The Most Meaningful Thing You Hope to Accomplish In Life

The Most Meaningful Thing You Hope to Accomplish In Life

Meaning, and ‘most meaningful’, are all very subjective terms. Pretty much everything we see, hear, and feel is open for interpretation, and skewed by our past experiences. I believe it’s the meaning that we choose to place on things, whether deliberately, or without thought, that is the driving force to why we make all of our daily and long-term decisions.

Knowing this, it’s just a matter of really deciding what our values are, and then basing our decisions based on these core values. The quality of our life from day to day, as well as where we end up in a year, five years, or even ten is going to be greatly altered. The satisfaction that we have with our life will also greatly increase if we’re acting from our core values.

The Academic Dean of NYU Dental School, Dr. Andrew Spielman, one of my mentors, suggested a topic for our mentee group to discuss at our next meeting. Think big, think about the reasons, no BS, just total honesty, were the instructions. Knowing my love of personal development and introspection, you can only imagine the glow in my eyes when I heard this question.

There are so many things I hope to accomplish in life, and I’m frequently adding and subtracting from that list as I learn more about myself, what I value, what I respect, and how I envision the design of my life.

At the present time, the most meaningful thing I hope to accomplish for myself is not a thing. Having the right car and house seem rather insignificant to me in the grand scheme of the way I look at life. I’m not saying I won’t have these things in the future, just that they’re not the MOST important.

Being with the person I love, having a loving family and children, and a career I’m totally engaged with are way up there, but still not the MOST important thing… I mean, if I had to pick. They’re a bi-product of the most important thing though; a lovely side effect if you will.

The most important thing I hope to accomplish in life is to be the person that I set out to be. I know that if I am that person, then everything else I desire in my life will be within my reach, and I’ll create the energy, courage, and resources to get the rest. The person that I’m talking about, the one that I want to grow into, is the one I’ve written my mission statement for.

Mission Statement

A mission statement is less about where we were, and more about who we’re becoming, based on where we’re striving to be. It’s a moral backbone that will give us integrity, guide us, and allow us to draw wisdom towards every decision that we make. Here’s mine:

  1. I am an outstanding human being in every respect
  2. I am honest, kind, loving, loyal and true – to my family, friends and everyone who knows me
  3. I am a positive, optimistic, confident, warm, friendly person who is admired and respected by everyone
  4. I am an excellent parent, a fine employer and I do my work in an upstanding fashion every time
  5. I uplift, encourage and inspire everyone I meet – everywhere I go

This list makes me uncomfortable, because it’s a stretch and a growth from where I am right now. Some days I’m some of these things, some of them I haven’t been able to achieve yet, but all of the things on this list are pointing me into a certain direction. In a way, they color my perceptions of people, places, and things. They skew my decision making mechanism every day. They’re bringing me a step closer to MY most important thing.

I believe it’s very important to earn the greatest things in life. To become the type of person that can acquire them, and handle them, without letting them go sour or slip through our fingers. It’s like people that win a tremendous sum of money, or become overnight celebrities, but then encounter a downward spiral and end up broke and addicted. We hear this all the time, and it’s because they weren’t prepared for it, they did not build themselves up as a person to control such a situation. To me it seems that becoming an outstanding human being is the foundation for the other great things in life.

You have to remember, this is my opinion, and it happens to be right for me. For you, according to your core values, something else might feel right and is totally and equally just as acceptable. What’s the most important thing you hope to accomplish in life? (I promise to respond to all comments ASAP)


Photo by Alicepopkorn

Posted by in Character Building, Personal Development | January 16, 2011 | Digg | | Stumble | Print | 28 comments

  • Rj

    Very good article. Thanks for sharing.

    • Alex Shalman

      Thanks RJ, I’m glad you enjoyed. Next time, your turn to share, in the comments πŸ˜‰

  • Sue

    Wow…couldn’t have said it better myself. Although, I’d revise a few things for my own circumstances.

