What Is Important to You?

Earlier this summer, I had a meet-and-greet type meeting with a new client, and on the way to the lunch, the CEO of my company warned me that this particular client contact liked to ask difficult questions on first meetings. The question she told me to be prepared to answer: What's important to you?

The question never came up at the meeting, but it also never really left the back corner of my mind where nagging, unanswered questions reside. How would I answer that? There are obvious answers, of course. My husband is important to me. My family. My friends. But these are givens, in my mind. If my husband was not important to me, he would not be my husband. And though the same can't truly be said of family, I don't think family is the kind of answer this question was meant to extract. Perhaps, because of the way I was raised, I can't imagine not listing family and friends at the top of the important-to-me list. And that's probably not fair, and not a valid assumption to make about others, but for the sake of argument, let's leave off significant others, family members, and friends.

What, then, is important to me?

The first thing that came to mind, naturally, was books. Reading them, sharing them, talking about them, collecting them. Smelling them, holding them, writing in them. Publishing them, editing them, thinking about them, analyzing them. Ensuring that they continue as a form of both education and entertainment well into the future, in whatever form they may take.

But then, I thought, what about the other things I do? I work in advertising, and try to stay on top of trends in marketing and communications. I am learning to cook - that is, to cook without panicking, pouting, and generally being dissatisfied with everything that comes out of my kitchen. I am also learning to sail (slowly, because I am apparently incapable of thinking in three dimensions). I recently flew an airplane, part of my 26 by 26 list, and that list is also important to me.

At the risk of sounding like a walking cliché, then, I would amend my gut-reaction statement from books to learning. Books, after all, are a natural extension of my innate curiosity. I read books to learn, to see things differently, or to understand inspiration. I obsessively look for better ways to organize myself, my life, and my to-do list in order to give myself time to do the life-expanding kinds of activities in which I want to spend the majority of my time. I want to learn to cook in order to be able to better understand and appreciate food. I made my list of 26 things in order to push myself to expand my horizons.

I've spent the summer reorganizing, resituating, and rethinking, and I'm diving into the fall with a re-ordered set of priorities, a set in which family and friends come first, my list of activities comes next, and work and organizing and household chores are (hopefully) structured in a way that support the priorities, rather than impede upon them. It's an ongoing experiment, and I am learning to adapt. I am young enough to think that I can find my path already, but also young enough to recognize that my answer to the question of what is important to me will continue to evolve.

Perhaps it's part of growing up. Perhaps there is a book or twenty that can help me answer the question.


  1. So much to say. This is really a conversation waiting to happen.

    Put simply, I like, and admire, the way you think. :)

  2. I always think of that old argument of if you won a lot of money would you still choose to do what you are doing? After the obvious stuff - if I won a million billion dollars I would still want to learn. I'd get a ton of different degrees - go to school - not worry about tuition because when all said and done...I just love learning. Which is why I love books. Expanding horizons. I love that.


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