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Have you ever felt as if you wanted to level up in your life as a whole, but struggled to figure out how to do that?
I used to feel this way – or really, I felt like just when I would get one area of life in a better place, other parts would be falling apart and I couldn’t figure out why.
It took a couple of years until I finally realized that it’s a game-changer to actually map out the 8 areas of life to set goals.
Doing this helped me figure out which areas need the most improvement and which areas I was maintaining really well. These days I use the categories below to check in every so often and readjust.
I talk about these areas of life pretty often but I’ve never laid them out like this so I thought it would be really helpful to do so finally! Below, I’ve laid out the 8 areas of life I’ve found just about everything in life to fall under.
Plus, I share my own struggles and included tips and resources for each category to get you started.
(Eating Habits, Exercise, and Affecting Lifestyle Choices.)
I love what Rachel Hollis says about health, which is that health is about how you feel; not how you look. It’s so true and it shifts our perspective on what health goals we should set.
Figuring out what makes you feel your best, what gives you the most energy, and what keeps you going physically is a huge factor in living life well.
This category is your eating habits, exercise habits, and other affecting lifestyle choices that affect how you physically feel.
Personally, I’ve found that one of the biggest factors in how I feel is directly related to the food I eat. Food is fuel. It’s what keeps us going – it’s what gives us energy.
Think of it like a car. Have you ever noticed that your car runs better with gas from certain gas stations and runs rougher with gas from other places? Imagine what would happen if you only put crappy poor quality gasoline in your car? It 100% would not run as well as if you put the higher quality stuff in there. Our bodies are the same way. Greasy fried foods are not going to fuel your body the same way that fresh greens will.
Want help figuring out what kinds of foods will fuel your body well? Check out Body Love!
I also recently had a food sensitivity test done. I sent in hair samples and received an in-depth report on whether or not my body had a negative reaction. This is different than allergies. Everyone’s bodies process food differently. The info I got has been a game-changer for me!
(Income, Budgeting and Management Skills, Debt, and Mindset.)
Let’s just be real here for a moment – things change when our finances change. Whether it’s good or bad change, it’s true. These days, most people’s finances are a mess. We don’t feel like we make enough, we’re embarrassed to admit the state of our finances to others, and scared to check for ourselves.
I went years doing my best to avoid logging into my accounts cause I didn’t want to see the truth about my finances. Somewhere along the way, we were taught that finances were complicated, that we (especially as women) aren’t expected to understand them, and that it takes a really really smart person to know what all that financial mumbo jumbo means.
The reality is that the basics of finances are something you can understand if you choose to – and it’s the key to taking the first step to feeling better about your money and your life. If you feel like your money is a mess, consider setting a simple goal in this area of life by getting your finances in order.
If you need some help, this blog post by my friend over at MoneyDoneRight is super helpful!
3) PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT
(Self-Growth: Mental, Emotional, Physical, and Spiritual.)
(Time and Productivity Management, Skillful Decision Making, and Setting Goals.)
I’ve been on a personal development journey for a few years now and I’ve found it’s easiest to think of this in four categories: mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual. All of my growth has taken place in one of these four areas and they all also overlap.
It seems as though choosing growth in one’s self is one of the hardest things to do but also one of the most rewarding. Nothing has changed my life in the last few years nearly as much as making the decision to grow personally.
In fact, “growth” was my word of the year in 2017 and it’s something I choose everyday. Out of all 8 areas of life to set goals for, this may be the one that people push back on the most. Not coincidentally, I believe it’s also the area that shifts your life the most.
Thinking you want to start on your own personal development journey? Check out this resource I’ve put together called A Year of Better.
(Making Money, Work/Life Balance, Skill Set, and Advancement Ambitions.)
This area of life is one that can be so amazing and impactful. Both for us and others. The idea that we can use our skills to do work that serves others and that it all can make money that provides for ourselves and family is amazing!!
Now, I realize the majority of people hate their jobs. If that’s you, I would love to challenge you to consider choosing this as one of your areas of life to set goals! The way I see it, most people have three options in the area of their career:
- they can actively seek to advance their career in the field they’re in
- they can build up their own side hustle or business
- they can switch career fields.
Here’s the thing, life is just way too short and unpredictable to spend it working in a job you don’t feel good about. Now, sometimes we need to do the work we don’t enjoy to get where we want to go but it’s very different than settling for what you hate because you think it’s the only way.
Having a job you care about and feel is impactful can simply be a decision away. If you want to change the way you feel about your career, change or create goals that will get you there.
Hate your job but want to feel happy? I wrote a post about this.
Thinking a side hustle or building a business is something you want to do? Check out the CreateandGo.com team. They helped me get my start when I was new to this online space and it’s been life-changing.
