Creating the Life you want to Lead
It is fair to say that the past few months have been unlike any we have experienced in our lifetime. For some, this has been an incredibly difficult time with numerous challenges – personal, emotional, financial etc. For others it has been a rather wonderful opportunity to take a step back from the usual rhythms of life and take the time to reflect and recalibrate. Whichever category you fall into, the time is coming for us all to move forward.
Having worked online with patients over the past few months, a determination to make changes to their lives going forward has come up again and again. The most common themes include:
- Not working as hard
- Making more time for myself
- Keeping up with my exercise
- Continuing to eat home made, nutritious food
- Maintaining my mindfulness practise
- Working from home more
- Keeping in touch with friends
You will no doubt have your own.
Interestingly, a study by palliative care nurse, Bronnie Ware, found not dissimilar desires in her patients. When caring for them during the last few weeks of their lives, she asked them if there was anything they would have done differently. She found the same themes surfaced again and again. The top five were:
- I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me
- I wish I didn’t work so hard
- I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings
- I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends
- I wish that I had let myself be happier
Do any of these ring true for you?
If so, this would be the perfect time to review where you are right now. Are there any areas of your life you would like to change/work on? If so, how could you put these changes into practise?
Sometimes, with the best will in the world, just having the intention to make changes floating around in your head is not enough. Actually putting these desires into action can get lost in translation! Therefore, I would like to take the opportunity to offer you a couple of tools you can use to gain clarity on what is important to you. Clearly resolving issues often does not happen over night, but the first step to making change is being aware of what you would like to change.
The Wheel of Life
Take the time to identify the different areas you have in your life. These might include:
- Personal development
- Spiritual wellbeing
- Physical environment
This will be different for every person. There are no right or wrong answers.
Once you have created your list, a brilliant way to gain a clear overview of how you are getting on is to use the Wheel of Life (below).
As you can see, on your Wheel of Life there are empty boxes around the edge of the Wheel. Simply fill in these blank boxes, dedicating one box to an area of importance to you in your life. When you have allocated a role to each of the boxes score how you feel about each one on a scale of 1-10 (10 being highly satisfied). Colour in the corresponding brick that represents the score you have given. It will give you a wonderful visual image of the current balance in your life. Is the wheel as round as you would like it to be? If it were a bike wheel, would it roll evenly, or would it be an uncomfortable ride!?
Once you have done this, add up you score and make a note of it at the bottom of the page for future reference. What is your current score out of 80? What would you like it to be?
To help you start moving towards your goal, take a moment to write down a list of steps you might need to take in order to help you reach your desired score. I have attached a form for you to use. (Please Click Here to download a Printable Goal Form.)
- Find an exercise that I would enjoy doing every week
- Invest in a Personal Trainer to get me started
- Allocate time to exercise in my diary
- Call a friend for a chat every week
- Ensure I meet up with friends at the weekend
- Go to the theatre once a month
Once you have done this, you will have a clearer idea of any imbalances in your life and hopefully have a few ideas on how to resolve them. Sometimes simply being aware of an issue can be enough to effect a change but, more often than not, this is something you will need to work on regularly.
Remember, no one can tackle everything at once, therefore be kind to yourself and set yourself small, achievable goals. Book in a time to check in with your Wheel to review progress and set new goals. Do this as often as seems right to you, but initially I would recommend you do this on a weekly basis. It will help you stay focussed.
Another tool I use to keep my life on track is a Vision Board. Those of you I have treated online over the past few months will have noticed the Vision Board behind my desk – this particular Vision Board (I have several!) is my main Vision Board. It focusses on the areas of my life that are most important to me at the moment. It covers four areas: my family, holidays I want to go on(!), my ideal home and my work aspirations. I am a firm believer in what you focus on grows. Therefore, to me, a Vision Board is vital as it helps me to put my energy into what I think is important.
“All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become” Buddha
Picture taken from Pinterest Source
Also, having a Vision Board that you look at every day means you essentially end up doing short visualisation exercises throughout the day. This might seem a little ‘airy-fairy’ but, in fact, visualisation is an incredibly powerful technique. It is used by Olympic athletes to improve performance and in medicine to manage some symptoms. For example, BreastCancer.org states that ‘studies have shown that practicing guided imagery may be able to temporarily increase numbers of immune system cells to keep the rest of your body healthy, reduce feelings of depression and increase feelings of well-being’. Why would you not want incorporate visualisation into your daily life?!
However, it is not enough to simply stick some pretty pictures on a board. The key to creating a Vision Board that works is to ensure it focuses on how you want to feel, not only on things you want. Therefore, think about the areas of your life you selected for your Wheel of Life. Imagine how you would like each of these areas to look and feel. Then simply get creative!
How to make a vision board:
- Some people like to create their Vision Board on Pinterest, which is obviously fine! Personally, I love cutting things up and sticking them on!
- For a big Vision Board I use a cork board, then I can pin the images to the board. This makes it easier to change and update throughout the year
- For a smaller board – e.g. if it is for a specific project – I might use a large piece of cardboard and glue pictures to the card. These are fun to keep if you have the space – you can go back and look at them at a later date and you will be amazed to see what has come to fruition!
- Equipment you need to put your board together: scissors, pins and glue
- Equipment you need to create the board: magazines/postcards/catalogues/ newpapers/photos/quotes etc. – flip through them and find words and images that resonate and inspire you, then cut them out and pin them up!
- Allow yourself time to do this – allocate a couple of uninterrupted hours to put it all together. It is best to create your board in a calm environment where you do not feel in a rush. Set the mood – light a candle, play you favourite music, clear the space to get creative – do whatever you need to do to allow you to really connect with, and feel, your Vision Board
- Finally, it is important to hang it in a place where you will see it every day (in your office, bathroom, bedroom) so you can feel and visualise your dreams, goals and desires
Most importantly have fun! Keep updating your board. I create a new one every year in January, but I modify it throughout the year. I also create smaller boards on a project-by-project basis. Trust me – you will be amazed by its power!
If you would like to go through this in more detail with me on a one to one basis, please feel free to contact me. Also, please leave a message below. I would love to hear how you get on with both the Wheel of Life and the Vision Board!
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