How to use the wheel of life for goal-setting

My absolute favourite place to start goal setting is the wheel of life. By starting with the wheel of life, you get a good overview of all the activities and commitments competing for your attention. It gives you an opportunity to see where you might be out of balance, and where things might need immediate attention. This makes it much easier to realise your priorities and set appropriate goals.

Click below to get your free copy of the wheel of life.

A note before you start: You’ll see the wheel is divided into 12 sections but you can add or remove sections as you wish. Before you start decide if there are any sections you want to add or remove.

Here’s how to use the wheel of life for goal-setting:

1. Prepare your environment

Find somewhere quiet where you won’t be disturbed and create an environment that will allow you to feel grounded. Dimming the lights, lighting a candle, burning some incense work for me. Before you start allow yourself to take a deep breath and quiet your mind.

2. Rate your satisfaction level

With the wheel of life in front of you, quickly, without thinking, rate your satisfaction for each area (1 being least content and 10 being most content). It’s important that you don’t spend too long on this. It should be a gut reaction. There will be time to analyse later!

3. Connect your wheel

Once you’ve allocated numbers to each segment, draw a line to connect the dots.

4. Raise your self-awareness

Take a few minutes to look at your new wheel. What do you notice about it? What are you surprised about? What area is calling for your attention?

5. Laser your focus

Individually focus on each segment. Consider the number you have allocated, and what number you would like it to be within the next 6 months. Then consider what would need to happen for you to achieve that. Consider what you want more of, or what you might need to give up to have that happen.

6. Set your priorities

Once you have looked at each area, look at the wheel as a whole again. You only have limited time and resources, so you may need to prioritize or choose where to place your focus.

7. Set your goals

Choose one or two areas you would like to focus on and set a maximum of 3 goals in total. These are your focus areas. This is not to say the other areas are less important, it just means they are a lower priority in this moment. Usually, when we make a change in one area of our life it directly impacts other areas, so you may see changes in your lower priority areas even if your focus is not on them.

8. Revisit your wheel

I recommend returning to the wheel of life every 6 months, or more if you are feeling stuck or lost. If you engage with it intentionally, you should be able to uncover the area that is making you feel stuck.

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Why you need a break now more than ever

It’s Monday evening and I’m sat at my desk in my slippers and a woolly jumper, listening to Bon Iver. It’s dark and cold outside. There’s no denying that winter is here.

In any ordinary year, I’d be making preparations for Christmas. I’d be getting excited to have some time off, spend time with family and let my hair down. But as you well know, this is not a normal year and this will not be a normal winter.

From the conversations I’m having, it seems that everyone is feeling a bit tired, burnt out, unwell and ready for a break. I can hear it in people’s voices, like energy is being drained with every word spoken.

And yet so many of those conversations end with people telling me they don’t want to take a break because there is no good reason to take a break during lockdown. There’s nothing to do, no one to see and nowhere to go. They might as well push on and get as much work done as possible.

If that is you then what I’m about to say is for you!

Now more than ever, you need to listen to your body. You have been asked to adjust multiple times this year to a constantly changing situation. You are continuously having to make decisions that could impact your health. You are likely grieving things that would have been. You are likely feeling isolated and alone. All this, against an emotional political backdrop. 

Let me be very clear – just because this is the second lock down, doesn’t make it easier. You may think you’re used to it, but you’re not designed to get used to it. You are human and you are a social animal. If anything, right now you’re probably feeling the impact of Covid-19 on your emotions more than before because there is the stark realisation that you are reaching the end of the year and the situation persists. 

So I am writing this post to tell you that if you are finding doing things (or anything) difficult right now, you are not alone. If you are shedding more tears than usual that’s OK. Your body is telling you, you need to slow down and take a break, and not feel bad about it!

Breaks can be long or short. Do what is right for you. Here are a few ideas:

  • Finish work on time
  • Read a novel
  • Light a candle
  • Write down your intentions for the week
  • Get stuck into a new hobby
  • Book a day off
  • Stay in bed
  • Binge watch TV
  • Do a puzzle
  • Go for a long walk
  • Drink hot chocolate
  • Tell a good friend how you’re feeling
  • Cook
  • Paint
  • Meditate
  • Dance

These are just a few ideas, I’m sure you will have your own. What’s important is that you accept what you are feeling right now and listen to what you need. Pushing on relentlessly is only going to make you feel worse, dampen your creativity, and lower your emotional resilience. Now is not the time for that!

