We all know that life is about more than work – it’s a no-brainer even if it sometimes takes a backseat to our career. What else is life about though and how do we know if we’re living a ‘good’ life?
Is it a feeling we get, something we’re told along the way or can we somehow objectively measure a life that is being well lived? If it’s measurable, whose criteria matter and what should be measured in the first place?
And why do we so often separate work from life? Do the same rules not apply?
These are all questions I’ve been considering as I’ve been wondering about how we evaluate ourselves in our modern world and the impact our (mis)evaluations have on our well-being.
At work, we usually have a pretty good sense of how we’re performing, even if our performance is being measured by processes that are less than objective and maybe, just maybe a little biased so as to keep us insecure and working hard to prove ourselves.
Good performance management will evaluate across a range of dimensions and will incorporate qualitative and quantitative measures. Performance criteria will be linked to department, function or organizational goals. Input will be gathered from above, below and across the organization.
Strengths will be highlighted and of course, we all know we’ll hear about our weaknesses – or ‘development opportunities’. Based on the knowledge of our shortcomings, we can get better and maybe be considered for the next rung on the ladder – a promotion and a whole new set of criteria to prove ourselves against.
Side-note: if it’s not already obvious, I believe most performance management is poorly designed and over-emphasizes what we lack (constraints) vs. what we contribute (generative).
Flaws and bias aside, I can’t help but wonder if it wouldn’t be helpful to borrow from performance management at work and apply some of that to life.
With some thought, I bet we could pretty easily come up with the core dimensions that are important for a life well lived. Here’s a shot:
- emotional health
- physical health
- job satisfaction
- relationships (partner, kids, family, friends)
- hobbies & interests
- learning, growth & development
- social / interpersonal impact or service
I came up with this list in about 5 minutes, and it reflects the dimensions that I think are important for a life well lived and pretty closely reflect my values. Yours could be different, it’s very subjective.
The simple act of defining your dimensions for a life well lived could reveal a lot – it’s a worthy exercise.
Ok, so what?
Why does all this matter?
As Plato attributed to Socrates the famous words, “The unexamined life is not worth living,” I believe that from time to time we need to reflect on our life, in its entirety and consider how we’re doing.
While we still have blood pumping through our veins, there’s time to improve those areas in our lives where maybe we’re lagging. We can look critically at where we spend our time and how that lines up with our own ‘good life’ criteria (it’s a safe bet that for most of us our jobs take up a disproportionate amount of time relative to other criteria).
As a friend says, “this (life) isn’t a dress rehearsal”.
So, if your life were a performance – what would your reviews be? If your life were a game, what would your score be?
A difficult assessment I know.
Luckily there’s a handy tool that offers a simple take on evaluating one’s quality of life (and it’s free), Michael Hyatt’s LifeScore Assessment.
Now, I’m not saying this tool is perfect but it may get you farther than if you were to start from scratch.
Like many of its assessment siblings (personality, behavior), the point is to get you thinking and reflecting and maybe something gets illuminated that you can work to improve.
And why should you care about self-improvement?
Besides the obvious answer of being the best version of yourself you can be, there are all sorts of benefits to believing you can grow and improve and in the process transform your identity into something healthier, happier and more productive.
It’s really easy to get caught up in the hectic business of life and forget to take a quiet moment or two to evaluate what really matters, how it’s showing up – or not and what to do about it.
If you’re reading this, maybe now is your chance.
Neill Beurskens is Founder of This Fearless Life and creates profound change for incredible people looking to get more out of their life and work. To explore the possibilities of a life lived fearlessly visit www.thisfearlesslifecoaching.com