Setting goals and becoming clear on your priorities should not be a once-per-year activity (i.e. a scramble to set resolutions on New Year’s Eve). While you can define priorities monthly or even weekly, they aren’t all that effective unless you understand how they relate to your life as a whole. To get a holistic view of your priorities like this you must first understand the state of various aspects of your life. We created a tool to do just that.
We originally designed the Grounded Purpose System (GPS) to help high school-aged youth identify their life goals and help them think through what they want to do after graduation. While building the tool, we realized youth are not the only ones who need to ensure they’re on the right track. Adults need to check in with their priorities, too.
You can jump ahead to find the tool and how to use it here, but we want to highlight the component we think makes it effective: the six areas in your life on which to focus.
In order to make any change in your life, you must first gain awareness. If you want to lose five pounds, for example, you must first become clear on your current diet and exercise regimen, then make decisions about how to achieve your goal. Without awareness of your current state, you might struggle to identify the steps you need to take to effectively lose the desired weight.
We designed the Studio/E GPS tool to help you gain awareness, focus on, and set goals for six important areas of your life. Once you identify how healthy you believe you are in each of the components (“healthy” being subjective and ultimately defined by you), you then define where you hope to be in a future state.
Here are the six areas in your life on which to focus:
- Health & Wellness: This part concerns your physical and mental wellbeing. How is your mental health? Are you stressed? Energized? How is your physical health? Do you feel strong? Depleted?
- Financial Lifestyle: This section is all about the balance between the income you generate, the amount you save, and the amount you spend based on your desired lifestyle. When you think about your financial health, do you feel good about it?
- Growth & Development: Ongoing learning and discovery are crucial for both personal and professional success. You could achieve a high score in growth and development if you are taking classes, reading books, or joining webinars for the sake of learning, for example. If you’re not growing, you’re dying. (Harsh? Yes. True? Also yes).
- Fun & Recreation: Making space for fun is not only enjoyable, but it’s also very important when it comes to assessing your priorities. Why? Because when you’re on your death bed decades from now, you’ll want to look back on your life and be happy with the time you spent creating joy and reenergizing. Don’t skimp on this section — it is equally as important as all the rest!
- Relationships: How are your connections to those who are important to you? Consider your relationships with your significant other, family, and friends. The ones we love are often the ones we treat most poorly due to stress, busyness, or otherwise. But these are the people we’d never want to be without and who contribute the most to our wellbeing, so check-in with the state of these relationships.
- Environment: Your physical surroundings should be a source of energy and inspiration. Given that you likely spend most of your time between home and work, they should be places of safety and comfort. Do your environments evoke these positive feelings?
You may find you are doing well in one category and not so well in another. If so, it’s okay. It’s normal. Awareness is the first step to achieving balance, so assessing the state of your life in these six areas will help you identify where your opportunities for improvement are. Then you can focus on a few specific areas and recalibrate your priorities accordingly.
Make informed choices
With awareness comes the ability to make informed choices. In the example above, awareness of your current diet and exercise regimen will help you make the informed choices of taking a yoga class three times per week instead of just one and removing sugar from your diet on weekdays instead of reducing sugar daily. These are informed choices because you took the time to level-set and understand your current state, then compared it against your preferred future state.
When using the GPS tool, you will go through each of the categories and give yourself a score of 1-10 as they currently stand. Next, you’ll identify a score you want to achieve in a future state for each zone. Finally, with two different colored writing utensils, you will go around the wheel and color in your current and desired future states, creating a visual discrepancy between where you are and where you want to go. It might look something like this:
The red in this example is the score you gave your current state and the blue is your desired future state. Notice in Growth & Development, the blue score is actually lower than the red score. There may be times when you need to reduce the score of one of these zones to make room for an increase in another.
Creating a visual like this of your current and future states of the important areas in your life helps guide you toward your real priorities — the ones which actually bring you closer to your purpose — not the bullet points clogging up your to-do lists that you mistake as priorities.
This is what we mean when we talk about getting a holistic view of your priorities as they relate to your life, and it’s an effective way to ensure you’re grounded in your purpose.
The final step in recalibrating your priorities is to make some moves. The way we suggest doing this, in conjunction with the GPS tool, is to identify three zones which you would like to focus on. Next to each of the three zones, define the best results in the future state you are aspiring to. Then, write out actions you will take to get to said future state, and finally, write down why you’re doing this.
The why component may seem fluffy. It may seem like something you don’t need to do, but it ties directly to your personal why — your purpose or your desire. What is it you ultimately want to achieve in this one life you get to live? Each of the zones you are focusing on improving (your growth zones) should be bringing you closer to this. The why of each of these is what will fuel you when you inevitably need some ambition.
When setting new priorities and revisiting old ones, make sure you are being true to yourself and what you believe. While all six of the categories listed above should be in harmony with one another, it’s important to ensure they are all contributing to your purpose.
We can’t guarantee that using this tool will connect you with your purpose. What we can do, however, is promise that checking in with your priorities and recalibrating as necessary will bring you closer and closer to the life you want to live when, decades from now, you are on your deathbed and reflecting on your wonderful, abundant life.
Are you ready to get grounded in your purpose? Download the Studio/E GPS tool here.