Finding Balance in Your Life – Some Ideas I’ve Found Helpful

Part One: Career

Roll With It – The Wheel of Life

A very popular activity that many coaches use to help clients identify goals is the Wheel of Life.  A quick internet search will reveal the popularity of this activity, along with many templates for your own Wheel of Life.  Most have several categories already designated, such as career, family, health, wealth, spirituality, etc.  A few are blank, inviting you to choose the categories that are most meaningful to you.   The idea is to rate your satisfaction in each of these areas of your life to come up with a graph.  Artistic types might want to color-code their categories.  For other, more data-oriented folks, similar results could be achieved be creating a bar graph or spreadsheet.  For visually oriented people, this can be a meaningful exercise that reveals where your life may be out of balance.  It is important to note that it is not necessary to strive for equality among the different categories; you may be fine with putting more time and effort into some than others.  I myself have created a wheel of life, and I keep it as a reminder in my journal, so that I’m accountable to myself for devoting time to each of the areas in which I want to grow. 

In the next several posts, I want to focus on different areas of the Wheel of Life and share resources and ideas to promote growth and satisfaction for each:  consider it like an Oprah-style endorsement.  (I’ll bet the people whose products I am endorsing wish I had a fraction of Oprah’s following!)

Working for a Living

Since the last few posts have been about career changes, I’ll start there.  When I decided last January to leave my high school teaching position, it was time to take stock of my skills, talents and dreams to decide what to do next.  While I had tremendously enjoyed being an Instructional Coach, that role had changed over the last couple of years, with less focus on a true coaching partnership.  I knew it was time to move away from public education, but to what?

Dan Miller’s book, 48 Days to the Work You Love, is a sort-of career/business coaching book that gives lots of practical advice for making a career change, or improving your situation in your current career.  This book helped me to realize that what I wanted to do was start my own life coaching business.  You can also sign up for Dan Miller’s e-newsletter, seminars, or join his online community.

When investigating a career change, perhaps the most powerful question is, “What would you do for free?”  Often we find that what we are called to do is what we already do naturally.  Many friends, co-workers and students had approached me to be a sounding board for them.  I genuinely enjoy listening to each person’s story; I like discovering what makes people tick.  Deciding to start my own life coaching business was incredibly energizing.  You will know when you’ve found what it is you are meant to do, because you will have almost limitless energy to put toward the tasks ahead; it doesn’t feel like work because you are doing what you love.  You’ll have the affirming sense that deep down, you’ve known this all along.

Another helpful book is Jackee Holder’s Be Your Own Best Life Coach, a self-help guide that has more of a holistic/life coach focus.  This book, along with my own experience being coached,  has helped me to identify the negative thinking that has held me back or caused me to resist making necessary changes.  Do I think you can really be your own best life coach?  No, no more than I think you can do the best job of putting sunscreen on your own back, and for the same reason:  there’s always that one spot that you didn’t reach because you can’t see it.  We’ve probably all been burned by that one, literally and figuratively.  It’s the same thing with life coaching; you can’t change what you can’t see needs to be changed – a coach can bring an objective, outside perspective.  Still, if you’re unsure whether coaching is right for you, this book is a great place to start, as it has lots of activities (like the Wheel of Life) that you can easily do on your own.

There are many other great resources out there for those contemplating a career change, whether it is a minor shift or a major overhaul.  It is always helpful to start by making a list of your skills and talents.  Then, list the aspects of your previous jobs that you liked and disliked.  Of course, any job is going to have a few unpleasant tasks; the trick is finding one where the pros outweigh the cons.  Don’t forget to ask yourself:  What would I do for free?  Perhaps the answer is right there in front of you, making you shake your head, smile and say, “I knew it all along.”

Next week:  Job Hunting



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