One of the big messages in Be the Master (a now-discontinued book that focused on achieving your success so that you could better help others achieve theirs) was about defining things. Defining your life, and defining your success. Over time, I’ve refined that message a bit, into something that’s more tightly scoped and perhaps more actionable. This week, I’d like you to take a few minutes one day to do your own life assessment. Here’s how:
Draw yourself a chart. You can do this in a spreadsheet, if you want: you’ll need six columns and probably a dozen rows. Leave the first column for a description, but label the last five columns as ratings. So, you might number them 5 to 1, with 5 being awesome and 1 being poor. Or, you might fill in little emoji faces representing a range from “very happy” to “very sad.” Do it however you want.
Starting on line two, in the first column, start writing down the major aspects of your life: Money, Personal Time, Family Time, Vacations, Hobbies, whatever. Those are just ideas; you need to make your own list. They don’t need to be work-related, and probably shouldn’t be. Instead, focus only on life stuff. If you were Independently wealthy—not rich, but perfectly comfortable financially—what would you care about, in life? Write those things down. Don’t take too long to do this, either: if you have to think hard about something, then it’s probably not important. Focus on the “life things” that are most top-of-mind and immediate.
Now rate them.
How’s your level of personal time? Family time? All the rest of it? Just put an X or checkmark or something for each row, indicating whether your’e a “4” or a “Medium-Happy,” or however you’ve arranged your columns. Again, don’t take much time to do this—go with your gut, emotional first reaction.
How’d you do?
As a next step, I’ll often draw arrows indicating where, in the near term, I’d like to try and move my numbers. A lot more free time, a bit more enjoying life with my friends. Sometimes, I might even indicate that I’m willing to be “less happy” with something—maybe less money, in exchange for more free time.
I do this exercise about every six months, and it forms the basis for my career path. Sometimes, I find that my emotional ratings are just fine—I don’t need to make any adjustments. That’s often the case, actually. Other times, I realize that I’m not happy with life, and I need to make some adjustments. Sometimes, that won’t even involve a career change—it just needs for me to make some adjustments, like choosing to spend more of my free time doing one thing than another.
But sometimes, in the past, my assessment has indicated a need for my career to shift. And in those cases, I immediately start working on that shift. What would it take to get… more money? More free time? More of whatever it is in life that I want to make life worth it to me?
So please, take a minute to do your own assessment.