Parent life can get pretty crazy in those first few weeks and months. Here’s a solution that gets the crazy under control.
The Wheel of Your Life
The Wheel of Life maybe a resource you’ve used in the past, if not, this is the first step in having that conversation with yourself. It’s all about getting the internal thoughts and feelings in your head and out on paper. There is no need to follow this structure religiously. Feel free to adapt it. If you read through the instructions you’ll notice the key elements that I’m asking you to consider.
As I mentioned, you may be already familiar with this graphic. If this image doesn’t work for you, not a problem. How you go about this activity is far less important than the value of activating that part of your brain that stores this information. More than anything else the exercise is for you to get real about what’s important to you and to get SPECIFIC about what you need to see happen in your life.
So shield some time in your day, on your commute, at lunch or in the evening and tune into what those headings will be for you. It doesn’t have to be perfect and can be completed in a couple of sittings. You can always add to it later. So start now to have this vital conversation with yourself.
Get Clear on What’s Important to You
Let’s start by writing down the parts that make up your life that are the most important to you. Here are some suggestions if you need to get the brain in gear.
Physical health e.g.: exercise, going to the gym, running
Children: Spending time with their them and their activities
Career goals: how close or far away am I from my career goals?
Personal relationships: either with your partner or friends
Work relationships: How well cultivated is your professional network?
Personal Time: How’s your ‘you’ time to switch off and recharge
Family: Are you able to spend time together?
Finances: Are these where you’d like them to be?
Once you have these headings, sketch out the wheel either on paper or download and use the pdf here. Divide it up into as many segments as you need like a sliced pizza – it doesn’t have to perfectly even. Then label each segment with one of your headings. One heading per segment it may look something like this:
These are the key elements that are important to you in your life.
Now that you should have your labeled segments, it’s time to get real and clear about how well you are currently achieving them. To do this, using a scale of 0 to 10, or 0% to 100%, where the 0 is at the centre of the wheel and extends out to your 10 or 100% at the outer rim of the wheel, begin to evaluate what score you’d currently give each label.
Perhaps you can only mark Physical Health at 5 or 50%. Or career at a 3 or 30%.
Just draw a line across the segment based roughly on your rating.
If you are able to, begin to shade in those segments that you’ve marked. Perhaps it looks something like this:
Now ask yourself. If this were a wheel, how well would it travel? Would it be a bumpy ride? What if you were going uphill with this wheel? Or downhill? What kind of experience would you be having if you were the passenger in a car that had wheels like this?
The outcome I would like you to focus on is what do you need to do to make this a smoother ride? What areas need the most attention so that you can achieve a greater work/family balance which sees you happier, more present and engaged as a parent and with a clearer sense of the where you are going?
The Real Differentiator is Action
It may well be that this exercise is enough to get you not only thinking about where you want things to be better, but also on the ways you can go about doing it. Perhaps you may notice some really quick wins that appear as you write out the labels. Great! If they are things you can do in less than 10 minutes, then act on them now.
If they require longer, start to recognise what needs to happen for those scores to get them where you want them to be. And begin to take action towards these. Set up a reminder of every two weeks to review your wheel and make sure you are on course to getting that wheel moving smoother and your hands back around the steering wheel.