Do you wish you could just hit a big red re-set button every time the new year rolls around?
You’ve probably tried before. Perhaps, you’ve failed a few times.
So, what gives?
Well, you might not be sure what is causing your unhappiness.
You need a way to identify the problem, figure out a strategy, and track your progress towards a more balanced life.
Here is a fast and simple strategy anyone can use, at any time to help pinpoint what might be bringing you down. Then start considering what incremental improvements may look like.
In this post, you’ll learn how to break your life into 10 key areas, then rate them on a scale from 1 to 10 using a strategy called the Pillars of a Balanced Life.
What's causing problems in your life?
Think about your car. If there is a problem, there are a few ways mechanics narrow down where to look. The mechanic doesn’t start from scratch.
There’s a few different categories of parts that they look into.
Even if you haven’t noticed a problem, you probably take your car for an annual inspection.
The Pillars of a Balanced Life is a strategy for inspecting your life.
The only difference, nobody is making you do it. And, nobody has to see the results.
Unless you want to share.
What Are The Pillars of a Balanced Life?
The Pillars of a Balanced Life is a five-minute exercise developed by the folks at Mentor Coach. You rate your life in 10 individual categories, then rate your overall satisfaction with your life.
When you’re finished you’ll better understand what’s out of whack. And, where to begin changing things up so you can relax and start living a happier life.
And after all, don’t you owe it to yourself to try?
How do the Pillars of a Balanced Life Work?
Download the worksheet to get started rating your overall satisfaction with your life.
For each of the categories, rate your happiness on a scale from 1 to 10. It’s fast, and it’s easy to do. If easier just rate next to each bullet on the list below.
1 is the least happy you can be, and 10 is the happiest you can be. Professional
When you’re done, look at each category individually as well as your total overall rating out of 100.
Here’s a few questions and tips to think about when reviewing each different area of your life.
How do you feel about your job and career?
We spend a lot of time working. If you’re not happy with what you’re doing, consider the reasons.
How can you improve your work life?
Are you getting the compensation and recognition you deserve? Is your job aligned with your values? Are you doing what you really want to do? Or are you hungry for a change?
Dalai Llama’s book on happiness tells us that if you’re worried about putting food on the table or keeping a roof over your head you cannot be happy. The super stressful fear of these two things must be put to rest before you can move toward true happiness.
If you’re unhappy financially, changes to your career may be a place to begin. Resume writers, career coaches, and other resources can help you explore ways to improve your financial situation.
When was the last time you had a physical? How is your sleep and diet?
Do you have common risk factors that you worry about?
Perhaps you struggle with weight gain or hormonal changes that come with aging, but don’t know that there is help available or how to get it.
Any or all of these things may be stopping you from being your best and getting the most out of life.
For many of us, the spiritual realm is an organized religion. Spirituality doesn’t isn’t necessarily the same as religion.
You may regard yourself as spiritual, but not religious. Or you may be a devotee of ancient Egypt’s astrology.
It’s a very personal and private matter but the fact is most humans believe in some form of higher power. A creator, or some other incarnation. How do you express your spirituality?
- Do you feel closer to a higher power when listening to music or playing an instrument?
- Do your family and friends respect your beliefs, even if they differ from yours?
- Are you confident with your spirituality around your family and circle of friends?
- Do you feel aligned in your family and circle of friends in your beliefs?
Dr. Robert Stenberg, one of the world’s foremost researchers on the science of relationships defines intimacy as “feelings of closeness, connectedness, and bondedness in loving relationships”.
A component of intimacy can be passion, but we can also feel this closeness without the passion. That’s why intimacy doesn’t always have to take place with a significant other. It might be friends, family and others you feel close to.
Intimacy is one of the things that makes life worth living (think of your best friend or a favorite aunt or uncle & the fun times you shared that brought you closer together).
When you need someone to talk to who do you call? Do you have a hobby or tradition you celebrate with your circle of friends? How about co-workers? Does your family live close by?
