Pillar #4 – Evaluate Your Current Reality

Welcome back to Life Compass, where I’m sharing my Ten Pillars of Lifestyle Design. So far, we’ve covered:

      Today I’ll share Pillar #4 – Evaluate Your Current Reality.

      Our lives are made up of seven basic categories, or Life Areas. They are:

      1. Family
      2. Career
      3. Financial
      4. Social
      5. Health
      6. Personal Development
      7. Spiritual/Ethical

      Many times, when we want to change one aspect of our life, like our income, or our career, we tend to focus so much on that particular life area that we tend to neglect others.

      Sadly, the media and our culture often endorse this approach. We celebrate singular success: people who achieve greatness as athletes, writers, business leaders, etc. We don’t often celebrate those who live well-balanced lives and are winners on the field and in the back yard, or in the office boardroom and at home in the living room.

      I believe that successful Lifestyle Design is holistic, it impact all areas of life. Think of your life as a wheel…you want it to be well-rounded. You don’t want success in one area to cause weakness in another. It might be OK for a little while, but not for long.

      In this step, we’re going to take the time to evaluate how you’re doing in each of the Seven Life areas.  Grab seven sheets of paper, or your computer, and put the name of one Life Area at the top of each sheet.  Ask yourself:

      • What things should be important to me in this life area?
      • How important are they currently? How are my relationships with others?
      • What is going well?
      • What needs attention?
      • What are your strengths in each area?
      • What are your opportunities for growth (formerly called “weaknesses”)

      That’s Pillar #4 – Evaluate Your Current Reality.  Keep your Life Area sheets handy, because you’ll need them when we cover Pillar #5 – Reveal Your Personal Values.

      Pillar #3 – Clarify Your Life Purpose

      Welcome back to Life Compass!  I just started sharing my Ten Pillars of Lifestyle Design. So far, we’ve covered:

          Today I’ll share Pillar #3 – Clarify Your Life Purpose.

          First, what do I mean when I talk about Life Purpose?  Others may refer to it as a mission or calling.  It is the overarching theme of your life, which blends your interests, goals, passions, dreams together.  It is built on life experiences of the past, and points you toward your future.  And it becomes your guide, and a benchmark, to help you weigh future decisions.

          How do you identify and clarify your Life Purpose?   Grab some paper and a pen, or sit at the computer and take a good look at yourself to understand your personality, how you work with others, and what motivates you.

          What are your unique skills and abilities?  What are you good at?  But don’t stop there.  Sadly, many people do stop there when they make career decisions, and that’s why 80% of Americans end up feeling unfulfilled in their work.

          Experts tell us the average person is probably good at 100 things.  For fun, take a few minutes and make a list of all the things you’re good at.  You might be surprised at how big your list is!

          After you’ve written down your unique skills and abilities, think about your personality tendencies.  Are you an introvert or extrovert?  Do you take action immediately or procrastinate?  Are you extremely organized or a clutterer.  Do you get things done, or do you leave projects half-completed?  Are you self-motivated or do you need outside accountability?

          Next, what are your values, your dreams and passions?  Your values are the non-negotiable things or principles that are most important to you.  We’ll take a more in-depth look at your values in a future post, but for now, just jot down whatever comes to your mind.  For example, your values might include:  being debt free, being home with your family at least four nights a week, growing in your faith/spirituality, maintaining personal health.  You get the idea.

          You already took the time to think about your dreams when you started your Master Dream List, which we covered in Pillar #1.  Of all those dreams you wrote down, which are the ones that might shape your life’s direction?  Write those down here.

          Passions are interests or causes that are important to you. The things you’d give your life for.  Maybe your passion is to help at-risk youth stay in school, or you want to improve the lives of people living in sub-Saharan Africa, or maybe you’re a stay-at-home mom whose passion is to encourage other moms to stay at home at raise their kids.  List all the passions and interests that come to your mind.  And you can always add more later.

