Saturday, November 29, 2014

Balance Wheel

Several years ago, I was feeling particularly stretched thin between working full time, being a single parent, taking care of a parent in declining health, looking after the house and garden, being active in my daughter's school and my temple, etc., etc., etc.  I felt my life was unbalanced, that I was spending enormous amounts of time and energy on certain aspects while neglecting other areas.  During this time, I was fortunate enough to find out about something called a balance wheel. 

The concept is very simple.  Draw a circle and divide it into 10 or 12 segments.  Each segment represents an area of  your life:  Spirituality, Environment, Spouse/Significant Other, Children/Family, Friends/Community, Career, Finances, Health/Self Care, Education/Self Improvement, Time Management, Fun/Hobbies/Leisure, Goals, etc. 

Then, evaluate each one on a scale of 1 to 10 or low-medium-high to determine how satisfied you are with each area.  The center of the circle is the worst point, the outer rim of the circle represents the best.  The closer you are to the outside rim, the more satisfied and happier you are with how things are.  The closer you are to the center of the circle, the less satisfied you are with how things are.

The purpose of this exercise is that  when the wheel has been completed, you can see which segments or spokes are low  A fuller wheel will roll along more smoothly.  A wheel with many dips or dents will be wobbly.  The goal is to improve those areas that are not doing as well as you'd like.

When I first drew my balance wheel, it was very wobbly, indeed!  I used a scale of 1-10, with 1 being worst and 10 being best.  So many of my segments were 3 or 4; a few were 5 or 6 and only one or two were 8 and above.  Definitely out of balance.  Over the years, however, I've made great improvements.

One of my problems was, I expected too much, given the demands on my time.  I learned to scale back.  Interaction with friends didn't have to mean having them over to dinner (although that would be nice); it could mean a phone call or an email.   Being an active member in the temple didn't have to mean volunteering my time at each and every function; it could be supporting the activities by donating goods or making a monetary contribution.  Leisure/fun didn't have to mean a whole afternoon of reading or knitting; it could be 30 minutes in the car while waiting for daughter during piano or dance classes.

I made myself a new balance wheel every month, and evaluated it almost daily at the very beginning, then weekly, then 3 times a month - at the beginning, middle and the end.  These days, I tend to evaluate it twice a month, at the middle and at the end, with the end of the month evaluation becoming the basis for the next month's starting balance.   I used to do this exercise on the organizing forum I'd been a member of for almost 10 years; since that forum is closing, I will continue with my balance wheel evaluations here, on my blog. 

So, having said all that, here is my month-end balance for November:

Spirituality: 10; Well plumped; attended the monthly prayer meeting last weekend; planning for my December prayer gathering.

Environment: 7; Needs plumping! Will continue with decluttering and cleaning.

DD: 10; Nicely plumped! She's home for Thanksgiving!

Family: 9;  Also well plumped. Spoke with one aunt on the phone, on Thanksgiving day; received an e-card from a cousin; had Thanksgiving dinner with another aunt, several cousins, and their families.

Friends: 9; Again, well plumped, since I celebrated Thanksgiving with some friends and spoke on the phone with others.

Career: 9; Had been rather stressful, but I've taken a week off over the Thanksgiving holidays and I've received a very nice email from my supervisor telling me how much she appreciates my work and telling me not to get stressed, she's never had any issues with my work, productivity, etc. Nicely plumped, I'm thinking.

Finances: 8; It's being maintained; continuing to budget and managing to meet expenses.

Health: 5; Definitely a spoke that needs improvement. I need to have a healthier life style and take better care of myself.

Leisure/Crafts/Hobbies: 7; Managing to keep it balanced; if I take computer time as "leisure", then, well plumped! Also, started a new sewing project and I'm almost finished reading one of my library books and there's another waiting to be read.

Time Management: 6; I am doing OK, but could improve this spoke.

And there we have it! My end of November Balance Wheel.

Anyone else tried something similar?  How balanced would you say your life is?  

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