As a small business owner, sometimes you can get side-tracked with all the things going on, and miss out on the holistic personal development for life outside work. You’re wearing several different hats, from manager to technician in your business, and everything in between. Even if you have staff to help in all departments, you’re the overseer, and everything still falls under your responsibility. In the pursuit to keep all those moving parts working in balance, have you perhaps neglected the most important part of your business? You?
You are more than your business. A small business should be an extension of who you are as a person, and everything that’s important to you. But you are still a person, with emotional, physical and social needs. The start of the year is a great time to reflect on how you’re tracking, but it doesn’t have to be 1st January to be effective. This is something that you could do at the start of the financial year, too, or your birthday, or another significant anniversary, or actually any time of the year. The important thing is that you are looking at what you want to improve in you. Not the business, you. Holistic personal development covers a whole spectrum of areas in your life, and only one of them actually relates to your business. You can make business the biggest part of your life without even realising it, but there’s a lot more to you than just that.
Use The Wheel of Life for Holistic Personal Development
Using a wheel of life like the one shown here is a great way to carry out a self-assessment on how things are going across the board. There are 8 focus areas, and none are more important than the other. Rather, they all combine to represent the whole person. A true holistic approach. It’s really common to have one area performing better than the others, and for one area being weaker than the others. We can’t be great at everything all the time! So this exercise is not judgement or criticism of anything you’re doing wrong, it simply serves to identify and define an area that could enhance your overall life experience.
The 8 areas in the wheel of life are:
- Family and Friends
- Health and Wellbeing
- House and Home
- Recreation and Hobbies
- Personal Growth and Spirituality
- Wealth and Finances
- Business and Career
- Romance and Relationship
If you’re familiar with personal development, you know it is an on-going process. It’s not a task that you do once, it’s a continuing and life-long commitment to improving who you are, finding peace, balance and alignment, and being the best version of yourself that you can be. There are countless books and videos and influencers and inspirational speakers, but the first one to come into my life, many years ago, was Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” . This book doesn’t even mention the wheel of life, but it’s the one that got me started on improving my life.
Beware of negativity in your mind
Turning your attention inward to examine your life can be very uncomfortable if you’re usually self-critical. You’ll see all your blemishes and short-comings, and it can lead you down a spiral into self-loathing and depression. That’s not what we’re talking about here. This isn’t about fault-finding, it’s about self improvement. You want to do better, you want to be better, you want to feel better. So to begin this process of self-assessment and personal development, you must always start with self-love. Appreciate the beautiful and wonderful essence of you. Spend time to build up a foundation of self-love and appreciation, and hold onto this foundation as you focus on the various areas of your life.
A standard rule that exists in all my coaching sessions is that criticism, judgement, shame and blame are strictly forbidden. We know that these things exist in the outside world, but in our coaching sessions, they hinder the process of growth and progress. For some clients it’s difficult to stop that self-critical narrative in their head, and it can take some time and concentrated intentional effort to get a break from it. It forms such an important part of the process that we can’t begin until we eliminate those thoughts. Fill that space with love and appreciation, with empathy and acceptance.
Now we may continue.
Using a Permaculture Perspective for Holistic Personal Development
Permaculture is an entire lifestyle of living in harmony with the earth and society. It starts in the garden, and consequently is often mistaken for being just a garden thing. Permaculture starts with a focus on growing your own food because a harmonious and peaceful existence starts with the first of the core needs of life – food. From there, we seek balance and harmony in all things, and using the ethics and the principles as a lens to give us a permaculture viewpoint, we find solutions to problems, and ways to make our lives better, healthier, happier and complete.
Apply these permaculture perspectives to the wheel of life, and it may surprise you how it can shift the ideal from what you may have originally thought. You’ll find that you don’t get caught up in the trappings of what modern society would have you believe is the ideal life. Some things that you thought were essential can now appear almost irrelevant. When you use permaculture as your compass, you can get back to what is truly important.
Family and Friends:
The permaculture ethos of “People Care” reminds us that relationships are important. You need a community of people who love you, and you all give and receive that love. Be the change you want to see. A relationship exists between two or more people, but each person doesn’t necessarily invest the same amount of effort into the relationship. And that’s ok. Using a holistic personal development approach, you can be the one to build up the relationship based on love and acceptance, having something in common, and establishing a bank of trust and respect. As you develop these relationships, you will find your place in the society around you, seeing the way that you can contribute to the lives of those you love, as you receive love and support from that same network.
Health and Wellbeing:
All that we need for health and happiness comes from the earth. Honour this source of life. Your body is a magnificent temple, and deserves the cleanest and best quality forms of nutrition. In return, you experience health and vitality, strength and endurance. For those who have experienced life on both sides of the line, you will appreciate the priceless gift of health when all the parts of your body are performing their proper functions. This is achieved when your food is clean, grown in earth with all the right natural biodiversity in place. Without chemicals, poisons, or synthetics, when we just let nature do its thing, we are healthier. Holistic personal development helps you to reduce the toxins coming into your body, and your body will respond with greater health. This is the lifeblood of permaculture.
