The 4 Step Areas of Life Assessment

Are you living the life you want or being run over by life?

We are at Part 2 in the Goals for the Rich Life series, and we are going to dig into the areas of life defined in Part 1 of the process. We’ll uncover what’s working or what’s not; which ones are most important to us; and our vision of what each area should look like. 

This is where we create the life we want using a process for assessing where we are today and constructing a vision of where we want to be.

If you haven’t read the first part of this series on Goals for the Rich Life - The 4 Areas of Life to Get Your Journeys Back on Course, then go read it now and come back when you’ve got your map. Part 1 sets the foundation we’ll build on here. Creating that initial foundation and understanding lets us continue this journey from the same starting point.

We will evaluate where we are with the areas of our lives. Asking questions of ourselves as a method to determine what we want. What we want from our health. What we want from our relationships. What we want from our…

Again, if you didn’t read the first post in the series, or read it but didn’t do your mind map, you might want to stop and go do that now. Sure, there is value in this post without creating that completing the foundation, but much more if you are participating. Go back to that post and build your Areas of Life map.

With your mind map in hand, let’s get started on the assessment of our areas of life.

Areas of Life Assessment

We’ll follow a four-step process in evaluating the different areas. This can be done right on the mind map. Here is where MindMup comes in. No more running out of board space as I did initially (see original board here).

We’ll be creating nodes on our mind map for each step, but let's cover the process first.

Step 1: Ideal Vision

In creating the vision, we paint a picture of how the area of life or sub-category would look when we have achieved it. As if we’re living in that moment.

For example, the ideal vision for Retirement could be “I have five million in retirement assets generating a yearly income that allows me to work only when I want, take 4 vacations a year, …”

Step 2: Set a Priority

Juggling so many areas of life sub-categories, task, and projects we can occasionally forget about our priorities. Being overcome by events. Knowing our priorities helps us make decisions in the moment.

With our ideal vision in mind for a specific sub-category, set a priority for it. Using a scale of 1 — 5, 1 being a low priority and 5 being a high priority, set the priority for each.

Take a couple of passes through the sub-categories. Try using the following rules on subsequent passes through:

  1. No more than four 5s.
  2. No more than two 5s under one top area (e.g., <Your Name Inc.>, Relationships).
  3. No more than three 4s and only one under a top area.
  4. As many 1s, 2s, and 3s as needed.

Wow, that sounds difficult. The first three are the most important. An easy way to do this is to write on a post-it “5 — 5 — 5 — 5 — 4 — 4 — 4” and cross them out as you go.

Renumber as needed. Note, if you’ve got your wife or husband at a 1 or 2 trouble may wait ahead.

The purpose of the rules are to ensure everything isn’t a high (5) priority. Ending up with a bunch of 3s or 2s that have to battle it out at decision time is good. Keep count of who wins and adjust the numbers accordingly. Develop your own rules as you repeat this process.

Step 3: Area Status

This is where The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly comes out about the areas we’ve been working on. Or as the case me be, haven’t been working on.

With a picture in our minds of the Ideal Vision, we want to capture what we’ve been doing to move this area forward or what’s got us to this current situation.

Write down what you are doing, should’ve been doing, or failed at. Note, failing is a good thing. That means you were doing something from which you can take some lessons and corrective actions.

When entering the status, start with a date entry and then text. For a new sub-category status entry, an example could be: “20171130 — I’ve saved $120,000 but I think I’m behind where I should be.”

If we are reviewing an Areas of Life mind map we previously did, we’d enter our performance based on the goals and actions we created. An example entry could be: “20171130 — behind on savings for the year; missed two months of paying myself first.

We’ll be covering the goals creation in the next post.

Tip: Saving the old status when updating helps to point out patterns.

Step 4: Rating

For the rating, we will again use a scale of 1 - 5 with 1 being “bad," “it sucks” and 5 being “it’s great," “I’ve been rocking," “Satisfied with where it is.” With your ideal vision in mind and understanding the good, bad, and ugly of what’s been happening an apparent rating should fall out.

Be completely honest with yourself. It’s okay to be happy or satisfied in an area.

If using mind mapping software, color code the sub-category for easy visual reference of how the performance is going. I use a green, yellow, and red system. Green for 4 and 5; yellow for 3 and 2; Red for 2 and 1.

You may have noticed that I’ve used 2 twice. The priority of an area can play a role in deciding the rating. If the rating is 2, and the priority is 1, marking it yellow lets us know it’s not on track but not a big deal.

Consider dropping items that are consistently red with low priority. If it’s something that may be focused on in the future, freeze it. Color it blue and close the node up.

Updating the Mind Map

If you’ve been following along updating the mind map initially created in the first post in the series, then you should have added Assessment nodes for many of the sub-categories (E.g., Wife, Son, Fitness, Retirement, etc.).

Areas of LIfe Assessment Example - Empty Node

If you are using MindMup, the easiest way to do this is:

  1. Create a template node (shown above).
  2. Copy that node (click on Assessment to make the node active) and CTL-C or CMD-C to copy.
  3. Select the node where the template will be added.
  4. Paste (CTL-V or CMD-V) the template to the active node.

Repeat the steps above to add the template to all the other nodes.

Then get started doing the assessments on the areas of life you’ve identified. You should have nodes similar to below when you are done.

Areas of LIfe Assessment Example - Completed Node

Don’t feel as if you need to finish all areas in one sitting or at all. If you only want to focus on a sub-category such as Retirement, or all of the sub-categories under Finances, it’s up to you. Return to the mind map at any time for review and updates.

The Wrap Up

We’ve taken our Areas of Life mind map a step further. By adding an assessment to the sub-categories, we can see what’s important; where we want to be; and how we’re doing. We’ve put the first layer of bricks on the foundation established in Part 1 of the series.

An honest assessment puts us in place to make better decisions, move forward, change directions, or stop doing something. Another significant benefit is we have this available online or on paper to review and update as needed. Don’t wait for the end of the year either. We are not New Year’s resolution junkies. Schedule a calendar invite for yourself quarterly.

In the next post, we’ll be creating goals and turning them into SMART goals. In the meantime, let me know how you did with incorporating the Assessment node into your mind map. What area did you find most difficult to assess?

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Hope this leads to a positive step on your Rich Life Journey!

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