Life/Work Planning

            Life/Work Planning:

7 Steps to Create the Life You Want

                                             by Judy Kaplan Baron, Ph.D.

                               (Judy Kaplan Baron is a Master Career Counselor,                                 Marriage & FamilyTherapist and  Speech Coach / Management Trainer in San Diego, CA)


For most people, life just happens.  They go with circumstances as they present themselves, analogous to a boat without a sail.  However, study after study has demonstrated that people have the power to create the kinds of lives they desires.  Below are seven steps that can move you in the direction of your own choosing.


Step 1:  Create a Picture of Your Current Life.  Draw a circle and divide it into ten sections.  Label each line from the center to the perimeter with one of these aspects of life:  Physical ... Environmental ... Family ... Social .. Emotional ... Spiritual/Religious ... Recreation/Play ... Intellectual ... Work ... Financial.  Next, with the radius (center) of the circle representing completely dissatisfied and the circumference (outside) of the circle representing completely satisfied, place a dot along each line which represents your feelings about that aspect of your life.  To give you some ideas to consider, read the following questions before deciding.


Physical:  How much do you weigh?  What kind of shape are you in? How do you generally feel?  Do you exercise?  How well do you eat?  How's your energy level? Do you get sufficient sleep?  How do you feel about your appearance (including clothes,hair, skin, shoes)? Do you drink too much?  Is smoking still part of your life? How about addictions to sugar, fatty foods, drugs?


Environmental:  How comfortable are you in your home?  How do you feel about your mode of transportation?  What are your work surroundings like?  Are things in your environment in good working order?  Are they clean and organized? Does it matter? How easy is access to nature's beauty; water, mountains, trees, etc.? 


Family:  How are your relationships with people in your family?  How do you want them to be?  Are there family members you need to forgive? Do you see family members often? Is that okay?  Are you thinking about or working towards having children? If divorced, are you working cordially with your ex-spouse where children are concerned?  Are visitation and scheduling acceptable?


Social:  Do you have friends or do you feel isolated? Is the quality of your friendships satisfactory?  Do you take the time and/or initiative to socialize?  Do you maintain relationships?


Emotional:  How's your self-esteem?  Do you feel loved, respected, cared about by others? Do you express your feelings to others?  Are you able to say no and not feel guilty?  Do you have healthy outlets for stress and anger?  Is your cup half-empty or half-full?


Spiritual/Religious:  Are you satisfied with your level of faith?  Do you pray?  Are you affiliated with a spiritual/religious organization?  Is that important to you? How clear are you regarding your beliefs?  Do you honor them on a daily basis?


Recreation/Play:  Do you take time to have fun?  Do you remember what is fun for you?  Do you  sometimes stop acting like an adult and just enjoy the process of playing?


Intellectual:  Are you learnining and growing personally?  professionally?  Do you read intellectually stimulating information?  How content are you with your current knowledge base?


Work:  Do you enjoy your work?  Does it fit your abilities, interests, values and personality?  Are advancement opportunities available?  Do you feel appreciated for your efforts?  Do you like the people with whom you work?

Financial:  How much money do you make?  How well do you budget your money?  Do you have debt?  Are you handling your money well?  How about investments, including retirement funds?


Now, connect the dots you've drawn on your paper. 

How does your circle of life look?


If you want to strengthen your re-balancing skills, practice "trusting" along with your other daily habits and activities such as brushing your teeth, exercising, or opening your mail.  Start the day with, " I trust the sun will come up today...I trust my key will fit into the ignition today ... I trust my arm will reach high enough to brush my hair this morning."  With the multitude of changes going on in the workplace today from implementing new computer software to corporate acquisitions and downsizing, our routines have been disrupted.  Fear often accompanies significant changes and we resist, because we do not have adequate information to integrate the effects of the change in our psyche.  So strengthen the feeling of trust and let go of the "expected" outcomes.  You will be pleasantly surprised with the results.


Step 2.  Imagine being completely satisfied in each area of your life.  What would that mean?  Hear the words you would say internally.  Listen to what you and others say.  Visualize the images.  What would you see around you?  Get a sense of your feelings.  What emotions exist?  What textures are around?  What do you smell and taste?  Imagine your ideal situation as if it were real, right now.


Step 3.  Determine, set and write personal and professional goals.  Be specific and create measurements for each desired outcome.  Create some that are relatively short-term and others which are long-term.  Identify target dates for each goal's accomplishment.  Develop and write out interim objectives, including the specifics necessary to follow through.  Assure that each goal supports your personal values and mission.


Step 4.  Get and stay organized.  Write a daily list of, "Things to do."  Prioritize your list with A's - highest priority, B's for tasks which need to be completed sometime this week, and C's - items to do whenever you can get to them.  Then, within the A's, prioritize them  from most important to least important, e.g. A1, A2, A3, etc.  Keep your prioritized list of things to do visible at all times.  Stick to accomplishing A's, never B's or C's.


Step 5.  Fake it until you make it.  Practice holding your body, thinking the thoughts, speaking the language, and feeling the emotions of the highest level of satisfaction possible in your life.  Act as if you have already succeeded.  This helps create the emotions, beliefs, and performance so necessary to achieve goals.


Step 6.  Be persistent and follow-through.  How many times have you failed when you refused to give up?  Probably never.  Stay motivated and determined.  Find creative ways to solve problems.  Believe that you can succeed.  Use people in your network as resources.  Be compulsive about following-up.


Step 7.  Consistently re-evaluate your life.  Increase your awareness.  Learn to identify and differentiate those events over which you have control and those over which you have no control.  Make conscious choices.  If you are contributing to your demise in any way, make different choices.  Be proactive as much as possible rather than reactive.  Continually set yourself in motion and redirect your energies to create the life you desire.