What really matters?

The answer to this question will vary per person, and also over time in the same person. At this point in time, here’s what matters to me:


This is #1. I think everything else in life is quite meaningless without it.

What I’m doing to improve my relationships

I’m using Undrift to help me tend to important relationships. I created it because I have a bad habit of taking the “Out of sight, out of mind” approach with people. But some relationships are important enough that they’re worth attending to even if you don’t see the person.

What I could be doing better

I haven’t been doing much lately to foster new relationships. It’s partly due to the friction that COVID has added to socializing, and partly due to me just being more introverted lately. But finding ways to get out of my shell consistently is really important. I’ll be thinking more on this.


This is #2. Is it weird that it’s behind relationships? I don’t know, I just think having loved ones and being sick is better than being healthy and having no one. But really there’s no reason to think in such extremes. You can have both.

What I’m doing to improve my health

Sleep, diet, and exercise! That’s the simple foundation of it. As simple as it is, I’ve had some pretty bad habits around all 3 in the past, but I’m sorting them out. I’m setting simple daily targets for all three.

For sleep, the target is to unplug from my devices by midnight. Staying up late on the phone/computer is the major threat to my sleep quality, so this target gets me 80% of the way to good sleep.

For diet, the target is to avoid dairy, refined sugars, and highly processed foods. I also reduce meat drastically, picking vegetarian options whenever they are available. I find nutrition science to be an absolute mess of conflicting views and self-serving agendas. It seems damn near impossible to get an honest answer about anything. But through personal experience or my own intuition, I have come to the above target. It could be even better, but I don’t want or need to optimize. Just 80% of the way is fantastic.

For exercise, the target is to “break a sweat” every day. That’s it. It doesn’t matter if I’m running, weightlifting, or playing sports. It doesn’t matter if I spend 5 minutes or 2 hours. If I break a sweat, I hit my target. This may seem too easy. You may think “I can break a sweat in 5 minutes, what good is just 5 minutes of exercise a day?”

To which I would reply that 5 minutes of exercise is a massive improvement over 0, which is my normal number. Also, once you start, you don’t have to stop as soon as you break a sweat. I usually go over because I want to. Anything extra is a bonus though. It’s important that I don’t force or shame myself to keep going after I’ve hit the target, or else the target is meaningless.

What I could be doing better

Just more consistency. Consistency is all.


Work is serving others. It’s a trade. Every day, I am served by literally thousands of people. When I eat at a restaurant, it’s not just the restaurant staff that serves me. I’m also being served by the farmers, food inspectors, truck drivers, and ship captains in the chain of supply. There are countless people in the process doing work I don’t even know exists, all in service to me.

So work is important because it’s how you earn the service of others, in the form of money.

What I’m doing about it

I use my skills in web development to create stuff with the hope that it will improve someone’s life. So far, none of my creations have accomplished this, but I am not giving up. I believe that there are a lot of people in this world who think like me, and that if I create something that I think is useful, it will also be useful to those people.

What I could be doing better

I could be working at a company that has already figured out how to serve people efficiently and at scale. With my personal creations, I’m just starting from nothing. I lack experience and knowledge about most things. Being a part of a team can alleviate some of those gaps so I can be of service sooner rather than later.


Reflection means taking time to look at your life and making intentional decisions about it. Paying attention to where you’re at, where you’re going, and where you actually want to go. As simple as it sounds, it’s easy to go long stretches on auto-pilot, just acting on impulse.

What I’m doing about it

I journal regularly. My cynical mind used to see journaling as too “simple” to be worth the time. Better to use that time “getting something done”. It was only after seeing regularly that I could eliminate days or weeks of indecision with 15 minutes of journaling, that I started to believe in the importance of journaling.

It doesn’t have to be a huge time commitment. Even just 5 minutes gives an outsized reward in mental clarity and potential creativity.

What I could be doing better

More consistency.


Presence is paying attention to what is going on in your life as it’s happening. It’s different from reflection which is thinking about the past and making decisions about the future. Presence is important because it improves the quality of your moment-to-moment experiences, which has a major impact on everything in your life.

What I’m doing to be more present

Meditation is the tried and true tool for this, and I practice often. There are many different types of mediation, and as we all have unique minds, we will respond uniquely to each type. I am experimenting with different types of meditation to learn more about it and find the type that is most compatible with me. It’s important to be very patient with meditation - matters of the mind are sometimes unpredictable.

What I could be doing better

Can you guess? Consistency! And patience.


Creativity is important as a way to create something without the constraints that come with work. Where work should serve someone, creativity has no such requirement. If you’re great at guitar, your act of creativity might still be a real service to others. But if you play stuff no one likes, or you’re just not that good, it doesn’t matter. It’s still a creative act, and by my estimation, that’s important enough to be worth it.

I should state again that this is my personal value system. For me, creativity is important for the sake of creativity, and not based on some result or output. Some people say “I’m just not a creative type” and are perfectly fine without it.

What I’m doing to exercise creativity

I explore creative interests for fun and without pressuring myself to make anything with it or get really good at it. Lately I’ve been exploring 3d modeling, guitar, and singing. I’m an absolute amateur at all 3, and it’s totally fine.

What I could be doing better

Nothing. The whole point of this one is to be free of constraints and expectations. I just follow my curiosity and impulse for the sake of it.

What about enjoyment, leisure, fun?

Enjoyment matters, but it’s just a part of everything else. If you have good relationships, you will enjoy them. If you do meaningful work, you will enjoy it.If you take care of your health, you will enjoy feeling fit. If you bring more presence into your interactions, you will enjoy them more. Enjoyment comes when you focus on what matters, and it can elude you when you chase it directly.

I might send a newsletter sometime.