Growing up is hard. The older we get, the more bogged down we are by responsibilities, and the less we do the things that truly matter to us in our hearts. Simply reevaluating our priorities is definitely the much-needed next step to changing our lifestyles and getting back on the path to success and genuine happiness.

Yet, how exactly do we break out of our old routines to incorporate more fulfilling activities? Just how do we begin doing what really matters to us?

Well, first of all, we need to take a good look at the daily habits we've developed and how they shape up against our priorities.

For instance, if your goal is losing weight, but you load almost every meal with sugar, it might be worthwhile asking yourself why you haven't broken the sugar habit. Having a couple of hours a week just to take a good look at your life is absolutely necessary for figuring out how much your current lifestyle deviates from the one you had hoped to live.

Examining the habits you have now, however, simply leads to the next question: What exactly is, or was, the life you had hoped to live?

Is it one with less work, more family time, and lower levels of stress? Or is it instead one geared towards professional success? Do you like prioritizing physical activity and staying fit? What are the small things at the end of the day that bring a smile to your face?

Once you answer those questions, you can begin to unearth what truly matters to you. Although it feels so easy to know what we want when we're young, our dreams-and how realistic they are-get less and less clear the older we become and the more experience we gain.

Instead, we could find ourselves in perpetual cycles of mundane existence, going through the same motions by rote. We could lose sight of the things that once brought us such unadulterated joy-that we didn't realize mattered so much until they're gone.

Did you thrive off kicking a soccer ball on a field in the late afternoon when you were younger? Did you love making clay pots to put in the kiln? Do you miss spending time with your kids? Or going on dates with your partner? Do you miss the marvel of travelling somewhere unknown? Or simply running on the beach?

What are the small, or big, things that matter to you that you no longer do?

Once you understand what matters to you most, you can find them again. And only then can you start bettering your life by doing what truly matters.

Published on: Apr 7, 2016
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.