    My question, though is…how do you attain these things? I set goals for myself up over and over and somehow I keep coming up short. Life takes over, i go back to my old ways and I can’t seem to get the ball rolling in the right direction. What is there that I need to bridge the gap?

    • Alex Shalman

      Hi Sue, thanks for commenting. You pose a very good question, and it’s hard to give a definitive answer, because everyone is different.

      I think what it comes down to is values, priorities, and difficulty level. You have to seek out your core values, to find out what is REALLY important to you. Once you do that, you’ll prioritize your MOST IMPORTANT things, so it won’t be an option of life getting in the way, there will be your most important thing, and then whatever else is going on. The difficulty level means you better make sure that you’re capable of doing the next step (you might not be capable of running 100 miles tomorrow, so you better make your next action more manageable for you).

      Maybe some other commentators can jump in and help answer this question as well. Hope this helps. πŸ™‚

  • CristaLove

    I really enjoyed what you wrote, this piece was well put together… Sometimes I shy away from the important things and you inspired me to think about what I want. My life is very hectic right now, but it seems that it all comes down to what I would like to accomplish in life. Thanks for the motivation. Good luck with school! : )

    • Alex Shalman

      Hi Crista,

      I’m glad you were inspired and motivated. As counter-intuitive as it may be, having that high priority thing in mind may just help to find a like quiet in the chaos.

      Thanks for reading and commenting πŸ™‚

  • Armen Shirvanian

    Hi Alex.

    I’d say the most meaningful thing to me is to get to the point where I am a host or leader of some sort, taking in lots of feedback, and communicating with numerous people at the same time. I am very comfortable in that position and shall rise to it. That is my answer.

    Also, it was cool to answer this. Often times I see a question in an article, and most of the responses don’t actually answer the question, and instead just praise the article, which is sort of like saying an apple tastes great without having chewed on it.

    It is neat of you to relay this over from your dean to your readers, passing on an important question.

    I think you are doing quite well heading towards your accomplishment of interest.

    • Alex Shalman

      Hey Armen,

      I think being a great leader is an awesome goal to aspire to. I can tell that you don’t mean that in a “I want to be in charge type of way,” and taking in feedback and communicating are spot on. Being a great leader, in my opinion, means being a great follower of your people.

      As far as different types of comments, I think that different people have a different comfort level, and different amounts of available time to soak something in and comment. But, yes, I agree, it would be awesome if everyone who read left feedback, really put time into it, and by doing that got even more out of the article.

      Thank you πŸ˜‰

  • bikehikebabe

    I asked my friend what made her feel bad by the end of the day. It was not getting enough work done for me. She said, “If I didn’t have fun.”

    She asked, “Why do you think work is more important than play?”

    • Alex Shalman

      I keep saying this in replies to comments below, but it all comes down to priorities. I think if we take pleasure in what we have, then our work/career/etc. is like play.

      Some people that take a bit less pleasure in their work and do it more for financial gain, may need a little bit more scheduled play in order to decompress after work. Hell, even if you LOVE what you’re doing, it’s nice to get a change of pace to decompress.

  • Vj_fire

    I want to bring smile on each face dwelling in my heart but it seems to be very tedious task. People around me think that I have some selfish motto. my friends say why I think too much for others ?

    • Alex Shalman

      Hah, I wonder what you answer them to that question.

      Don’t give up, keeping making faces smile πŸ˜‰

  • jerry

    My friend,

    I admired your blog it’s kind of positive atmosphere that is full of motivation. I only hope one thing for you, have you considered Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Saviour of your life? If it yes, then your’re truly be a blessing to everyone and you can even encourage more effectively with others who need hope to their hopeless life. If it not, then this is your chance. You know, Jesus can make your life truly fulfilled beyond human comprehension and secured even beyond this world for He is the Lord of living and the dead. I am willing to pray for you and your patrons…

    • Alex Shalman

      Hi Jerry,

      Thanks for the nice words. I’m not Christian, but I’m the same religion that Jesus was throughout his whole life. Not interested in making any changes here πŸ™‚

  • Stan Broadhurst

    The meaning of being “who I want to be” may be the best that we all can ever be.. outstanding is not measurable.. it is an opinion..

    love your blog Stanb

    • Alex Shalman

      Hi Stan,

      You’re absolutely right, outstanding is an opinion. It means something to me though, so it’s a worthwhile immeasurable goal to strive for. However, I would argue that points 2-5 are all characteristics of an outstanding person.

