Here’s a mental model for when you’re planning your next adventure.
It’s a way to set priorities and have a balanced life.
Everyone says they want a balanced life. But nobody spends exactly equal amounts of time on their health, family, career, or other pursuits. Life is a series of rotating priorities.
This week, there’s one big thing that requires the bulk of your time and energy. Maybe you just started writing a book or working on a new business.
You’re juggling all the other important stuff around that.
Your current priority is going to cut into the time you spend at the gym, and you might not have dinner with your family every night.
In a few weeks or months, you will shift your priorities and put the lion’s share of your time into something else.
Elements of a Balanced Life
There are five big things that bring success, meaning, and quality to your life:
- Purpose (Your values and beliefs about why you’re in the world)
- People (Who is important to you, and who you want to meet or attract into your life)
- Health (Both physical and mental health affect your capacity to enjoy life and make an impact)
- Ability (Your skills, talents, and knowledge—and the effort you make to build on these)
- Career and finances (How you pay for it all)
I think of these as points on a star. At any given time, the point on the top of the star is your current priority. The two points on the bottom are your support. They’re holding you up. You probably can’t give them the attention they deserve right now. But you will.
For example, suppose you visit your family for the holidays. The top point on your star is People. The two supporting points on the bottom are probably Career and Health.
Because of your career, you have the money to travel and visit your family. Your career supports you and your star. But at the same time, you put less effort into work, school, or business while you visit your family.
The Star model shows you that’s OK. Your career was in a supporting role.
Health is another supporting point. You’re able to endure the stress of holiday travel because you take good care of yourself for most of the year. You may have to miss a few workouts while you visit, and you’ll eat and drink a few things that you normally wouldn’t. But health is your support.
Then the visit ends and you’re back in the fray. January is when many people hit the gym and dry out their livers. By February, you’re bogged down in work and career responsibilities. Health or Career might become the new point on your star. Or maybe you’re working hard to find or fulfil your purpose.
But you’ve got backup. You can lean heavily on your talents and skills. And you have people supporting you too, whether it’s colleagues, friends, family, or a teacher/coach who is helping you along.
Create a Star for Your Adventure
When it comes to Adventure, all five points of the star are in alignment. Every bold new undertaking should be tied in with your Purpose. You will help, inspire, and be helped by the People who are already in your life, and those you will meet along the way.
If your adventure doesn’t make you physically healthier, it will at least improve your mental health. You will also draw upon your strongest Abilities to carry out your quest, even while you discover and develop new ones.
Finally, your adventure might boost your Career, simply from the experience and confidence you will gain from it if nothing else.
Even if an adventure costs you a fortune in the short term, most adventures will ultimately put gold in your coffers and contribute to your earning power.
I’m putting together a special newsletter called Ithaka. It’s all about finding yourself and living a bold, rich life of growth and adventure. If you join Ithaka, you will get a new tip or tool to make the most of a point on your star in every issue.
By the way, the name of this new bonus comes from the poem by C.P. Cavafy. I have the poem on a cabinet door in my office, so I can read it every day. You can read it here.