(Family, Romantic, Work, and Friendships.)
Straight up, relationships are hard. Like, way harder than I ever thought they would be as a child.
I mean, not all of them are. There definitely are magical moments when we just click with someone and then they become our best friends forever… but the amount of times that’s happened for me is strongly outweighed by the friendships and relationships that have taken a good amount of effort.
About two years ago, I realized that relationships are an area of life I can actively and intentionally choose to improve. Now, I want to say this with the disclaimer that it’s not about people-pleasing to get people to like you.
Sometimes setting goals to improve the area of your relationship means getting closer to someone, and sometimes it means realizing it’s time to set up boundaries and create space.
The number one resource that has helped me with this area are the books The Road Back to You and The Path Between Us. These books are about the enneagram, which is a personality framework. I’ve honestly never come across one more accurate or helpful. Understanding it has changed the relationship I have with myself, my husband, family, and even how I relate to strangers. Definitely worth a read even if you don’t choose “relationships” as one of the areas of life to set goals for yourself.
(Learning About Yourself, Introspective Growth, and Processing Old Griefs and Circumstances.)
(Resting and Rejuvenating: Mentally, Emotionally, Physically, and Spiritually.)
That’s right, self-care gets a whole category to itself. Why? Because if you don’t take care of yourself well, you can’t take care of anything else well.
Self-care is about making sure we’re taken care of. Which so many of us tend to neglect first when the chaos and busy arise. I realize that self-care may overlap with a couple of the other 8 areas of life but I think it’s really important to note it as a separate thing to need to acknowledge.
Making it a category of its own is the only way some of you will ever pay attention to it – I see you out there… and I’m here to say it’s okay to give yourself permission to think about yourself.
I’ve heard a few people use this quote and I think it’s perfect so I’m going to repeat it here:
“Self-care is not selfish. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.”
7) HOME LIFE
(Atmosphere, Physical Space, and Organization.)
A couple of years ago, we made the decision to change some things up in our house. We had downsized and yet accumulated more stuff that was sitting in storage bins or not serving much purpose. The house felt cluttered, disorganized, and chaotic.
I had gotten a hold of the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up a bit before and decided to revisit it. Plus, Josh got on board too. We let go of so many things we didn’t even know we had or why we had them. Things that we had moved what felt like a thousand times for no reason.
When we finished decluttering and organizing the entire house had a different feel. I’m not sure I even know how to explain it but it truly felt magical. The atmosphere felt lighter and brighter. As a whole, the house felt good, was organized, and easier to keep clean.
If every time you step into your house, it adds to the overwhelm instead of feeling like a place of rest, consider setting some goals to make a change in this area.
One of my favorite places to go for this topic is the Simply Fiercely blog. It was created by my friend Jen who is a former shopaholic but now teaches about simple and intentional living.
She also has a quick challenge to help you get the momentum rolling in this area: 7 Simple Days.
8) EXTRACURRICULAR TIME
(Free-Time, Fun, Vacations, Hobbies, Volunteering, etc.)
Annnnd finally we’ve arrived at the last of our 8 areas of life – extracurricular time. Not that many of us have “extra” time these days but that’s what I’m hoping to help you change here!
Similar to self-care, taking intentional time for vacations, hobbies, and doing things we love like volunteering or seeing friends is one of the first things to go in the name of “busy”.
The reality is that we all have enough time in life. It’s just a matter of what we choose to do with it. Every single thing we do with our time is a choice – so why not choose to add a little fun time??
For those of you who find this super difficult, I always suggest creating a standing appointment for it. Such as, once a week (or month) you have a set time that you go off to spend your extracurricular time doing what you love! Maybe it’s fishing, or reading a book, or taking a stroll through a local park.
Whatever it looks like, I hope you are able to set goals in a way that’s just right for you!
You might be looking at this list and thinking you would do well to set goals in all 8 areas of life… Don’t worry, that should probably be true for everyone. There’s always room to grow, right?
However, if you’re feeling overwhelmed about where to start, try figuring out which one needs the most change and working on that area first.
There’s a saying, “A rising tide lifts all boats” and it’s perfect for this because I’ve found that as I worked to improve one area of my life, other areas naturally followed.
Got a handle on your area of life to set goals now but not sure how to start?
Find out what your goal setting style is by taking the quiz below!
ABOUT ALLISON SUE
I’m a personal growth blogger, a nerd when it comes to books, and a lover of all things journals. When I’m not with you online, you’ll find me with my family, traveling somewhere, or watching Chinese shows on Netflix with my husband. Empowering you with tools to navigate to a life you feel confident about is always on my mind. I’d love to be on your confidence hype squad!
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