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Are you saying ‘No’ to yourself?

I can’t, I shouldn’t, not today, maybe tomorrow, not right now, later, I’m busy, I’m too tired, sorry but…, I would but…, No. Whatever way you choose to say it, you are saying NO.⁠

And there is a time for no. No is for setting boundaries, no is a powerful stand against something, no is to warn against harm or danger. No should be a conscious decision to not do something. But how often are you really using ‘no’ as intended? And how often are you just saying no to avoid being seen, avoid taking chances, avoid being out of your comfort zone, avoid being who you really are?⁠

If you are saying no more than you are saying yes, the likelihood is that you are missing out on a lot in life and you are saying no to parts of who you are. ⁠This leads you to feel like you have lost parts of yourself, because in some ways you have. Every time you deny who you are, you gradually bury that part of yourself until you can’t remember what you were like.

When I reflect on all the times I have said no to myself over the years the memory that sticks out most for me is being at a friends birthday party and being asked if I wanted to join in a baseball game. I knew my younger self would have loved playing, would have jumped at this opportunity, but in that moment I said no. I didn’t want to look stupid, I didn’t want to be noticed, and I didn’t want to allow myself to let loose and have fun.  I remember feeling sad that day but not really understanding why. Now I can see that I was not being true to who I am, I was denying myself the opportunity to be me and have fun.

On face value it doesn’t sound like a big deal to say no to playing baseball, but if I didn’t have a real reason not to, then why didn’t I say yes? And if this seemingly insignificant memory stands out to me, then how many times did I say no to things without recognising the damage it was having.

As Shonda Rhimes writes in ‘Year of Yes’, “losing yourself does not happen all at once. Losing yourself happens one ‘no’ at a time.”

If you’re saying no to things a lot, and your no’s aren’t making you feel empowered then ask yourself:

  • What part of yourself are you saying no to?
  • What are you missing out on by saying ‘no’?
  • What would be different if you said yes?
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How to cut out the noise and discover what’s important

Often the women I work with tell me it feels selfish to ‘want’. They haven’t been brought up to want things, instead they have been brought up to meet expectations. We live in a world full of expectations which we gradually assume to be our own. The expectations of parents, teachers, partners, professors, employers, society…the list continues. With all these competing expectations it is often hard to know what we actually desire.

Why does it even matter?

Every time you take on someone else’s expectations, a small part of who you are is hidden away. You mould yourself to fit the box that someone else wants you to fit into. In doing so you limit yourself to that space, you judge yourself if you don’t meet those expectations and you likely begin to feel like something is missing, like part of you is missing – the authentic part of yourself is missing. By hiding away your true self and attempting to meet these external expectations, you severely limit your ability to achieve your full potential.

What can you do about it?

  1. Identify the noise

Create a list of all the expectations you currently feel and identify where those expectations are coming from. Highlight in one colour all the expectations that are from other people, institutions or society, In another colour highlight the expectations you put on yourself.

Re-read all the expectations and choose which ones you actually want to keep. Remember this is your choice. You don’t ‘have to’ do anything!

Once you have cut out the noise of external and outdated expectations ask yourself ‘What do I want?’

2. Reject ‘Junk’ values & Discover Meaningful values

Our values are what guide our decision making. When we know what our values are we usually have increased clarity about what we want. However, in the western world we are largely encouraged to subscribe to materialistic ‘junk’ values such as wanting more money, more possessions, status and recognition. These are not our own true values however and they get in the way of us really understanding what guides us and what our purpose is.

To uncover your values ask yourself;

a) Who do I admire?

What are the qualities of the people you admire? What about those qualities is important to you? For example ‘I admire Beyonce because she is strong’ could mean strength is a value.

b) What makes me angry?

When noticing what makes you angry, think about what value is being dishonoured by that action. For example ‘I get angry when others are publicly humiliated’ could be a value of compassion.

3. Spend time with yourself

Often when we are unsure of what we want, we ask friends, family and trusted advisors, or we search the internet looking for answers. Despite best intentions, this can often lead to information overload and overwhelm at all the options and conflicting advice.

Instead of asking others, choose an activity you enjoy and go and do it by yourself. Whilst you’re doing that reflect on what is important for you in life. If you imagine yourself at the end of your life, looking back on where you are now, what would your future self want to tell your current self?

By spending time with yourself, you have more space to think, reflect and to develop trust in your decision making.

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