It's a big question, and something that can be answered in a quick, throwaway fashion, but when was the last time that you took time to mull it over? To dig a little deeper into yourself, and be granular about each of the things that makes up your life? Maybe it's time you did.
A well-worn coaching tool that many of us have used with the clients we work with, is a Wheel of Life. Many versions exist of this - just Google the term and click on Images and you'll get an idea of just how many - but they all follow the same format. A circle, split into segments, each representing an aspect of your life. Some are very granular and work focussed, breaking your professional life into multiple sections, whereas other are much more life focussed, with work taking up only one segment. Find one that works for you, and if you don't find it, make your own! Think about your life in terms of the 'buckets' that make it up and draw it up. Maybe you're a Scout leader and that's huge for you; add a segment for Scouting. Perhaps you're considering leaving your job but you're conscious of the importance of having a strong external network to facilitate this; add External Network. It's your life and it's your circle!
This is something that's valuable to do with a partner; a coach, or maybe with your significant others, or a key work colleague, but you can easily do it on your own. Take each segment in turn, reflect upon it, and give it a mark out of ten, where
1 = this area of my life is a shambles
10 = this area of my life is as good as it could possibly be
Make some notes alongside it to reflect the rationale for the score you gave, and move onto the next one. Once you've completed your circuit, take a look at the scores as a whole. What surprises you? What delights you? Where does further reflection give you pause and make you consider changing the score you gave?
You see, as with many such tools, the scores themselves aren't the important things. We don't live our lives by a scorecard. But the rationale and the gut feel that drives these scores is worthy of our attention. What is our circle telling us? What are we neglecting? What parts of our lives are giving us happiness, joy, fulfilment? What parts are giving us the opposite? And then what do we do with all this information.?
As with any aspect of your life, what happens next is up to you. Many clients I've worked with like to take a specific segment that's given them reason for pause, and tackle it in isolation. Reflect on their contribution to it current state, decide what they'd LIKE it to look like (building a vision) and then, working back from there, create actions. Others take a more holistic view and look for changes that will generate movement in multiple segments at once. Some start with the lowest scoring area, others pick the area that's consuming most of their energy right now. There's no one way, but it's the actions that you take and the feeling of control that this generates, that really makes the difference. I wrote about the importance of commitment not only to the vision but to each individual action in an earlier blog, so that might be a useful resource if you give this a go. Equally, if you're not sure of who to do this with, or where to start, drop me a line and let's discuss how I can help.
Viktor Frankl, was an Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist, philosopher and author who survived FOUR Nazi concentration camps. In his later years, he went on to establish Logotherapy, a branch of Psychotherapy based on Logos, the greek word for 'meaning', His life is a fascinating one and you can read all about it in his classic work Man's Search for Meaning. This is probably my most-recommended book, and if you haven't read it, change that as soon as you can. Alongside the book, there's an oft-used quote, ascribed to him by Steven Covey, which goes as follows:
"Between stimulus and response lies a space. In that space lie our freedom and power to choose a response. In our response lies our growth and our happiness"
The answers on your Wheel of Life are the stimulus. What you do next, to change your life, is the response. Embrace the freedom you're now facing. Happiness awaits.