Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Finding A Better Way - My Wheel of Life

I'm currently watching a message series, A Better Way by Craig Groeschel. I watched the first part yesterday and the second today. I had planned to finish it this week, but today he suggested that listeners be open to praying a specific prayer for seven days, and since I'm a "rule follower", LOL, I guess I'll have to find something else in the mean time. 

The blurb on the website promoting the series says "Sometimes it feels like nothing is working. We can do all the right things and check all the boxes, but life seems to stay the same. How can we find the life we're longing for? Together, let’s discover A Better Way." And while I wouldn't say that I feel like NOTHING in my life is working or even staying the same, necessarily, there are a few areas of my life where I suppose I've felt stuck for a number of years. What drew me to the series was a clip that was featured in his Best of 2021, which highlighted four series from the past year and included A Better Way.

As I said, while I don't completely relate to the blurb, it was one line that he said in the clip that originally peaked my interest.

"What if the greatest enemy to the life you want, is the life you're living?"

To be honest, that kind of hit me where it hurts, and here I was thinking I was doing ok. I don't know if you're like me, but I remember when I was little that I had this idea that a day would arrive when I was "all grown up", which I think in my mind meant that I would know all that there was to know and I suppose reach a state of perfection. It's almost laughable to me now how assured I was way back then of that possibility. And being an INFJ (Highly creative and artistic), and an Enneagram 5 (Type Five's are "The Investigator" because, more than any other type, Fives want to find out why things are the way they are.), I'm honestly not sure how I EVER expected to reach the end of myself! LOL!

So last night, after contemplating what I had learned from the sermon, I decided to utilize some of those resources that I mentioned in this post, that I have linked in my right side bar, "Resources I Have Found Useful". I decided to begin with the Wheel of Life. I find it a useful tool for gauging how satisfied I am with various areas of my life and comparing it with previous years.

The wheel allows you to grade yourself in eight areas on a scale of 1-10, 1 being extremely dissatisfied, and 10 being very satisfied. So I thought I'd just be transparent here with you today and share my thoughts and how I rated myself, and then expand on that by explaining how this relates to the sermon.

So let's just jump in . . .

Career - For most of my life I've been a stay at home/homeschooling mom. The only exception to that was when I worked in day care after high school through my early twenties, and then again for about a year in my thirties. Following my divorce from my first husband, I went to work as a seasonal cashier for Barnes & Noble. That job lasted for a decade with several promotions eventually leading to my roll as a Community Relations Manager, which aside from being a stay at home, was my favorite job! But for the past 20+ years and since moving to Virginia, I have been at home, which while perhaps not a "career", is definitely a job. Writing is really the only other venture that would even come close to being a career, and I deem it more a hobby than anything else. That being said, since I LOVE being a home keeper, I rated my satisfaction at an 8 out of a possible 10, because there is always room for improvement!

*Family & Friends - In this area I rated my satisfaction once again at 8. Because while I am very happy in all of my relationships, being an introvert, and by that I mean the "poster child for introverts", its an area that I always feel I could do better in. For one, I'm not the most affectionate person, or even thoughtful, I suppose. I'm a weird mix. In my mind I express my love by keeping our home clean, organized and pretty, but deep down I know that I would do that anyway, even if it was just me because I am truly the one who loves and want a clean and organized home. So, I'm not really sure that translates? I know that especially at Christmas and Birthdays that my family appreciates my efforts, but day to day? I'm just not sure that mopping the floor in the family room and fluffing the pillows speaks quite as loudly as perhaps a big wet kiss or a hug would. So, 8 it is and maybe that was even patting my back a little!

*Significant Other / Romance - Again, an 8, and as an explanation I could really just say, "see paragraph above". My husband is definitely the more romantic one in our relationship, and the only reason I'm even giving myself an 8 is because he loves me as I am. Of course right now he's in the van and traveling and he won't be home until late spring/early summer. So between now and then I'm hoping to think through some ways that I can improve. Even if he loves me warts and all, that doesn't mean that I should grow too comfortable in that or take it for granted.

*In taking the time to write this out I now realize that I think I scored myself too highly and I would probably now rate these areas at a 6, a high 6, but not quite a 7 and definitely not an 8. Don't get me wrong, my family knows I love them, but I need to be more intentional in how I express that love and the frequency in which I express it.

Fun & Recreation - I scored this area an 8 as well, and I think that's probably accurate. I have a number of hobbies and interests, almost too many to be honest, which is one area that could do with some improvement. I think I could benefit from narrowing things down and focusing only on a few things at a time rather than trying to do it all. Social media has not always been my friend when it comes to fun and recreation, which for me is my hobbies. I see something new and immediately want to do it. I can't tell you the amount of money I've spent because I saw this neat idea on Pinterest and just HAD to try it. And I'm even more ashamed to admit how many times I spent the money on the supplies and then never even got back to it, which we'll cover here in a minute. But, I think 8 is still an accurate reflection of my satisfaction, with the improvement being narrowing my interests and perhaps focusing on new things in each season. I'll have to give it some thought.