We all need help once in a while and it helps you be happier. Everything is easier when you know you have people to lean on. A social support system helps us to avoid depression and other stress-related ailments.
Whether you’re single or in a committed relationship, family matters.
How often and openly you interact with family members is central to our feeling of fulfillment.
Family ranges from immediate family to extended family, and even those that aren’t in your “traditional” family tree.
Whatever it is, the bonds of family have a deep and lasting imprint on us.
Some of us don’t have family living or that are nearby, and we manage to make a second family of friends that enrich our lives and fill that gap.
Another idea from the Dali Llama is that people are born with three innate needs.
- to love
- to learn
- to leave a legacy, so learning is definitely something to factor in.
Many of the happiest, most fulfilled people are always learning something new or experiencing new adventures.
This learning can take place at work in a career that’s fulfilling or in your free time by reading, experimenting with new hobbies or travel the world experiencing different cultures.
How comfortable are you in your surroundings? The environment can impact how we feel and contribute to a buildup of stress leading to all kinds of unhealthy conditions.
Do you have enough light in your office space? Does your upstairs neighbor destroy your sleep with loud music and stomp around the house in combat boots that makes you unable to enjoy your space.
Is your office commute over 2 hours /day in traffic so you’re exhausted before you even begin your workday? Or do you have a manageable commute and a lovely window and amenities in your office space like access to a gym or cafeteria?
Have you perhaps even gone as far as Fung Shui-ing your space?
If you’re like most of us, you might not give this much thought But, take the time to now, because your surroundings are critical to your feeling of fulfillment.
Lots of people forget to build time into their calendar to do fun stuff. When was the last time you took a drive without having a destination just to enjoy the fall leaves, or left for the weekend on the spur of the moment and rented a place to stay overnight in a new town?
How about concerts for those music lovers out there? Some people I know even love a weekly game of scrabble or poker.
Whatever it is for you, don’t underestimate the power of fun to rejuvenate yourself and de-stress.
Overall Life Satisfaction
Be honest – on the day to day what does your gut say?
How about your heart?
Are you coasting along at an average loving life level of 8 or higher? Or are must days in the 4 to 5, “meh” range?
It’s not easy to take our own inventory.
But it’s the only way to build awareness of the big picture.
What key pieces of that puzzle are missing for you? Which need to be found and put where they belong so you can enjoy the masterpiece of life that you have created.
Total Your Results
Now, it’s time to add up all of your numbers for the ten individual categories to get your Overall Life Satisfaction out of 100.
If you entered three 7s (21), four 5s (20), two 4s (8) and a 1 you would add them up like this 21+20+8+1 = 50.
50 is your overall life satisfaction score.
But it’s not really about the total score.
Learn Where You Need Improvement
In the Overall Life Satisfaction example above, the total score was 50 out of 100.
Now, simply divide by 10 to get your average Life Satisfaction rating.
50/10 = 5 out of 10 Average Overall Life Satisfaction.
After you know the average, you can compare each individual category to your average.
Then, focus on improving the life categories where you’re less satisfied than average.
There's no such thing as a bad score
It’s not about who scores the highest.
In this example, if you could raise the 1 to a 2 or a 3 in your social support column, what would that look like and how would it improve your life on the day to day?
The idea is not that the 1 is bad and the 10 is good but moreover to raise your awareness of what area(s) is out of balance with the rest that may be stopping you from having a happier and fulfilling life.
Many of us have too much going on to realize this without seeing it right in front of us, laid out simply in black and white like this. The good news is once you know what needs a bit of attention in your life, you can start to make things better one step at a time.
Set realistic goals and rather than trying to go from 1 to 10, instead, ask yourself what you can change to elevate the 3 in your Family column, for example, to a 4 or a 5.
Then come up with a plan, prepare and take action! Life is beautiful. Make the most of yours!
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