How To Prepare For Your Best Year Yet - Part One

01/15/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated Mar 17, 2015

Two weeks ago, we asked if you were settling for weevily peanuts instead of going for the banquet table of life? Last week, we introduced the Wheel of Life, as a way of evaluating where you are in terms of preparing your own banquet.

Building on these two ideas, we will now offer the first in a three part series offering a step by step way to turn 2009 into your best year yet.

As a reminder, here's the wheel again and the basic instructions on how to fill it out:


Feel free to re-label any of the dimensions to better suit your personal preferences. I have simply taken the liberty of providing some of the more common ones I see in my coaching work.

The first step is to place a dot representing your current level of satisfaction on each line somewhere between zero (the center) and 100 (the outer edge of the circle) for each of the eight elements. Consider your present experience of health, for example. If you were completely satisfied with your health, then you would place the dot all the way out at the edge of the circle; if you were only 50% satisfied, then you would place the dot on the Health line about halfway between the center of the circle and the outer edge.

Once you get all eight dots in place and connect them, you are likely to wind up with a somewhat misshapen wheel. If your wheel is misshapen, it may provide some insights into areas where you need to pay more attention in order to create increased satisfaction and balance in your life.

If would like to experience greater balance and fulfillment in your life, you first need to take stock of what you have been doing to generate your current level of satisfaction or dissatisfaction in each of the eight elements. Once you have determined what you have been doing and how well it works for you, you will then be able to generate a new set of ideas and actions that will lead to even greater levels of satisfaction in the coming year.

STEP ONE: To start with, take out eight sheets of paper or open eight separate pages in your word processor. Label one page for each of the eight elements you have chosen for your wheel. Divide each page into three columns. Label column one, "What I like about this area of my life." Label the second column, "What I find dissatisfying about this area of my life." Label the third column, "Ideas or actions that might create improvement in this area of my life."

Don't be surprised if some areas are more difficult than others to complete. You may not have spent much time thinking about your role in creating fulfillment in some of these areas. In fact, you may feel as though some areas are completely out of your control, especially in the current economic roller coaster.

If you do come across an area or two where you feel helpless, it might be worth reading an earlier post of mine on accountability or choice.

The important piece here is to simply write down whatever comes to mind for each element, and for each column. Write fast, think fast, and resist the temptation to get the list perfectly formed or perfectly stated. If you simply let the ideas flow for each column as fast as you can, you may find that one idea unlocks another underneath it. You may even find yourself jumping around from page to page.

The only way to do this exercise incorrectly is not to do it at all!

STEP TWO: Now that you have a rough list of ideas for each of the eight columns, go back and see what you might want to change: delete, edit, add, or otherwise improve to your heart's content. Even after you "finish" this task, you can always return to it later to make it even better.

STEP THREE: Now review the wheel again along with the ideas you have just written. While it may be true that you would like to experience improvement in all eight areas, let's start by considering which of these would make the most difference if they were to improve over the next year. You may have two or three key areas where improvement would be extremely beneficial; for the moment, try limiting yourself to no more than three.

STEP FOUR: Imagine that it is December 14th, 2009 and you are looking back on the progress you have made in these 2-3 key areas. How would your life be different? If you made a difference in your health for example, would that also have an impact on your family? Or job? If you paid more attention to your personal and spiritual growth, what impact would that have in other areas of your life?

We are just starting, so don't be too quick to decide if this is making sense or not. Next week, we will take you deeper into the process, and will begin translating imagined improvement into practical steps you can take to bring the imagination into reality.

I'd love to hear from you. Please do leave a comment here or drop me an email at Russell (at)


If you want more information on how you can apply this kind of reframing to your life and to your job, about a few simple steps that may wind up transforming your life, please download a free chapter from my book, Workarounds That Work. You'll be glad you did.

Russell Bishop is an educational psychologist, author, executive coach and management consultant based in Santa Barbara, Calif. You can learn more about my work by visiting my website at You can contact me by e-mail at Russell (at)