Health - In this area I gave myself a 6 and it could definitely do with some improvement. There was a time when I was doing really well, exercising regularly, watching my diet. But when my health took a hit around this time last year, while I did recover from the initial problem, I used that as an excuse for falling out of habit with some diet restrictions and more specifically, exercise. I've been telling myself since last spring, so almost a year now, that as soon as it got warmer I was going to start walking again. That hasn't happened. Then before I knew it, it was autumn again, which is always when I struggle the most because of all the holidays and my birthday, and then it was Christmas, and now there's been snow on the ground since January 3 . . . you get the picture. It's not even that I'm having any noticeable health problems, but I know that if I don't make some changes soon, I probably will.

Money - this is the area I rated myself the lowest, with a 4. I am a spender, and money has ALWAYS been a problem for me, literally all of my life. I remember when I was little my mother used to say that "money burned a hole in my pocket". I got an allowance after school every Friday which was usually spent and gone before sunset that same day. Saving was never something I was good at. Thankfully I'm married to a saver, but I could still stand a LOT of improvement in this area.  One of the areas that I am trying to do better in is not wasting food. I love to cook, but I struggle with portions, meaning I still cook like I have a house full of kids and right now it's just myself and my daughter. And while I do freeze leftovers, I am also not that good at making sure they make it back into the meal rotation so that even they often go to waste. This is something I've been specifically focusing on since January, and while I do see some improvement, I'm definitely not where I want to be yet. Not wasting food=not wasting money, and that's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to developing better $$$ habits.

Personal Growth - I scored this level at an 8, and I am happy with that assessment. I've grown in a number of areas over the past year, especially spiritually and emotionally. I have struggled a bit with depression off and on, but I've been encouraged by my understanding of why I was feeling down and my ability to map out a plan to improve on it. Now if I can just apply that to my health and finances!

Physical Environment - And finally, I scored this area an 8 as well, though honestly it could have even been a 9 and the highest score.  I take a lot of pride in our home and in making things warm and cozy. I am tired of moving, and we'll be moving again once Bill is back. But I do like the excitement of setting up home in a new space and deciding which pieces look best were and adding all the little finishing touches. I settled on a style of decorating about ten years ago, and since I'm not swayed by trends, I've acquired a nice collection of things that all look lovely and work well together, at least, I think they do, and I don't have any plans to change that. I would rather add small touches here and there to change things up a bit than redecorate entirely. I like our little "prim apartment", and I'm sure I'll like the next place, too. 

So there you have it. It's been interesting, writing this out, to have an opportunity to rethink a few of the categories and realize that I need to make some adjustments.

One thing that isn't covered, is satisfaction with how I spend my time. I suppose the closest thing would be Fun and Recreation, but even that isn't really an accurate assessment. Time, or what always seems to be a lack of it, is actually one of the things that I find frustrating, and part of the reason for that is something I've already mentioned. I plan my days full to the brim, most days anyway, because there is just so much that I need and want to accomplish. But at the end of the day there always seems to be something that didn't get done, or I forgot about something. Most of it isn't even all that important, really. But as an example, I signed up for an online seminar last week and then got so involved in other things that I completely forgot about it and I was really rather disappointed. Is it earth shattering that I didn't learn how to do one-more-thing? No! Maybe its even better that I didn't. But it was something I was looking forward to and I allowed other things that were less important to me to rob me of the experience. And this is just one example. This is not the first time this has happened.

In the sermon series, A Better Way, this is addressed specifically;

"If you find yourself having the thought, "There's just never enough time. . . the truth is, you have time for what you choose to have time for. The solution is not more time, the solution is making time for more of what matters most. The reason most of us don't have time for what matters most is because we're mindlessly spending our time involved in things that don't matter."

And guess what I'm mindlessly spending my time doing? Scrolling! Scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and as I said, making lists of things that I need to make this craft or that recipe, when the truth is I have craft projects I never finished and some that I never even started, and a pantry and freezer full of food that needs to be eaten before I try another recipe. Especially since a lot of the ingredients in the pantry and freezer are for the recipe I just had to make a month ago! Please tell me I'm not the only one? 

The life I want is simpler, less cluttered, and more specifically, with a mind towards waste, not only of the money it costs to buy the food and supplies, but the money that is wasted when so much of it goes unused or expires. I want to be a better steward, of my money, my time and my resources. Listening to this series and mapping out my wheel of life has really helped me to see just how far I truly am from that state of perfection I once dreamed of! :) Of course, I now know I'll never be perfect, but I am definitely capable of making improvements, and that is my goal. 

One thing I do need to guard against, however, is that I have a tendency when I see something wrong, or several things wrong, to want to rush to fix it all at once, which is one of the reasons why I feel I've lacked success in some aspects of my life in the past. I realize, though it will be hard, that what I need to do is start small. Pick one thing and work on that for awhile and develop some consistency before I move on to tackling the next thing. I read this on Instagram (while I was scrolling!) the other day, and I think I'm going to type it up and put it somewhere I can see it as a reminder.

Start by doing 1 push up.
Start by drinking 1 cup of water.
Start by paying toward 1 debt.
Start by reading 1 page.
Start by making 1 sale.
Start by deleting 1 old contact.
Start by walking 1 lap.
Start by attending 1 event.
Start by writing 1 paragraph.

Start today.

Repeat tomorrow.

I'm starting with 1 thing. 1 thing that matters, and eliminating 1 thing that doesn't. What's your 1 thing? Want to start with me? If you want to begin by filling in your own Wheel Of Life, click the link in the right side bar under "Resources I've Found Useful".  Next up . . . a continuation of my discussion of A Rule of Life.

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