Yesterday you created lists of activities based on if you perceive them as either nourishing or depleting. That exercise should have helped you to delve into more detail of the here and now in your life, giving you a inventory of where you stand at this moment. Importantly, you should have been able to identify themes in your life: groups and types of activities that enrich you. Today, it is time to take a helicopter perspective: the aim for today is to try and look forward, taking some the nourishing themes with you going forward – and minimising the depleting activities. It may help you to write down the themes on post-it/self-adhesive notes for this exercise.

The guiding framework for this activity is the framework I wrote about a few months back, the SWIPES framework. The framework divides life in six different “areas”, all of which are important aspects to a happy and well-balanced life.

To complete today’s activity choose a blank wall if you are working with self-adhesive notes (if you don’t have notes, use a blank sheet of paper).
Imagine the wall to be a giant spreadsheet. To start label the columns by placing notes horizontally across the wall labelled

Now write each of the themes and major activities that you feel are nourishing for you on a note. Try and allocate these in the rows underneath the topic you find they fit best. For example, if running is a major activity for you, you should locate this under physical. Going to theatres or other arts events under intellectual, meditation under spiritual etc.
You may find some activities and themes fit in more than one category: no problem, simply put two notes – but mark these with a large X.
Take a look at the result: how balanced are you and your life?

In the next step, make a list of activities or themes you’d like to do. Try to strike a balance between realistic and reasonable: avoid unobtainable or unrealistic activities (something like life a life under a palm tree), rather focus on things you could, realistically achieve (more time at the beach).
Again, write them down on notes, marking them with a big G (for goals) and allocate these  to the categories.

In the next step, look at your categories: how balanced are your current activities? How your goals and your combined and current activities and goals?

You may find your placing great emphasis on one particular aspect of your life, e.g. work or emotional. This isn’t necessarily a problem if this is your intention, however, you should ask yourself if this is really what you want. Similarly, if you have parts of your life that are completely empty, ask yourself if this is a choice of yours. If you find imbalances address them by either including potential activities in that area, or alternatively by removing one or two notes/activities and placing them on a different part of the wall, where they form a “future” list.

After you have concluded this activity, if you can leave the notes on the wall for a few days, leave them there. You may find that you want to come back to them later and make some changes. Finally copy them down on a piece of paper: keep this piece of paper somewhere handy and visible, so that it reminds you of your ideas and choices.

I hope you found this activity useful to see a “helicopter” perspective of your life at present – and goals. Remember, this isn’t a fixed life plan, but simply a planning tool to help you take stock, balance and express goals. Let me know how you get on with this activity. I hope you find it nourishing to focus on your life and how to get more out of life. If you completed the activity, why don’t you use the comment function below to share how you’re getting on.

Day 17: Using meditation and mindfulness as guides: life choices
Tagged on: