As the end of the year approaches, we automatically start to make a balance of the year, thinking of what we could have done better.
This, in theory, is a very good exercise. The problem is that we tend to isolate the areas of our life where we want to improve, and we usually don’t see our life as a combination of different areas that all need to be in balance in order for us to function optimally and reach our goals.
It could be counterintuitive to think that to be able to reach your natural weight or to have healthy habits, we might need to act on our job or our relationships. The reality is, though, that nothing is isolated in this life, and every part works when there is a balance in the whole.
The Institute for Integrative Nutrition teaches the concept of Primary and Secondary foods. Secondary foods are what you eat, drink, inhale, ingest, this is what we first think of when talking about nutrition and feeding the body.
Primary foods are your physical activity, career, spirituality and relationships. These are also required to nourish the body, mind, and soul. The popular phrase in the school is, you can eat a perfect diet for your body but if you are unhappy with your job, in a toxic relationship, not moving your body, or don’t know your purpose in life, you won’t be truly healthy and happy.
For example, if your relationships are not fulfilling you, you might turn to food for that emotional satisfaction – a substitute for love.
I understood this concept when I came across the “Circle of Life”, also called “Wheel of Balance”. This interactive exercise gives you a clear picture of where your life is thriving and what areas could use a little more work. Try it now!
Simply put: this is a circular diagram that we divide with 12 lines.
Each line goes from the center to the border and represents an area of your life. Classically, these areas are the following:
Primary Food (copyright IIN, used with permission)
You have to decide how satisfied you feel with each area by placing a dot along the corresponding line.
The closer to the border, the more satisfied you feel in that area; the closer to the center, the less satisfied.
Then you need to join all the dots and see what kind of shape you’re left with. This gives you an immediate visual idea of how much balance you have in your life: the closer to a circle you get, the more your life is in balance.
Obviously, the bigger the circle, the better!
If, on the contrary, you get an odd shape and areas where you can see a definite low, you will know that you need to act in that area as soon as possible.
If you just let them be that way, the areas where you struggle the most will eventually suck your attention and energy so much that they will drain the satisfaction from other areas too!
Remember, the whole needs to be in balance for the part to work!
So, before making your New Year’s Resolution, I strongly suggest you print out the wheel of Balance (or draw it yourself! :)) and have a clear idea of the areas of your life that need the most attention.
After you have identified where you need to focus your attention, write down 1 to 3 clear goals to improve that area within the following month.
When writing down the goals, please make sure they are small enough to be realistic and fairly easy to achieve in a month timeframe, and clearly measurable.
Now set a reminder, and when a month has passed by, re-draw your wheel and see how it went and whether you need to keep focusing on the same area!
This exercise can be very revealing, and what you find out might even surprise you!