If you’re setting your goals for 2024 and you don’t know about the Wheel of Life, it’s time to learn.
Picture a table with four legs. Now imagine one of the legs collapses.
What happens next? The table falls over, of course. It can’t stand on three legs, and it certainly won’t stand on one or two—and yet this is exactly what we expect from our lives.
Most people only prioritize one or two areas of their total well-being, and then they get discouraged when it doesn’t work. They don’t get the desired results and don’t understand why.
The explanation is simple: That’s not how it works. A table doesn’t stand on one leg, and neither do you. Your total health requires balance, and your goals do too.
I highly encourage you to use the Wheel of Life when you’re setting your goals for 2024.
The Wheel of Life includes eight different areas or buckets: career/profession, family/parenting, personal development, health/aging, personal finance, fun and enjoyment, spiritual awareness, and relationships.
Strive to set balanced goals. If you don’t know where to start or what setting balanced goals really means, that’s where the Wheel of Life comes into place.
Learn how to use the Wheel of Life to bring intention to setting your goals for 2024.
Tony Robbins famously says,
If you’re not growing, you’re dying.
Think of it like a strength training routine. If you want to build muscle, you must add more reps or weight. You need to add more resistance. You’ll hit a plateau and stop gaining muscle if you don’t. The old saying goes, “If nothing changes, nothing changes.”
Life works the same way. Are you learning new skills? Learning more about the world around you? Consider recent steps you’ve taken to uplevel important skills, like your communication and public speaking skills. Reflect on your inner landscape and how (or if) you regularly endeavor to better understand yourself.
For balanced goals, view them through the lens of personal development. Use your goals to grow.
Personal Development Goals
- Pick a skill to uplevel, like public speaking. How will you measure it (e.g. lead three meetings, speak at three conferences)? Get specific.
- Journal for 5-10 minutes every morning.
- Listen to a new educational podcast episode or TED Talk every week.
Spirituality is essential when setting your goals for 2024, but it can feel contentious. Some clients feel strongly connected to God or their version of source. Others feel uncomfortable about their spirituality or lack thereof.
The Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching’s (iPEC) Wheel of Life calls this bucket “spiritual awareness.”
Another way to phrase it is a connection, which is as individual as the person. It may be your connection to God, other people, or nature.
Don’t overcomplicate it. Anything from prayer, volunteering, reading religious or philosophical texts to petting your dog or hiking in a wooded area is spiritual if that is your intention.
Spiritual Awareness Goals
- For 10-30 minutes a week, journal about spirituality. What makes you feel closer to the world around you? What makes you feel loved? Part of a unified whole?
- Identify a spiritual practice. Commit to a minimum of 20 minutes per week. Put it on your calendar.
- Gratitude is a spiritual practice! Start a gratitude journal or mentally note 5 things that make you grateful every night before you fall asleep.
Fun and Enjoyment
On our first call, Cara told me she didn’t know how to have fun. She built her life around her work for years. She didn’t know what to do when tasked with devoting 20 – 30 minutes per night to leisure time.
“Having fun” made her feel uncomfortable and restless.
Cara isn’t alone. Many high achievers I coach experience this at the beginning of their journey. They work, work, work, and don’t know how to stop. Doing something “unproductive” feels unfamiliar and even unpleasant at first.
Do it anyway. Carve out 30 minutes for fun and enjoy it. (Doing laundry or reorganizing the closet doesn’t count.)
Here are three simple things that can help:
- Fun and enjoyment are part of the Wheel of Life. If nothing else, having fun will make you more effective at your job and relationships.
- Remember what you liked to do as a little kid. What were your favorite hobbies in college? What activities make you forget about the time these days? Try different pastimes until you find the one that clicks.
- If you’re feeling restless when you designate time to relax, take 30-60 seconds to ground yourself. Sit up tall with your hands on your lap and bring your attention to the details of your experience. Feel the contact of your hands on your lap. Do they feel warm? Tingly? Note your jeans’ rough fabric and the chill of the AC on your bare skin.
Fun and Enjoyment Goals
- Identify something you enjoyed doing as a child. Try it again. Commit to 20 minutes per week for three weeks. If it doesn’t bring you joy, try something else.
- Make a list of all the things you’ve always wanted to do. Start doing them and cross them off your list.
- Put leisure time on your calendar. Keep your appointment to have fun.
Harvard famously followed a group of men for 80 years and studied what impacted their total well-being and longevity.
“Close relationships, more than money or fame, are what keep people happy throughout their lives,” The Harvard Gazette writes.
In other words, our relationships may be the most crucial wedge of the Wheel of Life. It is also the one we tend to neglect.
While family is important, this wedge encompasses intimate and social relationships. This includes our relationships with our spouse or romantic partner as well as our relationships with our families, friends, coworkers, and the people in our community.
To nurture your relationships as a whole, work on your communication skills (this benefits romantic relationships and all our relationships) and show compassion. Small acts of kindness, guided loving kindness meditations, or heartfelt thank you notes improve relationships.
