Ditch New Year’s Resolutions; THIS Is The Best Goal-Setting Strategy.
Two years ago, I wrote a blog post titled Do NOT set a New Year’s Resolution; I Beg You. Do This Instead, which challenged the idea of New Year’s Resolutions and proposed a new, better method of setting goals: 30-day challenges.
And since then, thousands of people have read the blog post in search of a better way to improve their life.
Several friends of mine even took on the concept and completed their own 30-day challenges. One person did a gratitude challenge, another did 30 days without social media, and another did a healthy eating challenge. One person found such great success; they extended it to more than six months of vegan eating and lost over 50 pounds and looked like the personification of “healthy and happy.”
However, since that time has passed, I’ve found a much better way to make measurable progress in life, which isn’t as intense, overwhelming, and is actually pretty fun.
It’s the Wheel of Life.
If you’ve never heard of it before, it’s one of the most common life assessment exercises that life coaches do with their clients because it helps every one, no matter where they are in life. The benefits of this exercise are wide-ranging and profound.
The Wheel of Life exercise is for you if you’re looking to:
- Get unstuck (big or small)
- Find more balance in your life
- Or kick your life into the next gear
There are some other worth-noting, ancillary benefits too.
After completing the exercise, you’re able to quickly get a pulse on every area of your life how you feel about each area individually as well as holistically, something which can be challenging to articulate never mind measure.
Plus, it’s the perfect way to get a snapshot or benchmark of your life today because it doesn’t focus on the past or the future at all.
I also love this exercise because it doesn’t make you feel bad about what you did or didn’t do in the past. It’s focused solely on your happiness, articulating it, and then helping you find ways to increase it. I happily sit down and do this exercise twice a year, and my husband has even joined me for the last one. I’ve shared it with friends too — and one person brought it to her team at work, and their 8-person team completed it together (I’d only recommend this if you have a lot of trust), and another person ended up loving it so much she hired a life coach afterward.
The idea might be becoming mainstream too. While I first learned about it from my coach two years ago, I’ve since seen it in Michael Hyatt’s ‘Your Best Year Ever’ book.
How to do the Wheel of Life exercise:
- First, print out the Wheel of Life. Here’s the one I use.
- Secondly, select your eight categories. I recommend focusing on the prepopulated ones the first time, as they are the most common. Then as you prepare to do another Wheel of Life, consider expanding to other zones.
- Next, pick a category to start with, and then answer the question: “On a 0–10 scale, how satisfied are you currently with this area of your life?” Then shade in the related amount; if you’re a 4, shade in 40% of the pie or a 2, shade in 20%, a 9, shade in 90%.
- Then work your way around the wheel, answering that same question for each pie slice. At the end of this, you’ll be able to see just how satisfied you are in the foundational areas of your life. You should end up with something that looks like this but may be less colorful.
- Lastly, and THIS IS WHERE THE MAGIC REALLY HAPPENS AND IS A BIT TRICKY. Pick the 1–3 categories where you want to make an impact first and then identify 1–2 things you can do to improve that category. Let me explain.
Pick one category to start.
Let’s say you pick “Health” and you put a 3.
Now ask yourself, “What’s one thing I can do to move my 3 to a 4?”
For some people it might be drinking more water, for others, it might be walking 2x a week for 30 minutes, for someone else, it might be to eat healthier meals for lunch, and someone else might want to stretch for 5 minutes every day.
While these might seem like small goals, they’re helping you move from a 3 to a 4, not a 3 to an 8.
What everyone says here is likely going to be different, which is part of the beauty of this exercise — it’s hyper-personalized to the person doing it because we know ourselves and what we need most. You can pick 1–2 goals or things to do/not do per pie segment, but then also replicate this same strategy for another pie segment.
Just as a quick FYI — whatever you pick as your activity for improvement, make it a SMART goal.
Because of the Wheel of Life, I:
- grew closer with my husband by instituting a weekly Date Night where each other surprised the other with a date evening
- I also improved my mental health by reducing my unthinking, reflexive social media routines from my life.
- I enhanced my perception of my money management by developing a monthly burn-down/savings chart with my husband, which we update every month.
- I further developed my relationships with friends and family by creating times to connect (a personal favorite was hosting a Friendsgiving this year), plus focusing on unplugging from technology while doing so.
How about you?
Most often when we set goals, we feel they need to be massive undertakings. They need to be painful and induce suffering, otherwise, they won’t be meaningful or worthy enough to pursue. But that’s not true.
Fortunately, the Wheel of Life challenges those assumptions. It helps us to measure our life’s happiness, but also help us pick off one-two ways to improve our areas of life, and can even be fun.
Imagine what your life might be like if you were able to make significant improvements to areas of your life — changes that make your life more meaningful, enjoyable, and that align closer with who you are and want to become.
Ready to strengthen your bond with your partner, become healthier and fitter, connect more to friends and family, become a better parent, love your work more, and develop a better relationship with money?
Complete your own Wheel of Life! It takes about 1 hour to do. Download the PDF (this template is for anyone; I just like this one most since it has a lot of areas of focus/zones to select from).
PST… Want to know how I review and plan my year to make sure I’m living a more fulfilling life aligned with my purpose and values?
My personal annual planning workbook! This year, I’ve made it available for download, you get it here.
Or if you want to do a mid-year review, here’s the workbook for that.