Three Ingredients for Living Well


As of late, I’ve been feeling quite light. And this got me thinking about The Wheel of Life and how I might extend this sensation (which is surely a fleeting one) a little longer.

The Wheel of Life exercise, if you haven’t come across it before, entails scoring each domain with your level of satisfaction from 0 to 10 (see below). While a score of 10 out of 10 across the board may be possible, I’ve never encountered anyone who’s done it. Was I to meet someone who has, I can just imagine them bragging, “Yeah man, I have my shit together.”

I’m of the belief that there is no true balance to strike amidst all the domains in life. We hear stories of those with all the wealth but failing health. Then there are those who have high-flying careers but no time for much else. You get the picture. The domains of life don’t always fit smoothly into a wheel and often feel more like a seesaw. When one thing is up, another is down.

Perhaps there is another way to frame how we’re doing in life. Inspired by a mental model developed by Warren Buffet and Charlie Munger, I’ve cooked up these 3 ingredients that I think can help us all live better lives.

Expansion

Let’s get real, achieving perfection in all domains is probably never going to happen. Perfectionists often find themselves in a trap. Funnily enough, I’ve suffered a bit of this with this very newsletter, as it’s taken me longer to write than any other in 15 years. I could fiddle forever.

Just think of your to-do list and how it keeps growing. While you may cross off many items of your list, undoubtedly you add more. Simply accepting the fact that you’ll never get everything done can be very liberating. Similarly, letting go of the self-imposed idea that your life must be perfectly balanced can be a huge relief. 

Instead, we might adopt the attitude for continuous improvement. What famed psychologist Carol Dwek labels a ‘Growth Mindset’ is the first ingredient in living wisely, agreeably, and well. When we stay curious about the ways in which we can better ourselves, learn through experience and reflection, then we can really expand our lives.

Introspection

My dad is puzzled about what I do with all of the A4 moleskins in my closet. I tell him that they help me make sense of ‘stuff’ — books, articles, conversations, and the like. But really what I’ve learned is that this recording is an honest way for me to self-report. The number of folks I encounter who journal is growing, and to my delight, they always appear to have a twinkle in their eye. 

When we are brutally honest with ourselves in how we’re doing in any domain of our lives, we can use our own feedback to our advantage. We can self-regulate, measure progress, and identify and break unhealthy patterns so we can improve. When we regularly take stock (or account for our soul), we can discern what to do differently next time and where to put in the effort.

Dad then tells me he does all of this in the form of a 76-paged excel sheet that tracks all of his major life events. While it’s a very impressive record, I tell him that the constraints of excel could hinder his free-flowing thoughts and reflections. He shrugs his shoulders and I lose the will to say that journaling is the second ingredient in living well.

Inspiration

Before we can make meaningful change we need to elicit the input of others. This is why organizational consultant (and new mom) Sara Avrahami Klaben and I launched the Shape of Work program. This six-week collaborative sprint is specifically designed to enhance your career. As this domain of the Wheel of Life is improved, others typically follow suit.

The biggest takeaways for participants are the ability to gain new perspectives, welcome change, and regenerate themselves. It’s powerful stuff I promise. This third ingredient is really about coaching people. The role of the coach is to actively help their client create a new reality. It’s where introspection and inspiration dance together.

Being in transition is commonly perceived as a negative. Your identity is in limbo and this causes anxiety. During this time, having a coach to challenge you is more impactful and also more fun. You find that by working together new possibilities for growth will emerge.

This feeling of lightness will subside. And on that note, I do apologize but the perfectionist in me has given up and is now shouting ‘hit publish!’


If you enjoyed this read, Then you may like the Shape of Work program that kicks off on November 1st. We’ll be diving into all of the above and so much more. Learn more here.

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