- Hardcover: 144 pages
- Publisher: Writer's Digest Books (1 Mar 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0898799945
- ISBN-13: 978-0898799941
- Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 18.4 x 1.5 cm
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,134,192 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
By using a combination of inspirational stories, quotes, and writing prompts, the author gently leads the reader towards self-discovery. Although the title may invite comparison with Stephen Covey's best-selling First Things First, Conley-Weaver's book does not provide a structured blueprint for planning and organizing your days. Instead, it encourages the reader to use journaling as a tool to give voice to both the dreams and the demons that we may keep hidden to the world, so that we can come to a better understanding of our inner selves and then use that understanding to make choices that bring us greater happiness. Speaking of her own discovery of the power of journaling while she was still a child, Conley-Weaver writes:
"Writing gave life to the thoughts I wasn't allowed to speak. Writing made me feel better. Writing kept me from being completely numb."
and later, as she grew older,
"Writing also helped me lead a simpler life. Through writing down my insights, I could see where I honestly wanted to aim my energies. It helped me settle down and heal so I could evaluate on paper the chaos of my life.
"I found I often made decisions for the wrong reasons. My choices were sometimes grounded in fear, sometimes grounded in routine, sometimes grounded in pleasing others rather than myself. By jotting down stresses and strategies, I was able to choose more positive uses of my time - not only to simplify my life, but also to amplify my blessings."
What Really Matters to Me is divided into five sections: Acknowledging the Chaos, Accepting Responsibility, Writing Through the pain, Choosing a Simpler Life, and Enjoying the Simpler Life. Each section begins with the author intimately sharing her own, often painful experiences, as well as the experiences of some of her students, as they have made their own journeys. Each section ends with a series of writing prompts, followed by several blank pages for the reader to use the prompts to facilitate their odyssey towards self-discovery. The prompts invite the reader to dig deep:
"Start two sentences with "I wish I could stop doing. . ."
"If you woke up tomorrow without the stresses of today, what would you do with your day? List the reasons why you believe you can't make that day today."
"Write about activities you're involved in that you do not care about and are doing just to please someone else."
The blank journaling pages are peppered with inspirational quotes from authors, philosophers, artists and scholars which acknowledge the wisdom of taking power over their own paths. By the end of the book, the reader has created a customized guide to assist them in achieving their goals. The steps defined in their journals will illuminate the path they need to follow to lead a simpler, more satisfying life. As Conley-Weaver writes, in closing her book,
"When you write in a journal, you can't help but simplify your life, because you'll be writing from an honest perspective. You'll become more aware on a regular basis of what really matters to you."