  • woverine_1999

    Hi Alex,

    Great post. I think the key to achieving the mission is consistency (obviously!) and that is the critical part for me personally. When I have had goals they have really focused my mind and provided me with motivation and the right direction in areas such as weight loss or achieving a specific work goal. However, and as I am seeing with quite a bit of self-development material is ACTION!!! After the initial buzz and motivation of having my goals…I unfortunately lost track and to be honest, got lost in other self-development materials that I came across. Now I am aware of this trap and just cherry picking a few key concepts (goals, mission statement, discipline and focus for example) and likely to stop with the RSS feeds and emails from other sites (including your’s!!).

    I have realised that I have come full circle over the last 2 years…and the lesson I have learned is 1. choose concepts/learning that resonate with you 2. take action consistently 3. don’t fall into the trap of looking for the next “best thing”/magic bullet as the first one you came across would probably work if you followed through 4. don’t forget your friends and family. Even by putting my top 4 on your reply I guess I have added to my own point 3 (above) in some ways….but the key now for me is to stop and take action.

    Good luck everyone!


    • Alex Shalman

      Hi David,

      Thanks for commenting, I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Consistency in action is definitely an important key, I agree with you.

      I’m also glad that you’ve gathered what you want and are now moving on. It’s no secret, that my readers get what they want, then grow and move on, and it’s rightfully so. Some will stick around just to see my progress, and I wish the rest good luck on their own individual paths. πŸ™‚

  • woverine_1999

    Sorry typo from my earlier post….”as I am seeing with quite a bit of self-development material THE KEY is ACTION!!!”

  • Ian_Kirk

    In order for any of us to have more we must become more – paraphrase of a Jim Rohn quote.

    • Alex Shalman

      Good reminder Ian_Kirk. Love Jim Rohn!

      “We can have more than we’ve got because we can become more than we are.”
      Jim Rohn

  • Katie Brandt

    Thank you for your honesty. To boil mine down as concise as possible, I would say I exist to create growth, both for myself and others. I know if I am not growing as a person I am dying. I love to learn and teach others.

    • Alex Shalman

      You’re like a shark that needs to constantly move forward to live πŸ™‚

  • Life Exceptional

    Although I agree that we should always be looking to improve and better ourselves, I’m not sure that focusing all of your efforts on achieving future perfection is the right approach. It is also very important to live in the moment, and be happy with what you are now. Otherwise you will spend your whole life trying to improve further without ever enjoying the improvement you have already made.

    • Alex Shalman

      In order to have future improvement, we certainly have to focus on being better right now. In every situation, and with every decision, we have the opportunity to be the person that we want to be.

      I find it hard to do everything all at once, and my nature sometimes pulls me in the wrong direction. That’s why I’m slowly concentrating on being more civil, and more sincere, and all of those things on my mission statement, so that they’re so ingrained as habits that they’re not even a decision point anymore.

  • John

    frnd what can i do cam up with missions and in my mission to include my friendship with whom she majorly advice me always and i trust her.i want to incoperate her in my mission please help me on how to go about it

  • Margaret Guthrie

    Hello Alex, Thank you for sharing your thoughts and dreams, I love getting your newsletter to catch up on your progress with your dental degree. I feel as though I have no focused direction and you help expand my world, My lifes ambition is to get to the end of my life and to be able to look back and feel no regret, to live each day happily with integrity.

    • Alex Shalman

      I’m glad that you stay in the loop. Sounds like you’re in an exploratory phase. Hope something interesting pops into your field soon. Try to really look at what your values are, and really consider what’s important to you – perhaps theirs a fun purpose in there somewhere that will knock your socks off πŸ™‚