This is a process that will help you lean into each area of your life and decide for yourself whether (or in what respects) it is nourishing or draining you. As with any tool, please take what serves you and modify or adapt as you wish.
The goal is to be able to take the information and knowing you get from charting out and feeling into each area of your life so you can bring your life further into balance and alignment with your values.
Remember to approach this with beginner’s mind. Your monkey mind / ego will want to take over this work, and you can give your left brain a wide berth for the first few steps of this process, but once you start the work of “leaning in,” you will want your intuition to lead.
As a pre-exercise, write down or refer to your list of values. E.g.,
Begin in earnest by listing down each major area of your life. I will work with a hypothetical example that I will try to keep simple. (These are just the most generic categories I could think of. Make up your own as you see fit.)
Start filling in details for any of the above categories.
groups / networks
If you are a visual person, try turning this list into a pie chart so you can see how much time and energy you devote to each of these areas of your life. Remember, there are 168 hours in a week.
E.g., If you are working a f/t 40 hours a week (24%), plus you find about 2 hours a week where you work on your side hustle (1%), then represent “Work” as 25% of your pie.
Some categories will be more easily calculated than others. E.g., you can tabulate the number of hours you spend biking / in yoga / preparing food.
Other categories, however, might be more difficult, e.g., your family time. You are not just calculating “face time,” but also the time and energy that you spend thinking about your family.
The same holds for even the more straightforward categories such as work: Are you taking work home, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally? Even if you schedule just one hour a week to work on your side gig, do you find yourself thinking about it all the time? If so, adjust your percentage.
Once you’re done drafting an initial chart of your life, just look at it and assess if you are happy with the balance. Are you living in alignment with your values?
This is not the time to go into problem-solving mode. You are just compassionately observing. Is there anything that surprises you? Do you wish you could devote more to one thing and expend less energy on another? As you reflect, stay in beginner’s mind and keep your critical mind at bay. You don’t want to argue with yourself or run down the road of justifications and excuses.
**Is there anything that seems it should be at the center of your pie chart? For me I found that my mindfulness practice underpinned each aspect of my life, so it became my “inner circle.”
Return to your list. Can you fill in even more details now that you’ve thought this through? [E.g., family relationships take up a lot of energy—it doesn’t matter if it’s in a “good” / “bad” way?] Adjust your chart if necessary.
sister that I talk to daily
challenging relationship with mother
groups / networks
What isn’t represented in this list, but takes up some of your head/heart space? This is where you write down your future goals and pipe dreams. You may or may not need to create new categories for this step. And depending on how much time and energy you devote to these items, you may have to readjust your pie chart to incorporate them. Again, any observations and reflections are done in beginner’s mind.
novel I’ve been wanting to write
should I go to grad school?
Return to your full list now and begin to lean energetically into each line item. Pay attention to what is going on in your body on every aspect of your being: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual. You are trying to get a feel of the energy of the situation. Here is where we start to incorporate some of the intuitive skills we’ve been practicing. Stay in beginner’s mind.
Is this a YES or a NO from your body? (I.e., Is this nourishing or draining me?)
Go deeper into your initial answer. How do I know this is a YES / NO? (How do you feel? Where do you feel it? What associations, memories, images, sensations, words, etc. come up when you lean into this?)
Is it the right time for this? (E.g., Even though this job / person, etc. was great and served a purpose, has this situation run its course? Is it the right time to make this move I’ve been wanting to make?)
I would argue that most situations are simpler than our left brains make them out to be, but in a genuinely mixed situation (i.e., your body is giving you mixed signals or a MAYBE), ask yourself: What about this is this nourishing me? What about this is this draining me?
For whatever is draining you ask: How can I turn this into a more nourishing situation? You may need to change your perspective and / or change the situation (e.g., look for another job, end a relationship).
Planning and strategy:
This is where your left brain is best re-engaged. What needs cutting from your life? What needs feeding? How might you go about this creatively and fearlessly? Keep checking in with your list of values and whatever messages your body is sending you. Good luck!
It is extremely important to stay connected to your intuition during this process, so if the questions of a more reflective nature (i.e., not YES / NO) are triggering your critical mind, try asking these questions in meditation—perhaps even with the support of your ancestors!
It’s a challenge describing this process linearly, but if any of you are inspired to use or adapt it, please share your comments below!