Like everyone else, you too have a propeller that keeps you going non-stop. Life moves at a quick pace and you are caught up with just doing. Doing things, to get more things and in doing, losing clarity. The 'Empty Inside' feeling might be caused by this lack of clarity. Visually this could look like a neglected propeller that is losing its effectiveness.
Imagine when you were a kid, filled with enthusiasm about so many things, a shiny propeller with so many blades and so much energy. As time passed, your ambition, external circumstance, the pressure to perform and external marketing influenced you. This shifted your focus to only doing and achieving. Like a captain who only looks at revving up his prop but forgets to look at the condition of his blades. In life, this could lead to a lack of reflection and lack of conscious focus on your drivers.
So, it is time to clean, polish and inspect your blades. Use the PoL process to
- Gain clarity on the important areas in your life
- Evaluate your level of fulfillment in each of these areas
- Set clear goals to improve your level of fulfillment
The Propeller of Life Process
Outlined below is the process to use this tool and an example of how Tom could use it.
Step 1: Reflect & Identify Your Blades
Think back to the time you felt energized and motivated. What areas of your life were you working on? Reflect on things you love doing and things you dream of. Think about times when you felt fulfilled. What do you achieve that makes you feel this way?
When Tom sat down to reflect, he realized that he has a singular focus on his career. He looks back at life and looks ahead, he lists down other areas that he is passionate about. He arrives at the 5 areas given below. These areas are an example so feel free to use your own words and your own number of blades in your propeller.
- Work – career, profession, and business
- Earn – finances, savings, and investments
- Learn – personal development, education, and qualifications
- Fun – recreation, vacation, hobbies, and interests
- Connect – friends, family, society, spirituality, and mindfulness
Step 2: Rate your current and desired level of fulfillment in each of these areas.
Be honest with yourself. Which blades need some polish? How fulfilled do you feel about each area today? Which blades are bent or out of shape? When you look at the desired level of fulfillment, don’t be bothered about how you will get there. Focus on, where you would like to be and by when. Tom does this on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the highest)
Step 3: Set a vision, goals, and milestones for each area
Your vision will motivate you to bridge the gap. Goals will improve your clarity on how to get there. Milestones will serve as a progress check on your journey. Tom would need to set a vision for each area in his life and set 1 or 2 goals (short-term, mid-term or long-term) for each area. He then needs to break down his goals into milestones that he can monitor. Given below is a partially complete example for the Connect area.
Step 4: Work with an accountability partner to ensure you stay focused
Accountability partners are a great way to ensure you don't get back to your old ways. For example, Tom picks his university professor (who he is still in touch with) as his accountability partner. He shares his Vision, Goals, and Milestones in an email and confirms that he will report monthly progress on these.
Passion or Inaction?
You are on your life's journey right now and reading this article is the first step to pause and reflect on your actions. As you continuously strive to achieve more, your propeller will get dirty. You will need to regularly maintain, inspect, adjust and polish it to get the most out of your life.
Using the PoL tool is like taking a pit stop to reflect on your life. It can ensure your actions are balanced and take you in the direction you want to go. The choice is yours, gain clarity and work with a balanced approach towards your passions or just keep doing and live with inaction in other areas that you are passionate about.