How am I doing right now? Am I winning? Moving forward, or treading water? Good questions. How do we know?
To live life on purpose, instead of by accident, we need to get really clear on what we are striving toward. What ideal looks like. Every one of us is different. We value different things, we have different strengths and weaknesses. We’re all a combination of inherited traits and accumulated experiences. And what we need and crave morphs as we go through this journey called life.
Ask yourself – If everything were perfect, if I were utterly satisfied, what would my life look like?
Hard to answer that, isn’t it? Most of us are much better at listing all the things we don’t like. I hate commuting – it’s sucking the life out of me. I’m sick of worrying about money. I need to lose some weight – I feel gross. My boss is a jerk.
To add to the murk, most of us are more satisfied with some areas of our lives than others. We love our jobs but our marriage is rocky. We have great friendships, but are stuck in our career. Our health is good, but we struggle to get out of debt.
So how to get clear? What do I want? What is ideal?
It helps to break it down. One of the most popular tools we use in coaching is called The Wheel of Life. It only takes a minute to do, and gives a whole boatload of insight.
Take a plain piece of paper and draw a large circle in the middle. Divide it into eight pie-shaped sections and label each section with the different areas of your life. The most common ones are Career, Finances, Health, Recreation/Fun, Community, Spirituality and Relationships. The last one is often subdivided into Significant Other, Family and Friends (because you can can’t choose your family, right?).
Now, on a scale of 1 to 10, how satisfied are you with each of those different areas of your life? Write your answers on the circle.
That’s it. Dead simple. Don’t overthink it. Just put down the numbers that spring to mind.
So – what do you think? Any surprises?
Ask yourself, in each of those areas, what would be your perfect world? What would have to be present for you to be totally satisfied? Take some time here. Don’t rush it. Scribble down your first thoughts, and then think about this some more as you go about your business for the next couple of days. This isn’t the time to get practical, or to try and figure out HOW you would bring it about. Just think about what life would look like if it were absolutely fantastic, in each section, or domain, as we call them.
In the next few blogs, we’ll be talking more about the HOW. And it’s much easier than it might seem at this moment. Spoiler alert: it involves playing to your strengths, not spending a whole bunch of time trying to be something you aren’t, or “correcting weaknesses”. It involves small, incremental adjustments to build on what is already working. Then delegate, diminish or delete the other stuff.
For now, just relax into the process. Know that every one of us starts living life on purpose from exactly where we are. There is no perfect time, starting point, or combination of gifts that makes it better or easier. The comparison game is not helpful. “Don’t compare your beginning with someone else’s middle,” as Ruth Soukup says in her book “How to Monetize Your Blog Without Losing Your Soul” (a great book, by the way, that thoroughly explains the business case for social media and how it all works).
We hope you’re enjoying the Living on Purpose series, and look forward to seeing you next week for the next installment on Life Domains.