- Start your day by thanking one person in writing. Send an email or a quick text with a genuine thanks to someone in your life.
- Make a goal to improve your active listening skills. Be intentional. Resolve to listen completely the next time someone approaches you. (Listen fully. Don’t just wait for your turn to speak. Pay attention to their body language. Ask questions.)
- At the end of every month, donate to a favorite charity.
When I was in my 30s and 40s, I woke up early every morning at 4:30 am to go work out.
If I missed a single workout, I didn’t feel good. I beat myself up.
While I still know the importance of physical movement, I’ve also allowed myself to evolve—to become more flexible.
These days, I prioritize sleep. I do whatever I can to get my 7-8 hours. I fit in my workouts around that. They’re not quite as frequent as they used to be, and that’s okay.
Balanced goals in this category require flexibility and data. Check in with yourself regularly and adapt your routine and habits as needed when you’re setting your goals for 2024.
- Work on your sleep hygiene. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. If you spend most of the day working at a computer, purchase blue light-blocking glasses and use them.
- Prepare one meal per day using whole foods only. Whole foods include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, beans, fish, eggs, and shellfish.
- Move your body for 20 minutes a day. Walk, swim, bike, or play tennis.
Permission to not have it all figured out. Permission to have knowledge gaps. Permission to get help.
Most people have questions about their finances. Thinking about finances can be uncomfortable. That leads even the most well-meaning people to do a very unhelpful thing: brush it under the rug. They save their financial concerns for another day.
When that day comes, if it ever comes, they feel overwhelmed.
Do yourself a favor. Shine a light on your personal finances. Budget. Plan. If you need a break, go for a brisk walk and return to it later—schedule time to come back to it.
And know it’s okay to get help. If your finances feel too complex for any reason, work with a financial advisor or accountant. Outsourcing your taxes or financial planning can work wonders for your total well-being.
Personal Finance Goals
- Identify a question you have about your finances and answer it. Do your own research or ask a CPA.
- Review your budget.
- Pin down a system to reward yourself this year. Contribute to a savings account for a vacation or a big purchase you’ll regularly enjoy, like a new TV.
Of course, your career and profession play a significant role in setting your goals for 2024. There’s no question.
The most significant shift is to see it as one bucket or leg of the table.
Too many people act like their career is the only bucket. They’re on autopilot. They don’t even realize their work is their life.
Newsflash: You can have a fulfilling career and be physically healthy. You can have a fulfilling career and a loving family. You can have a fulfilling career and thriving relationships. You can have a fulfilling career and a spiritual awareness that makes you feel deeply connected to the world around you.
It’s about balanced goals. How do high achievers find balance? Prioritize the other buckets. Set boundaries at work. Pick a few sections on The Wheel of Life and use them while setting your goals for 2024.
Start with the two or three wedges that need the most attention.
- Ask for a raise or promotion.
- If there’s something you’d like to do more of, ask. Tell leadership you’re interested in new and challenging responsibilities.
- Set boundaries around work (e.g., answer emails on weekdays from 9-5).
I’m a Career and Leadership Development Coach. Midlife professionals seek me for clarity on their career—about switching jobs, job satisfaction, and/or updating their resume and LinkedIn profile.
So when their marriage and college student who never responds to their texts inevitably come up on our fourth call, it can feel like a shock to their system.
To me, this isn’t surprising or unusual at all.
The Wheel of Life is a tool, but all these buckets or areas of life exist whether we choose to pay attention to them or not.
Some buckets will demand your attention, like your marriage. You won’t be able to be as effective at work when your marriage feels like it’s on its last leg.
Don’t forget about family while setting your goals for 2024. The happiness and health of your family affect all other areas of your life. Dedicate time to work on your family relationships, just like you would schedule time for a meeting or workout.
- Schedule a monthly date night with your spouse.
- Call your mom once a week, even when you don’t feel like it.
- Send a quick text every few days to check in with college students and adult children.
Use these suggestions to start setting your goals for 2024, or review them now that we’re a few weeks in. I highly recommend using a framework to make them specific and measurable. The SMART framework is excellent.
Get clear on your why. What do you want out of balanced goals? Aim for things like peace and contentment, not others’ approval.
Lastly, you don’t owe anyone productivity. Your value is intrinsic. You’re worthy because you’re you, and you exist. Your worth isn’t based on external validation or, what you can do or how much you accomplish. Like a newborn baby, you’re inherently valuable.
Focusing on just one area of our lives will never make us happy. Life is complex and multilayered. Don’t spend your entire life filling one bucket. There’s so much more out there.
You deserve to feel the joy of setting balanced goals and understanding life. It is the whole puzzle, not just one or two pieces.
When the areas of the Wheel of Life come together, you design not just your dream job but also your dream life. I’d love to be your companion on this path. Schedule a call to see if it’s your next right step.