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What Matters Most: Thinking About Your Roles, Values & Primary Aim


Part of my residency at EyeCare Professionals (Hamilton, NJ) was spent away from the clinic not seeing patients, but rather focusing on ME. Over the next year, I will showcase how I opened COLD in 6 months, but it all started with thinking about my roles, values and primary aim.

What is the number one concern of ALL new graduates, regardless of their profession?


Oftentimes, we jump at the first opportunity that presents itself because of the need to finance astronomical student loan debt, everyday life expenses, and the need to just start making some money!

I get it, we all do; however, what I hope to achieve within this article, is to get you to stop and think about what you really want out of life and your career.

Let’s talk about how to get you to a place where you are happy personally and professionally.

It is possible.

First, if you are committed to having a successful career, you must first know who YOU are and what YOU want out of life.

One of my mentors, Dr. Nick Despoditis, introduced me to the book, What Matters Most: The Power of Living Your Values, by Hyrum W. Smith. This book was instrumental in teaching me how to get to my core, and figure out exactly who I was, what made me ‘tick,’ discover my goals, and how to achieve them.

The main message of this book is that if you live your life neglecting your core values, even if you are successful, you often times do not feel fulfilled.

Smith uses a “What Matters Most Tri-quation” of Roles, Values, and Mission to determine what matters most to you, and how to apply that to your everyday life.


What are your roles?

This may seem like an odd question, but it is important to understand what relationships and responsibilities you have to the people you deal with on a regular basis.

You have to determine where you stand with these people, and if you are consciously/subconsciously fulfilling those roles.

The Exercise:

  • Write down all of your roles! Don’t forget about all of the different activities that you are involved in or any roles you hope to fulfill one day! (for example: I am a daughter, sister, girlfriend, boss, business partner, aunt, friend, dog-mom, craft-maker, etc…..)
  • Prioritize your roles. Which roles are most important to you? This will help you understand where to devote your time if a conflict arises. (for example: work vs. family)
  • Evaluate your roles. Give yourself a score for how you are performing each role. If you are not performing up to par, ask yourself why and what changes need to be made. If you are doing a great job at one role, think about why you are doing so well. Is it what you are doing, or the way it makes you feel?

Understanding your roles directly impacts your core values and primary aim in life and vice versa. This is the first step in fully understanding who you are.

What are core values? 

Core values are the things that “we believe to be of greatest importance and of highest priority in our lives.”

These are different for each one of us, but these values drive us subconsciously in everything we do.

Once you are able to identify what is most important, you can then utilize that information to understand what things in your life may or may not align with your values.

Some common values are: honesty, compassion, decisiveness, family, faith, a commitment to learning, etc..

The Exercise: 

  • Spend 15 minutes writing down everything that is important to you (people, activities, qualities, feelings, etc…). Be HONEST here. There are no “right” or “wrong” values.
  • After your list is complete, ask yourself “WHY” each of those things are important to you. You may find that some of the things you listed may hold a deeper value or connect some of the values listed.
  • Narrow your list down to 4-5 “core” values. These should be the ones that you really care about and are willing to spend “time, money, and energy on.”
  • Now that you know your core values, write a statement about each one. This statement can be why it is important to you, or an extensive description of that value. For example, let’s say that travel is something that is important to you. You can make a bullet-point list or write a statement like this:

“Travel is important to me because it gives that inner adventurer in me time to shine. It affords me time away from emails, phones, and the urgency of everyday life. I will make the time to travel to a new place every three months.”  

Your governing values change as you change; revisit this process from time to time to make sure you are on the same page with yourself!

What is your primary aim?

Your primary aim is sort of like your life’s philosophy, your life’s mission statement.

It incorporates the roles you play, your governing values, who you are and what you really want to get out of life.

Once you have a clear idea of where you want to end up, you can then set goals and achieve them much easier.

The Exercise:

  • Write down your mission in life. This can be a simple statement of just a few words or a full page.  Just remember that your mission statement should serve to inspire you, not to impress anyone else. “It is communicated to you and inspires you on the most essential level.”
  • If you are struggling, ask yourself these two questions: “What single thing do I want to be remembered for?” and “What is the most important legacy I can leave to family/friends/associates?”
  • You may have to write, re-write, scratch it, and start over many times! Just keep working at it until you feel that you’ve identified what you really want out of life.
My primary aim is to live simply. I will work to live simply everyday by encouraging love and growth within all of my relationships, by staying true to my beliefs and core values, and by keeping the things that are truly important (family, my health, my career) as priorities. I will continuously approach life with a positive attitude making sure everyone I meet leaves a better person than when I first met them.

Roles, Core Values & Primary Aim: Now What?

Now that you understand who you are, what makes you tick, and where you are headed, you can apply these things to setting goals and achieving them.

The rest of the book gives helpful tips on how to create the life you want.

Remember this one thing: If from the outside you “have it all,” but you aren’t happy….. your cores values are not being met. There is internal discourse and displeasure for a reason.

Do a little soul-searching when you are young, so you’re not that 60 year old who says, “Man, I wish I did X, Y, Z….”


 You’re in control of your own happiness. Make it happen!


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About Miki Lyn DAngelo

Miki Lyn DAngelo
Miki Lyn D’Angelo, O.D. graduated with honors from the SUNY College of Optometry in New York, receiving the VSP Excellence in Primary Care and Excellence in Vision Therapy awards. She then continued her education by completing a residency in vision therapy and rehabilitation with Dr. Barry Tannen, OD. She has extensive experience in family eye care with a specialty and passion for pediatrics, vision training and neuro-rehabilitation with traumatic brain injury patients. She recently just opened a private practice cold with a partner on the Eastern End of Long Island. In her spare time she loves cooking and working on the farm with her fiancé.

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