3 Ways to Increase Your Life Satisfaction - TODAY
Donny and I were sitting in class having a conversation. We were comparing our situation in life. My answer to the question we were asking was 187 days. His was 7 days.
The topic: when would we get our driver’s licenses.
We both longed for that independence. That freedom. That milestone. Donny’s wait was a mere few days, and mine was…well… a long time. He was having a great day! My day got a little worse.
Finally, the day came, August 14th. 187 days after my conversation with Donny, I “made” my mom drive me to the nearby town so I could get my driver’s license on my 16th birthday. (My small Iowa town didn’t give out driver’s licenses on my actual birthday.) I was so excited! Even though all I had was a green station wagon, I was excited to get in my car and drive wherever I needed – a friend’s house, school, work. I could go when I wanted. And, if I wanted to, I could stop at my favorite gas station and buy some Laffy Taffy!
What does this story have to do with Life Satisfaction?
You’ve probably heard the saying, “You get out of life what you put into it.”
What would happen if we lived our current lives with the excitement and passion that I had to get my driver’s license?
If we really took ownership and got into the driver’s seat of our lives? If we counted down the days to a big milestone.
As a follower of Jesus, I believe He is the ultimate driver of my life, however, it’s hard for Him to guide a parked car. It’s up to me to get it in gear and start moving.
This is blog #2 in the series Your Next Move. It’s intended to help you reflect, reassess, reinvent, and recommit to intentionally living your life so that, one year from now, you can look back with a sense of pride, accomplishment, and satisfaction.
Last week, in my blog, "Is It Time to Change the Settings for Your Life," I talked about the what’s, why’s, and how’s of intentional reflection. Today well look at 3 ways to assess your life.
I've taken hundreds of people through exercises similar to the ones I'm going to talk about. Nearly 100% of the time people realize they have more to be thankful for than they thought. However, more importantly, they figure out where the low spots are, so they can put their time and energy where it matters (and increase their satisfaction!).
3 Ways to Assess Your Life and Increase Your Satisfaction
Creating a Lifeline is a simple way to get a visual, bird’s eye view of your life that can
· balance out our perspective (We are too hard on ourselves!)
· provide insights into our priorities (past and present)
· illuminate patterns (good and bad)
All of which inform our next move(s) so we can increase our life satisfaction.
Here’s how to create a Lifeline:
1. Make a list of about 20 important events, milestones, changes, and achievements in your life - personal and professional, good and bad.
2. Take a piece of paper, the largest you have. Turn it landscape and draw a dotted line across the middle of the page.
3. Plot the events of your life in order, from left to right. Place high points above the dotted line, and low points below it. The more satisfying or positive, the higher the event will be plotted above the line.
4. Connect the dots to reveal your Lifeline.
5. On the back side of the paper answer at least 3 of these questions:
a. What surprised you?
b. How did you achieve your high points?
c. What have you been up against and how did you overcome it?
d. How are you feeling about your life?
e. Where would you like the line to go next?
f. What might be some steps you could take?
g. Which is the most important one?
*Inspired by the Lifeline Discovery tool in Business Model You, A One Page Method for Reinventing Your Career, Tim Clark, Alexander Osterwaldner and Yves Pigneur.
Wheel of Life^
You may have seen or done the Wheel of Life. Google it and you’ll find lots of examples. In its simplest form you:
1. Choose 6 - 8 important aspects of your life.
2. Draw or print a pie chart with a pie piece for each aspect of your life.
3. Starting at the center of the pie, based on your level of satisfaction, shade each piece outwards to the point of your satisfaction. If you are mostly satisfied, you might shade 75-80% of the pie piece. If you're not satisfied, shade only 5%. Remember to assess your level of satisfaction, not the amount of time you spend.
Many people talk about the Wheel of Life as a measure of life balance. I disagree. I think it is best used as a measure of life satisfaction. Note the words I used in step 3 – shade based on your level of Life Satisfaction.
Life Balance is an elusive goal to strive for. There are too many things outside of our control to attain Life Balance. And is life balance a worthy goal to shoot for?
Life Design Coach Jean Vaux suggests that we think of our life as a merry go round rather than a teeter totter. She encourages her clients to focus on what is at the center of their life. What helps you keep your balance while everything else is spinning around you?
For me it's my Christian faith. What keeps you centered while everything else is spinning?
This one is my favorite assessment tool. When I finish doing it, I feel better about my life, and am clearer about my priorities. While you can do it all in one sitting, most of the time I do steps 1-2 in one sitting, 3-4 in another, and 5-6 in another.
1. Choose 5-8 areas of your life that are important to you. For example: family, friends, career, parenting, marriage, health/fitness, finances/wealth, house management, fun and recreation, personal development, volunteering/contribution, or spiritual life.
2. For each areas write what you are Thankful for and Challenged by.
3. After letting it sit a few days, come back and re-read what you wrote.
4. Write possible Goals for the challenges you are ready to do something about. (I take a liberal approach and list all the possible goals.)
5. Let your thoughts sit for a few days (I need time to pray and let my subconscious mind think on them.) Hone your goals down to the most important ones. (Start small 1-5 goals.) And yes, write them in SMART format (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely).
6. Decide what kind of accountability works for you, e.g. accountability partner/group; posting them in a visible place, writing a detailed plan, or creating a reward system.
At this point you might be thinking that this sounds like a lot of work!
You’re right, it is.
But aren’t the insights worth the work?
Think of the clarity you’ll receive, the insight into what matters, the increased likelihood of writing goals you’ll achieve.
You don't want to talk the long way do you?
You don't want to settle for a how hum life driven by the mundane?
You've got too much potential for that!
I know I wouldn’t have lived my live as boldly or intentionally without regularly assessing my life using tools like these.
Which one will you do first? Put it in the comments.
P.S. Are you the kind of person who knows you'll do a better job if you do exercises like this with someone? Will you be more likely to stick to your goals if you have an accountability partner? Have you considered hiring a Life Coach? Not sure what that would be like? Schedule a Complimentary Coaching Session and find out!
If you liked this blog, please click the heart! Thanks.