Mountain Stream Coaching in words with M stylized as mountains and S stylized as stream
Woman having eye exam with an ophthalmoscope
Photo Credit: Ksenia Chernaya on Pexels

The previous article in this series covered life design assessment stage Part-1, “Who am I?” Here in Part-2, we explore the question “How am I doing?” The next article, Part-3, covers the remaining third, Work Assessment.

The “How am I doing?” assessment explores the following:

  • Life Area Appraisal
  • Well-Being and Happiness Appraisal
  • Time, Energy, Attention, and Emotions Audit
  • Interests, Knowledge, and Skills Inventory

Life Area Appraisal

How satisfied are you with each area of your life?

There are many ways to categorize the areas of your life. I use the following breakdown. Prompted by LifeHack Full Life Assessment results, I group the areas by ‘Outer’ and ‘Inner’ worlds:

Outer World

  • Financial Health
  • Work
  • Service (giving back, impact)
  • Environment (physical surroundings) and Possessions
  • Family (partner, kids, parents, etc.)
  • Social Ties (friends, colleagues, connections, etc.)
  • Fun and Leisure

 

Inner World

  • Physical Health
  • Mental (Emotional) Health
  • Spiritual Health
  • Intellectual, Learning, and Growth

This taxonomy incorporates and extends the SPIRE and PIES happiness and well-being models:

  • The SPIRE model is from Tal Ben-Shahar. The letters stand for Spiritual, Physical, Intellectual, Relational, and Emotional well-being. In the above, I split Relational into two categories, ‘Family’ and ‘Social Ties.’
  • The PIES model is sometimes credited to Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. The letters stand for Physical, Intellectual, Emotional, and Spiritual. There is also a child development variation that substitutes Social for Spiritual.

For the Life Area Appraisal, rate each area on a scale of 1-to-10, answering “How satisfied are you in this area of your life?”

After rating each area, dig deeper by answering the following questions:

  • How much attention is each area receiving? (1-to-10)
  • How much attention should each area be receiving? (1-to-10)
  • What is going well in each area? Why? Where do you feel most fulfilled?
  • What is not going well in each area? Why? Where is there stress or struggle?
  • What is your vision for each area?
  • What would you like to do, or have, more of in each area? What would you like to start?
  • What would you like to do, or have, less of in each area? What would you like to stop?
  • Are there any other changes you would like to make in each area?
  • What are SMART Goals for the desired changes?
  • What obstacles are there to having more of what your heart desires in each area?
  • Were there any surprises or new insights coming out of the questioning above?
  • What change is most important across all the areas?
  • What is one small step you could take now to begin to make the most important change?

Download a Microsoft Excel template for the above.

Deeper yet:

  • Life Design Assessment Part-3 will cover additional appraisal for ‘Work.’
  • There are additional questions related to ‘Relationships’ (‘Family’ and ‘Social Ties’) under the PERMA subheading below.
  • There are additional questions related to ‘Intellectual, Learning, and Growth’ in the ‘Interests, Knowledge, and Skills’ section below.

Often, authors structure this Life Area Appraisal as a ‘Wheel of Life’ exercise, resulting in a diagram like the following figure.

Image Credit: iyarn.com

The Wellness Society includes several useful reminders in their Wheel of Life instructions:

Remember, your life is made up not just of things going on in the external world, but everything going on in your own internal world – mind, body and spirit.

If we allow the external world to always take priority, stress can build up, and our internal world gets neglected.

Healthy boundaries will need to be set around things that are eroding your time and energy so that what is life-affirming for you isn’t overlooked or forgotten.

The Coaching Tools Company has extensive Wheel of Life instructions and offers two free Wheel of Life templates—a blank version with colors, and a version prepopulated with categories.

Separately, The Coaching Tools Company suggests twelve Wheel of Life variations. For example, ‘The Wheel of Stress’ and ‘The Wheel of Progress’.

Another variation of life area appraisal is a role-based life system proposed by Simon Theakston. The Identity and Story section of Assessment Part-1 includes listing all the roles you fill. For each of the identified roles, ask the following questions, from Theakston:

  • Who do I want to be?
  • What results would I see if I became that person?
  • What characteristics would I need to have to achieve that?
  • How would this person behave?

The Live By Design Podcast with Kate House outlines a Self Care Audit. The audit incorporates 12 “core self-care categories” grouped by mind, body, and soul. These categories cut across the life areas listed above:

Nurturing your mind

  • Stress and Overwhelm. How would you describe your stress level? How frequently do you experience overwhelm?
  • Personal Growth. Do you lean into learning that supports your personal growth?
  • Internal Dialogue. How do you speak to yourself? What does your inner voice sound like? Would you describe it more as a critic or as a coach?
  • Mental Health. What is your state of being on a typical day?

Energizing your body

  • Hydration. Are you aware of your thirst levels throughout the day?
  • Nourishment. What are you fueling your body with? Do you eat nutrient-dense food?
  • Sleep. Are you getting enough sleep? How do you feel upon waking? Do you feel exhausted and irritable or energetic and focused?
  • Movement. How do you feel in your body? Do you feel energized or sluggish? 

