Which health change should you make first? Part 3 of 6
Another way to choose your first change.
Perhaps you feel that your health is not the best area to start with or you would like to change more than just your physical wellbeing. If you would like to consider wider applications for your newly developing skills, use a wheel of life to find your way forward. This simple tool has its roots in Buddhism. Called the Bhavacakra by Tibetan Buddhist monks, it is a visual representation of the Samsara or the circle of life. The wheel of life illustrates religious teachings so they can be explained in simple terms to the masses and is found on the walls of most Tibetan Buddhist temples. Images of Bhavacakra are intricate and vivid with great spiritual meaning. Our wheel of life is much plainer and simple to understand.
By labelling the chart with the aspects of life which are most important to you and assigning a satisfaction score it can become clear where you will benefit from making change. With a score of zero in the centre and 10 on the outside rim you can measure how happy you are with each element of your life. You can have different wheels for different parts of your life or add areas which may be more important.
Here are some areas you may like to add to your wheel of life.
Are you in good health? Do you take regular exercise? Has this remained constant throughout your life or have your years brought excess weight, aches or pains? Do you relax and sleep well? Are you reliant on stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine, or relaxants such as alcohol?
Do your family support you and are they close by? Alternatively, does your family need more support than they give, for example if you are caring for a relative?
Do your friends build you up or drag you down? Do you spend your time helping them or asking for support?
Is there too much month at the end of the money? Are you comfortable with contingency savings available in the bank? Do you have a retirement plan? Is your mortgage repaid? What about debts: are you carrying long term loans or hire purchase agreements? How long would you manage without a monthly pay cheque?
Are you able to take time for yourself? Do you have any hobbies or activities you enjoy and share with others? Does your recreation time improve your happiness levels?
6. Personal Growth
Are you interested in increasing your wisdom and skills? Do you make plans for the future and set regular challenges for yourself or do you avoid learning opportunities?
How happy are you at your job? Are you trusted, are your efforts recognised? Do you have control over your workday? Are you well supported so you can achieve your best work? Are you paid well for your work? Is your workplace environment well organised and managed?
Do you have a significant other? Are they caring, loving and supportive? Are you physically and emotionally satisfied with your love life? Do you receive enough attention and affection? Do you return enough love and affection? Is your partner happy and content with your relationship?
Have you seen enough of the world? Do you like to learn about different cultures? Is travel easy for you or does the stress of arranging journeys put you off? Are there people close to you who share your desire to travel?
Do you plan meals and cook from scratch? Do you pay attention to the kinds of food you eat? Or do you leave the decisions to the stores by buying new diet products or expensive meals? Do you know enough about what fuels you? Do you take the time to properly nourish your body?
Once you have chosen and scored your areas you have a visual representation of the aspects of your life that you should prioritise. You can choose one to be your “One Big Thing” and follow the same process as before. Again, break up your big change into a series of steps so you can find the first stage and you’re ready to begin.
You may find that one area of your life rates much lower than the rest but still feel reluctant to make that change straightaway. Perhaps your romance segment is low but you’re still battling through a break up or your career portion is lacking but the employment market is not strong enough to support a shift of jobs. You can choose to leave those areas until you are stronger at making change, however you should always consider what the appropriate “One Big Thing” and its first step would be within that particular field. While the whole may seem insurmountable the first step on that path may yet be easy.
It could be that the “One Big Thing” required in one aspect opposes something essential in another for example wanting to move away to a different job but having family members who need your help. The wheel of life allows us to remain detached from these desires so we can better look at the path to each and seek points of overlap. Perhaps you have been considering sourcing some carer assistance for your relative. You could introduce this slowly while you spend time increasing your training and skills in your chosen field.
Next week we'll consider further how making change will affect different areas of your life and demonstrate how we can ask for help even before we begin.