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How-to: Life area measurement exercise

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In my post on self-care, I recommend that you conduct a life area measurement exercise. This simple exercise will help you identify what aspects of life are important to you, and how you’re doing in those areas. Knowing this is the first step to making your life more awesome! This post will guide you through the process.

What is a “life area”?

A “life area” is an aspect of life that you find important. There are many different ways of thinking about the various aspects of our lives, but most lists tend to include some combination of:

  • Career/business/job
  • Finances/wealth
  • Friends
  • Family
  • Physical health
  • Mental health
  • Fitness/exercise
  • Learning/education
  • Romance
  • Community
  • Fun & recreation
  • Personal/spiritual development
  • Physical environment
  • Adventure

Why do a life area measurement exercise?

Do you ever feel like your life isn’t quite what you wanted or expected it to be? Do you look at people around you and wonder how they seem to “have it all together”, but you feel like you’re floundering? Maybe you’re feeling unhappy or unfulfilled, but you’re not quite sure why. Or perhaps life is pretty good, but you’re sure it could be even better.

If any of the above applies to you, then you can benefit from doing a life area measurement exercise.

What is a life area measurement exercise?

The life area measurement exercise is an opportunity to look at the areas of life that are important to you, and then assess how you’re going in each area. It takes around half an hour to do, and at the end, you’ll know how you’re doing in each area you’ve selected, and you’ll be ready to create an action plan to make improvements in a couple of key areas.

How do I do the exercise?

I’ve created a downloadable template for this exercise – just click on the filename below to grab your free PDF copy!

Start by building a list of life areas that are important to you. You can use the list above, or come up with your own topics with the following thought exercise. When you’ve got your list, you’ll measure your current state (because in order to get anywhere, first, we need to know where we are).

First, identify which areas of life are important to you

For this exercise, you’ll need a quiet space and something to take notes with (use the template above or make a list on your favourite device).

  1. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. This sends a message to your body and mind to relax.
  2. With your eyes still closed, name two or three different sounds you can hear nearby, and one that is further away. This helps you put aside distractions and become “present”.
    (If you’re in a very quiet space, then scan your body for sensations – the feeling of sitting or standing, whether the air around you is warm or cool, any scents you can smell.)
  3. Open your eyes.
  4. Think about times in your life when you’ve been feeling great – what was going well? Jot these down.
  5. Now think about times when things seemed tough, or it was hard to find a sense of joy – what wasn’t going well? Add these to your list.
  6. And finally, can you think of any other aspects of your life that are important to you, but haven’t already come up? Round your list out with these. Now the fun can begin!

Second, measure your current state

To do this exercise, you’ll need your list, and a blank sheet of paper – A4 or bigger works well. The link above contains templates for doing this exercise with 8 or 10 items.

If you’re really visual, get some coloured pens or pencils, otherwise, a single pen or pencil will be fine.

  1. Draw a large circle, covering most of the page.
  2. Now, divide it up into the number of items on your list – so if you have 8 items, you need to divide it into 8 sections. The measurements don’t have to be exact (unless you want them to be!). This is your “life wheel”
  3. Label each section of the wheel according to the items on your list
  4. Take a moment to think about how well you feel you are doing in each area.
  5. Give each area a mark out of 10 – where 10 is great and 1 is really hard work and/or not going well at all.
  6. Now draw a line in the relevant section of the while, corresponding to the score you gave.
    In the downloadable template, each dotted line is worth 2 points – so if you scored something a 9, you’ll place a line between the outside circle, and the first dotted line (like the pink and red sections in the example below).
  7. Shade the section of the wheel up to the line you have drawn.
  8. Do the same for each life area, until all sections of your wheel are filled in. (This is where you can get really creative with colours if that’s your thing!)
A coloured-in life area wheel, where each section hse been coloured in, corresponding to ratings between 4 and 10.
Example: a completed life area wheel

Now, analyse your results

Once you have completed this exercise, you’ll (literally) have a clear picture of your areas that are going well, and areas that could use a little help. The results could surprise you. You might only have one area that scores low, or you could have quite a few.

See if there is a pattern to the areas that you scored high and low. It might be that you’re doing well with social aspects (family, friends, community), but you’re low on development (learning, personal/spiritual development). If you find a pattern, you can use this when you develop your action plan. You might find that one action can help several areas at once.

And even if you don’t see a pattern, that’s OK – you’ll still be able to create a great self-care plan.

It’s time to take action!

Now you can see at a glance which areas of your life are going really well, and which could use some love. Jump over to my post on self-care to find out how to create and implement an action plan to boost your self-care and help you make your life more awesome!