No. This is what’s important.


One minute and 12 seconds ago I put on a 50-minute timer, put my phone on airplane mode, turned off the WiFi, took three deep, calming breaths and opened a word document. 

At all times, we are being pulled in different directions, away from what nourishes us, away from what we need, the source of our power, to a variety of different things that drain us of our energy. Each thing clamouring for our attention.

Right now, I have a list of things that I need to do as long as my arm. I have work for corporate clients, prep work for private clients, prep work & promotion for public events, admin tasks, marketing work for my private practice, people I need to touch base with, I need to go food shopping, I need to cook, I need to do laundry, I need to have a shower… And until 5 minutes ago, my computer and my phone were buzzing at me relentlessly, demanding attention.

The author Iain Thomas said “every day, the world will drag you by the hand, yelling, “This is important! And this is important! And this is important! You need to worry about this! And this! And this!” And each day, it’s up to you to yank your hand back, put it on your heart and say, “No. This is what’s important.”

So I take three deep breaths and I start writing. 

When you read my to-do list, I wonder if you noticed the order in which I wrote things down. Corporate clients, private clients, the general public, my business, my friends and family and finally, my own needs...

When I search my soul I know that I must love and care for my own heart and body first, that I may be filled with enough energy to help others.

And so like Iain Thomas, I take a few deep breaths and put my hand on my heart and say, “No. This is what’s important.” 

It is only in bringing awareness to how my mind works and how easily I forget what is important, how I forget to nourish myself and how easily I get dragged off in every direction, that I can learn to focus on what is essential and that I can stay connected to my power and actually complete my to-do list (or decide that some of the tasks don’t need doing after all!).

So what is important? And what do we need to learn to set aside? Or what can simply wait a little longer? 

Let’s do a little exercise. I’d like you to take 3 deep calming breaths, breathing in for 4 seconds and breathing out for 8 to centre and ground yourself and then write down your three priorities in life and list them in order of importance. 

And now, draw out a pie chart and divide it into 24 slices, one for each hour of the day, and with complete honesty, fill out the pie to show how you use your time during a typical 24-hour weekday.

Be honest now, does your chart reflect your list of priorities? 

The first time I did this exercise I discovered how I was really spending my days – and that I was obsessively turning my attention to Facebook. Not once in my list of priorities did I write: ‘reading what other people want me to think their lives are actually like and seeing pictures of gourmet hamburgers’, but seeing how I spend my time, and noticing it with compassion and without judgement, I was able to change.

Time is the most precious resource you have in this life, and the majority of us waste it. Know the value of every hour of every day and create a practice of asking yourself: is this what's important?

Nadine Cameron Ward