          The more you take the time to understand yourself, the more confidence you can have about your life’s purpose.  And this understanding and confidence then leads to clear focus regarding your Life’s Purpose.

          For extra credit, now that you’ve taken a good look at yourself, ask yourself how others see you.  Then, if you’re bold enough (and I think you are), ask a good friend, spouse, co-worker how they see you.  We can eliminate blind spots in our life, improve the quality of our work, and strengthen our relationships when we take the time to ask trusted friends how they see us.

          It is through this process of introspection, of taking a good look at ourselves and how we’re uniquely made, that we’re able to understand and clarify our Life’s Purpose.

          Your next step is to write out a first draft of your Life Purpose.  You can just write down the first thoughts that come to your mind, then refine and edit it later.

          Here are some suggestions to help you as you write your Life Purpose:

          1. Identify the highest priority roles you fulfill in your life (for example:  at home, at work, at church, in your community).
          2. Include the values and ideals that are important to who you want to be in the future (for example:  excellence, continuous improvement, generosity, goal achievement).
          3. Summarize the most important long-term goals and achievements you wish to obtain.

          Once your first draft is written, you can feel free to edit, refine, or synthesize it a bit.  Then let it sit for  a while.  In future posts, we’ll cover some more tips that will help you refine your Life Purpose further.

          That’s Pillar #3 – Clarify Your Life Purpose.  Tomorrow we’ll cover Pillar #4 – Evaluate Your Current  Reality.

          Pillar #2 – Define Your Preferred Future

          As you read yesterday, I’m sharing my Ten Pillars of Lifestyle Design over the next several days.  Yesterday, I shared Pillar #1 – Start Your Master Dream List.

          Today I share Pillar #2 – Define Your Preferred Future.  What is your Preferred Future?  Quite simply, it is your dream life.  If you could live any kind of lifestyle at all…if time and money were no object…what kind of lifestyle would you choose?

          I encourage you to get a piece of paper, or the computer, and project yourself one, three, five and 10 years into the future.  How old are you?  What is your life like?  What is most important to you?  How have your personal, family and career circumstances changed?  What goals have you achieved?

          Be as realistic and objective as possible. This isn’t the time to dream that you can go from making $30,000 this year to making a million next year.  I know people have done it…and I’d be the last person on earth to stop you from dreaming it and doing it.

          But one of the reasons many people fail at achieving their dream life is that they set unrealistic expectations, and they simply give up before long.

          Here’s a sample Preferred Future description:

          The year is 2014 and I’m 42 years old.  My family lives in a 4 bedroom home in the country, with a pool.  We have a few horses and ATV’s which we ride on throughout our five acre property. My photography hobby now supports our family as a business.  I sell my work through my website, at art shows, and a few retail locations.  We’re able to travel as a family to interesting sites across the country where I want to shoot pictures.  My spouse and I have a great relationship – we’re madly in love with each other.  Our three kids are a blessing and I have a special relationship with each one.  We now give away 14% of our income to causes we believe in (included in this is the 10% we give to our church).  We are debt-free (including the house).  The financial stress we used to feel is gone.  Financial freedom feels WONDERFUL!

          Next, review what you wrote.  What stands out to you?  What things, from all that you’ve described, are most important and why?

          Then ask yourself: “How are my current life/work experiences helping me achieve my future?”

          Lastly, ask “What changes do I need to make so that whatever I do is leading me to the realization of my future?

          That’s Pillar #2 – Define Your Preferred Future.  Tomorrow we’ll cover Pillar #3 – Clarify Your Life Purpose.

          Lifestyle Design Process Overview

          Top10I want to share with you my Ten Pillars of Lifestyle Design, to help you achieve your dreams and create more freedom and fulfillment in your life and work.

          Here’s a brief overview of the Ten Pillars:

          We’ll take a closer look at each one of these Ten Pillars of Lifestyle Design over the next several days.

          In the meantime, if you have any questions about Lifestyle Design, or any thoughts or comments from what you’ve read so far, please let me know!