Have you ever had a flat tire? You are blissfully driving along until, all of a sudden, you hear that horrible ka-flunk, ka-flunk, ka-flunk sound.
Oh no. Please don’t let it be a flat tire. Please, please, please…
Dang it! That’s it. The day is officially screwed up, and until this thing is fixed, you’re going nowhere.
Let’s apply that metaphor to life: If you’re flat in one area, it affects your whole life. Life is no longer smooth, and now you have to take care of an issue.
Maybe your eating habits are out of control. Or you have a relationship that’s on the rocks. Maybe you’re no longer happy in your job. You know there’s a hole in your life, and the fun is leaking out.
Continuing with the metaphor, here’s a trick question: Can you keep driving on a flat tire?
Can You Keep Driving on a Flat Tire?
Most car people will tell you no, you shouldn’t keep going. But actually, you can keep driving, even with a hole in your tire, with two big consequences.
First, you’re in for a rough ride. Things are going to get bumpy. And the further you go, the less comfortable it gets. Second, you are going to do damage, probably permanent damage, to your car.
It’s the same in life. If you have a big enough problem in one area, let’s say you are a stress eater and have gained 30 pounds, you are going to become less and less comfortable until you address it.
And if you ignore the problem and don’t deal with it, you can do real damage to yourself physically. Not only that, with continued inaction, you may damage other areas of your life as well.
That’s because you’re not just a physical creature. You are multi-faceted. Get stuck or bogged down in one area, and all other areas can suffer as well.
Take Inventory of Your Life with the Wellness Wheel
Let me introduce you to a concept that may be new to you. It’s called the wellness wheel. And although the idea is not original to me, my take on it can help you fix the flat areas of your life.
In my version of the wheel, you have seven distinct and important dimensions—or sectors—of life to monitor. These are the areas to manage and “pump up” to achieve optimum strength and well-being.
These seven dimensions are the mental, emotional, relational, physical, vocational, environmental, and spiritual parts of you.
That’s a mouthful, I know. Let me break it down.
- Mental: How well do your mind and your thinking serve you? Negative self-talk can be subtle and disastrous.
- Emotional: How are your feelings, coping skills, and ability to bounce back after becoming upset?
- Relational: Are the important relationships in your life healthy? Do you have a sense of belonging and connectedness (versus isolation and loneliness)?
- Physical: How are your health, weight, body image, and habits? This sector has everything to do with your ability to engage fully in your life.
- Vocational: How is your sense of achievement and purpose? How do you use your time, and how satisfied and balanced do you feel? This sector also addresses your financial security.
- Environmental: Do your personal space and material belongings contribute to a sense of security, serenity, and well-being? Is there clutter or simplicity? Do you feel safe, creative, and relaxed?
- Spiritual: This aspect includes your sense of meaning, purpose, core values, identity, faith, morals, and relationship to a Higher Power. While sometimes forgotten or ignored, this aspect must be explored and honored if you are to enjoy full maturity and harmony as a human being.
The bottom line is that each of these areas can either support you in living a well-balanced, satisfying life, or they can get you out of whack in a big way. And when one sector is out of whack, the others suffer—which means you suffer.
Go Around the Wheel, and Check for Leaks
Here’s a little pop quiz: What are your top three stressors in life? What are the things that upset you the most or suck the energy out of you?
These can be the people, places, or things you most wish you could change. They can be the habits or circumstances that feel a little—or a lot—out of control.
They can be the biggest losses you’ve endured or any life changes that still upset or grieve you.
Got your top three problems in mind? OK, now go around the wellness wheel, and identify which sectors these problems affect. Are they causing damage in more than one dimension?
If you had to say how happy or satisfied you are with each of the seven sectors, how would you score them? On a scale of one to 10, how do rate each area?
Give yourself some honest answers about how your top stressors are causing damage all around the wheel. How flat is your tire?
Here’s the real question we all need to answer: Are you living a life you love?
Are You Living a Life You Love?
Despite the problem areas, can you authentically rate your sense of mastery and well-being in every area of your life as a nine or 10?
I hope so. I hope you love the life you are living, and I mean your whole life.
But if not, here’s what I know: Even one major stressor can suck the fun and energy out of all of life.
For example, let’s say you are unhappy at work. You’re getting more and more frustrated with your boss and his unreasonable demands.
You notice this is taking a toll at home as well; it’s making you irritable with your family. The stress is causing sugar cravings, and you find yourself in the habit of snacking after dinner and staying up too late watching TV. Now you’re even more tired at work. And you’re gaining weight and feeling pretty crappy about yourself. You find yourself withdrawing socially and generally going downhill.
Your work problem is causing issues all around the wellness wheel, making it harder and harder to stay positive in any area of life.
Make Progress in One Area, and You’ll Feel It In Others
The good news is once you turn things around in one area, the others are positively impacted as well. It’s worth examining your level of peace and mastery and satisfaction in every sector.
Why? Because how you experience your life hangs in the balance. Here’s how it worked out for one of my clients.
Cheryl contacted me to address her stress eating. She had gained weight and couldn’t seem to get it off. So we began with her point of greatest frustration, which was the physical dimension on her wellness wheel.
First, we addressed her sugar cravings. By eliminating those, she enjoyed an immediate sense of better control over what she put in her mouth. The pounds started coming off.
When we looked around the wheel to see what else was going on for her, Cheryl acknowledged a big communication problem with her husband. She began to see that the relational part of her life was hugely contributing to stress eating.
When we addressed the communication problem with some practical steps to take, she and hubby slowly made important changes in their marriage.
That helped Cheryl relax at home and establish a new, healthy evening routine. She began to sleep better. When she was more rested, she found the energy to exercise.
Besides the obvious physical benefits, exercise helped balance her feel-good hormones and stabilize her emotional life. “I can feel those endorphins kicking in,” she reported after a few weeks in the gym. “I was getting so negative before, and now I’m a lot less moody.”
“I can feel those endorphins kicking in.”
Exercise also helped with the brain fog she’d experienced due to chronic stress. She was delighted that her mind cleared, and she was able to make decisions more quickly and without overthinking.
Soon, Cheryl reported greater confidence at work, crediting the mental clarity and emotional stability she was enjoying. She was functioning at a higher level, dealing with management issues more effectively and with less drama.
All of this supported her efforts at weight loss, and in about six weeks, she’d lost more than 15 pounds and reported much more joy and peace in her life.
In the weeks and months that followed, Cheryl found the energy and emotional strength to radically declutter and simplify her home, further reducing the stress in her life. Her physical environment was now serving her better.
Finally, Cheryl acknowledged that although her spiritual life was important to her, she had allowed stress to crowd out her priorities. She addressed this by returning to her church, joining a group of like-minded women who supported her spiritual journey, and spending more time in personal prayer and meditation.
Cheryl had started with her weight issue but hadn’t stopped there. She systematically used the wellness wheel to pump up the flat life she had been living.
How about you? Are you living a life you love? You can, you know.
Just like Cheryl, you can use the wellness wheel to pump up your own life. Learn more about the MasterPeace Living Wellness Wheel, and take a brief personal inventory when you click below to receive my Guide to Better Self-Management: 4 Steps to More Comfortable Self-Confidence.
I’d love to help you create the joyful, purposeful, abundant life you are meant to live.