Awakening your soul

  • Spirituality and Connection. Do you feel connected to your spiritual practice or to something bigger than yourself? Are you connected to a community? How would you describe your relationships?
  • Joy. Do you practice gratitude? Do you experience happiness throughout your day?
  • Intuition. Do you take time to get quiet and listen to your inner knowing through meditation, journaling, walking, or whatever resonates with you?
  • Purpose. Do you spend time doing things that are important to you? Are there specific goals that you’re working towards achieving?

The LifeHack Full Life Assessment includes a life areas assessment with scores for Priority, Satisfaction, and Strength (How strongly you perceive your ability to succeed) for each area.

Well-Being and Happiness Appraisal

Introduction

Well-being is a broad concept that incorporates many of the life areas described above. One well-being taxonomy is Physical, Mental, Social, and Spiritual well-being. Well-being is associated with a sense of purpose, fulfillment, and meaning.

Happiness is a narrower positive emotional state characterized by feelings of joy, contentment, and satisfaction. Happiness is a fleeting experience, whereas well-being takes a longer-term view.

Eudaimonic well-being or happiness is associated with self-fulfillment, virtue-oriented living, and long-term flourishing. Hedonic well-being or happiness is associated with maximizing pleasure, prioritizing enjoyable experiences, and short-term gratification (Source: Hedonic vs. Eudaimonic Wellbeing: How to Reach Happiness from positivepsychology.com.)

For research and resources related to well-being and happiness see:

  • Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The center’s mission is “to cultivate well-being and relieve suffering through a scientific understanding of the mind.”
  • Center for the Advancement of Well-Being at George Mason University. The center’s “senior scholars and scientists are engaged in research that deepens our understanding of the science of well-being and evidence-based practices.”
  • Greater Good Science Center at the University of California Berkeley. The center “studies the psychology, sociology, and neuroscience of well-being and teaches skills that foster a thriving, resilient, and compassionate society.”
  • Happiness Project based in Colorado, “which is building the world’s largest free happiness resource platform.”
  • Happiness Research Institute in Denmark is “an independent think tank exploring why some societies are happier than others.”
  • Wellbeing Research Centre at the University of Oxford “is an interdisciplinary research group focused on the empirical study of wellbeing.”

PERMA

Similar to the Life Area Appraisal above, the PERMA model from Positive Psychology can be used for an appraisal of overall well-being. The components in the model are Positive Emotions, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, and Accomplishment.

Same as for the Life Areas, rate each component (area) on a scale of 1-to-10, answering “How satisfied are you in this area of your life?”

Some additional questions to explore each component more deeply:

Positive Emotions

  • What activities or experiences bring you the most joy and happiness? When do you feel the most loved? How could you increase the frequency of these positive emotion experiences?
  • How often do you engage in activities that make you genuinely smile or laugh? How could you increase the frequency of these activities?
  • Are there any negative emotions or thought patterns that consistently impact your mood? How could you reduce the frequency of these occurring?

Engagement

  • What are you most passionate about? How often are you fueled by this passion? How could you increase the amount of passion in your life? How could you more often and more deeply express your passion?
  • What activities or hobbies make you lose track of time? When do you feel most “in the zone” or completely absorbed in an activity, i.e. in a flow state? How could you increase the amount of time you are in flow?
  • How often do you have a chance to fully use your strengths identified in Assessment Part-1? How could you more often and more strongly use your strengths without negative consequences?

Relationships

This subsection builds on ‘Family’ and ‘Social Ties’ above and the Relationships section in Assessment Part-1.

  • If you were in crisis, do you have someone to call for whatever support you need? If not, who could become that support? What actions are necessary to nurture that relationship?
  • Are you surrounded by people committed to your success and well-being? Do you feel respected and valued? What relationships do you need to either extract from or commit to in order to optimize this group of supporters?
  • Do you have people in your network who listen to you without judgment and without giving unsolicited advice? This could be a coach.
  • Do you have access to people who know more than you do about the subjects you most care about? How strong is your expert network? How could you increase the value of your expert network? Also see the ‘Interests, Knowledge, and Skills’ section below.
  • Does your people network constructively challenge you to be your best? Do you have people in your life that will hold you accountable for achieving your commitments? How could you increase this element of your social network?
  • Who do you feel closest to? Are there people you would like to become closer to? How could you act on that desire?
  • Are you satisfied with the number and depth of friendships in your life? How could you increase friendships or depth of friendship?
  • Are there any unresolved conflicts or strained relationships that you need to address to improve your overall well-being?

Also see: 

Meaning

  • What gives your life a sense of purpose and meaning? How could you create more purpose and meaning in your life?
  • Are your actions aligned with your core values identified in Assessment Part-1? Where are you most misaligned with your values? What actions would bring you into alignment?
  • How often do you feel a sense of being part of something bigger than yourself? How could you increase the frequency and depth of experiencing this feeling?

