picture vision in a way that informs how you act today. In the simplest terms, it means figuring out what matters—separating what matters from what doesn't matter!
We prefer the term "uncovering" because it suggests that what matters is already inside you—you just need to sift it out from the junk (distractions, the opinions of others, the pull of comparison) that can so easily bury the good stuff.
Why does uncovering what matters... matter?
Well, it changes everything. How's that for an answer?!
Uncovering and naming what matters allows us to experience the full richness of life. It allows us to make decisions more easily, and to prioritize our time and energy for the people, places, and things that matter deeply to us. It allows us to show up confidently and authentically in the world: living each day imperfectly, but with contentment and joy. Worries and fears fade into the background because we know we are spending our time wisely and well.
Because what happens when we don’t name what matters? We allow everything to matter. We treat every goal, every relationship, and every decision with the same urgency and importance. It's easy to get lost in distractions and comparison, running after everyone else's priorities, but friend, that is an exhausting way to live.
In short: uncovering what matters matters because:
- You'll more easily decide how to spend your time.
- You'll be able to say yes and no to opportunities with confidence.
- You'll find it easier to break free from distractions.
- You can set goals that act as a compass, pointing you toward your big-picture vision and helping you live it out today.
- And you'll be more likely to accomplish those goals. Yes!
That's right: uncovering what matters is key to achieving your goals. We succeed in things that have a strong why—that we deeply believe in! If something ultimately doesn’t matter to you—if you can’t connect it to a larger, more meaningful why—it’s unlikely to get done with all the other commitments and priorities on your plate. When a goal or new habit does matter to you, though, you’ll find a way to live it out. No matter how imperfectly, you’ll keep getting back up and trying again!
As James Clear notes in Atomic Habits, we're more likely to be invested in—and stick with—goals that reinforce our desired identities. If a goal or habit helps us feel like our truest self (if it matters to us!), we’re more likely to stick with it. On the other hand, if the goal conflicts with our desired identity and what matters most—if it leads us away from who we want to be—it’s unlikely we’ll stick to it in the long run (even if it sounds good to other people or even to ourselves!).
Uncovering and naming what matters helps us avoid this trap. Naming what matters doesn’t have to be complicated, but it’s the foundation for a cultivated life. The smartest strategies in the world might help for a bit, but if a goal or habit doesn’t actually matter to you, it’s unlikely you’ll stick with it for long.
How can I uncover what matters?
We're biased, but this is why we developed the PowerSheets: the best thing we have to offer here at Cultivate. All of your efforts—every good intention and action—have the potential to simply frustrate you if you haven't first decided where you want to go and who you want to be. This is what the PowerSheets Prep Work will help you do: help you get clear on a big-picture vision for your life and year.
As you work through the questions in your goal planner, remember to choose what matters right now. You don’t have to choose what matters for all of time (or even for the next year!). Instead, choose what matters right now, in whatever season you’re in. Your season might be the literal season of the year (spring, fall), it might be a season of work, or it might be a season of family life.
Here is a beautiful truth: when you name what matters based on your season, not for all of time, you can answer with confidence. (No one knows better than you what matters most right now!) You’ll also feel the freedom of knowing that what matters can shift. It’s okay to have a new answer when a season comes to a close. It’s also okay to have a new answer today, even if it surprises you.
- Has something mattered in the past that no longer matters? Choose a new path!
- Does something that used to matter a little now matter a lot? Choose a new path!
Remember: allowing what matters to guide your decisions only works if what you say matters actually matters. So as you begin to uncover, tell the truth.
- Don’t choose what matters for your mom, your best friend, or an influencer on social media.
- Don’t choose something that sounds good but isn’t realistic for your life, resources, or priorities right now.
- Don’t choose what mattered in a past season.
Release your expectations around what you think should matter, and resist the temptation to compare your priorities to someone else’s. Instead, take a moment to get quiet, tune in to the beauty and the realities of your current season, and get ready to uncover what matters most to you.
Your turn! We'd love to hear: What have PowerSheets helped you uncover? What matters most to you?