House and Home:
If you consider the permaculture ethos of “Earth Care” you can see that your home, your shelter, your sanctuary, can only be truly ideal when it protects and gives back to the earth. A sustainable home is one that uses resources wisely, that is designed to take advantage of the natural assets of sun, wind and rain, creating a sanctuary of comfortable spaces for your family to grow and be nurtured. Holistic personal development with a permaculture perspective replaces the worldly need for big houses that consume excessive resources and contribute nothing in return. Beauty is found in design and aesthetics, being a balance of form, function, colour, light and space, and this means you can create beauty from simple and natural things.
Recreation and Hobbies:
The way we spend our free time contributes a lot to our true sense of fulfilment. As a small business owner, you may not get much free time at the moment, and so it becomes critically important to make the most of the time you do have. Your free time, if spent on activities that feed your soul, will rejuvenate you, and provide you with the much-needed refreshment to carry on in your business. You can find this rejuvenation from activities that light up your heart and soul. What are you really passionate about? Everyone is unique, so don’t rely on what other people want to do. Find what really lights you up. Go back to your earliest childhood memories of what delighted you, and go from there. Find your passion, and make time to enjoy it. When your schedule is overflowing with task lists and responsibilities, these recreations and hobbies often take the back seat. It’s true that there is a season for all things, and for some, the season might be all about building your business up, so that, at a later time, you can enjoy the fruits of your labours and have more recreation time. That’s fine, keep that as your long-term goal, and so keep that passion alive by making small pockets of time even in your busy schedule to help you stay on track.
Personal Growth and Spirituality:
The reason these two things are grouped together is because spirituality and personal growth really are the same thing. It’s a connection to a higher source. For me, I claim the privilege of worshipping God, the Eternal Father, as creator of the earth and universe, according to my own conscience and beliefs, and in claiming that privilege, I encourage all people everywhere to enjoy the same – you can worship how, where, or what you choose. When you connect with a higher source, it elevates and lifts you higher, causing you to make changes and better choices to be a better person, a better version of yourself, hence the coupling with personal growth. Developing this pursuit of holistic personal development will provide an increase of inner peace and clarity. Trusting in God means that you do all that you can within your control, and leave the rest up to God to do what He can do for all the things outside your control.
Wealth and Finances:
There can be a few different perspectives on wealth within the permaculture framework. Some would say that the ethos of “Fair Share” encourages a tendency towards a more socialist society, where all things are shared in common. I love this ideal, and I believe in freely giving and sharing with those in need, and in a society free from the stain of greed and selfishness, this would be possible. Some would say that to be truly happy, you need to let go of your pursuit of money, to live modestly and frugally. To live a simple life. This can be misinterpreted as choosing poverty, which I do not support. Poverty is to be in want, to not have enough, to be disadvantaged, to have growth hampered and held back. On this earth, where we have such an incredible abundance all around us, we should work for and achieve an abundance of all things, including money. Finances, managed sustainably, can be the source of sharing and giving freely, and still have sufficient for all your pursuits and needs.
Business and Career:
Your profession, for many people, becomes a key element of your identity. When you meet someone for the first time, a common question can be: “what do you do for a living?” And then you become identified as that profession from then on. It’s been a sticking point for many in their pursuit to develop their own sense of identity. This just illustrates how much of an impact your business and career can have on your life. And where it has such impact, therein is the opportunity to make this align with your core values. You can be known as a problem-solver for whatever it is that you are an expert in. Imagine what that would do to your sense of identity?
Romance and Relationship:
It is a beautiful thing to have a spouse. In the first area discussed regarding family and friends, I talked about relationships, but this goes to the next level. More than all the family members and friends in your network, this is that ONE special person you share your life with. Share your life with an equal partner, accept them as they are, and appreciate the way that they enrich your life, in an interdependent union of love and service.
Marriage is hard, and yet so rewarding. It’s worth the effort. Given my experiences and the journey I’ve been on, I get it. Sometimes, despite your best effort and intentions, it doesn’t work. Heartbreak sucks. Depending on your current relationship status, this area of your life could be really great or really bad, or anywhere in between. So all I can say here is: it’s worth the effort. Recognise your emotional needs from that one person you share your life with, recognise their needs too, and build a relationship based on trust, love, forgiveness, respect and compassion.
Wheel of Life Questions
From these eight areas of the wheel of life, as you assess each one, consider what your ideal is. What is the pinnacle? Ask yourself:
- What am I doing well?
- What can I do more of?
- What am I struggling with?
- What should I do less of?
List all the things that you think of in each area. You can end up with quite a long list, and that’s ok. We’re not saying that you need to do everything this time around. It’s a good thing to just be aware of it.
Now take this list, and measure the impact of each answer on the impact matrix:
Record the number that corresponds with the frequency and intensity of each item.
At the end of this exercise, the highest numbers will provide a short-list of things that you can do that will have the most impact on your life, and these should now be your highest priorities. Your holistic personal development is now under way, and you are working towards a better, happier, and more fulfilling life.
I have prepared a template to help you carry out this self assessment using the wheel of life, the permaculture perspective, and the impact matrix. The intent for this exercise is to identify and define a goal that you can work towards, that will have the greatest impact in improving your holistic life fulfilment. Once you have identified what you want to achieve, you can plan how to work towards that, but that’s a whole other topic for next time. Stay tuned.
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