Accomplishment

  • What achievements or milestones are you most proud of in your life so far?
  • Can you recall a specific accomplishment where you felt exceptionally skilled or competent?
  • Are there any obstacles or limiting beliefs that have held you back from pursuing your goals? How could you overcome obstacles or reframe limiting beliefs? This will be further developed with Life Design Stage 7, Review.

Good Life Project Good Life Buckets

The Good Life Project has a Good Life Bucket Quiz that assesses how full or empty your Good Life Buckets are. The three Good Life Buckets are VitalityConnection, and Contribution. How you are doing in these buckets “likely lines up pretty well with how you’re feeling.” “Your levels will help you understand where to begin to focus in order to start filling your buckets…and your life.”

Overall Well-Being Scales

See Measures Wellbeing for many more well-being assessments and further background.

Happiness Scales

The following concepts influence overall well-being either negatively (Stress and Burnout) or positively (Flow and Mindfulness).

Stress

Burnout

Flow and Mindfulness

The following resources are from positivepsychology.com:

Time, Energy, Attention, and Emotions Audit

Part of knowing how you are doing is (1) knowing how you use your time, energy, and attention (TEA), and (2) being aware of your emotions.

Audits in these areas are helpful for answering questions like:

  • Is your use of time aligned with your values and priorities? What are your time wasters? What tactics could you use to reduce time wasted?
  • What activities give you energy? What activities drain your energy? How could you create more energy throughout your day?
  • When is your peak energy time of day? How could you rearrange your schedule such that your most important or most difficult tasks are done during peak energy periods?
  • What activities hold your attention? What activities are prone to distractions? What tactics could you use to maximize your focus when needed?
  • What activities tend to create positive emotions for you? What activities tend to create negative emotions? What tactics could you use to avoid or mitigate negative emotions?

Audit Mechanics

There are many apps available to track time, energy, attention (focus), or emotions (mood). In a future article, I might rigorously review these apps. For now, a simple list of examples for each category:

Time Tracking Apps

Energy Tracking Apps

Attention (Focus) Tracking Apps I did not find apps dedicated to recording attention and focus levels. Closest is the following:

  • Quantified Mind. Discover your peak mental performance routine. No more bad-brain days!

There are many other apps that block distractions and/or provide Pomodoro and other timers. For example, FocusFocus BearForestFreedom, and StayFocused.

Emotions and Mood Tracking Apps 

My favorite is How We Feel, which is completely free, has a pleasant user interface, and includes instructional content. “The How We Feel Project is a nonprofit organization created by scientists, designers, engineers, and therapists to help everyone better understand their own emotions.”

Others:

A related product category, not researched here, is food intake tracking to enable correlation insight between diet and energy, attention, and emotion.

Having yet to find one app that does it all (Time, Energy, Attention, and Emotion) in the way I envision, I created a simple Microsoft Excel spreadsheet that records:

  • Date
  • Day of week
  • Start time (time of day)
  • Task or activity description
  • Task or activity life area category (per the list above)
  • Task or activity subcategory and priority within subcategories
  • Task or activity duration (minutes)
  • Subjective energy level (Pumped, High, Medium, Low)
  • Subjective attention level (Flow, Focused, Neutral, Distracted, Major Distraction)
  • Emotion(s) (free form)

Interests, Knowledge, and Skills Inventory

The final part of “How am I doing?” is an inventory of current interests, knowledge, and skills. This inventory seeds discovering your Purpose and Mission in Life Design Process Stage Four and setting learning goals in Stage Five.

The interest portion of this inventory builds on the PERMA questions for Engagement, Meaning, and Achievement. What, if any, additional topics do you have a strong interest in?—ones worth investing in even though they may not rise to the level of passion.

  • What are the things you enjoy doing the most?
  • What are your favorite books, TV shows, blogs, podcasts, social media accounts, etc?
  • If money were no object and you could pursue any interest or hobby, what would it be?
  • What topics or subjects do you enjoy learning about in your free time?
  • What steps or actions can you take in the next month to explore or develop your interests further?

The knowledge and skills portion of this inventory builds on the strengths assessment in Assessment Part-1.

  • What are your natural talents and abilities?—anything additional from your strengths assessment?
  • What knowledge or skills have you acquired through formal education or training?
  • What skills have you developed through informal education, your work, or personal experiences?
  • What are some talents or skills that others have acknowledged or praised you for?
  • What are some ways you can use your knowledge and skills to pursue your interests?
  • Where are there knowledge or skill gaps that are holding you back from achieving everything you aspire to achieve within your strong interest and passion areas? What people, communities, education or training, and resources can you leverage to close these gaps? Where and how can you gain practical experience?
  • Are you comfortable using the new AI Chat tools (for example, BingChatGPTGoogle Bard, and Perplexity)? If not, what is your plan to become comfortable?

Over To You

Have you ever done a systematic life appraisal as covered in this article? If yes, how did that go? What, if any, life changes were ignited by the appraisal(s)? In the realm of “How am I doing?”, have you explored other aspects of your life not covered in this article? If so, what were they?

Note: The book links are Amazon affiliate links that pay a small commission to me upon purchase, at no cost to you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *