This post was last updated on: Jan 13, 2023
It will be updated again in Jan 2024
Happy New Year Folks! I hope you've had some time to reflect on 2022 and have hit the ground running as two weeks have already gone. I have updated my daily routine and am building the discipline that the new routine requires. Tough but necessary. Anyway, let me get on with today's post.
According to LifeBook developed by Jon and Missy Butcher, a person’s life can be imagined as having twelve dimensions. All the twelve are important. And they feed into one another to create the life you are living today.
Every individual will rank or prioritise these twelve dimensions differently. But you do need to consciously rank them as your ranking will then provide a way to choose how you live your days. I offer the ranking below as a suggestion. But your life is your own and you should rank them as you please.
To run the risk of overstating the point, this is not a mere list. For it to guide your life, it must be a ranked list. If you've forgotten what it means to rank a list, I'm not going to tell you because the work of finding out will be good for you and you will not forget after you have done it.
To improve your life, you can make changes in any or all dimensions.
The twelve dimensions are:
If you are a Christian, then your spiritual life deals with your personal relationship with Jesus, and love for others. Jesus called his disciples to “come follow me”. Being a disciple of Jesus requires time spent with him. Reading, and obeying his word. Prayer. Sensitivity to and obedience to the Holy Spirit. Fellowship with other believers. And spreading the good news. If you do this, his word changes you. You become “a new creation”, your mind is renewed daily, and you begin to live life according to God’s will for you. Not doing this leaves you vulnerable to “worldly wisdom” which does not come from God. And words that do not come from God have deception at their core and lead you on a path away from His will.
If you are married, your love relationship is with your spouse. For anything to be successful, we need to be investing in it daily. Marriage is no exception. We need to make the right moment by moment choices that bring us together rather than tear us apart. And it takes prayer, conscious practice, and loving actions. When marriage is going well, it is a source of deep love, acceptance, and support.Weathering storms together and enjoying the good times together creates a friendship that improves over time. It energises you and frees you to be your best in the other areas of life.
If you are single, but planning to marry, you can start reflecting on what you are looking for in a future spouse and praying for God to prepare your spouse for you.
Our children are a gift from God. And we have the responsibility to be good stewards. If we do this well, our children become some of our biggest blessings and a daily source of laughter, sharing, hugs, and learning in a give and take that motivates, grows us, and gives us peace. When parenting doesn’t go well, children become a headache, a source of worry, and anxiety. Here, you need to think like a leader of your house. What culture are you intentionally or unintentionally creating in your home? Are you creating a home where God’s will is sought as the song “God give us Christian homes” by the Mylon Hayes Family says? You need to intentionally create your culture. You need to intentionally develop your kids to actualize their God-given potential. And you need to pay attention to the results your parenting is producing and steer things in the direction you desire.
We’re given one body. And when that body is down, nothing else can happen. Taking care of our bodies involves nourishment and movement that maintains and improves its health, performance and appearance. Like everything else, no extreme measures are needed. What is needed is consistency of effort in the right direction. Choose and control your diet, exercise regularly and go for regular checkups.
Character is who you are. Do you take short cuts? How do people experience you? A healthy spiritual life does shape our character. But in addition to this, there are habits that can be developed. Like being excellent. Honouring your word. Speech that is seasoned with salt. Always being early rather than late. Going the extra mile. Being organised. Being a good steward.
What are you here to do? What is your life’s purpose? And how will you use your strengths, gifts, interests and abilities to serve the world. To discover and live your purpose, you have to do the work of discovering and leading with your strengths, living in alignment with your values. And serving others. Living a life that is aligned in one direction doesn’t happen by accident, you have to be doing things to shift your life there. You can’t do that if you’re confused. You need clarity. And clarity comes from reflection, soul-searching, taking action, and sometimes getting help.
You can think of your social life as consisting of your extended family, close friends or friends who have become family, your network, and acquaintances. All of these groups need to be handled differently. All these relationships need continuous nurturing in order to flourish.
But you have to get your order right. In Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, we discover a man who invested so much in his country but too little in his mother. If that order was consciously chosen, then he lived well. If it wasn’t then, he had room for improvement.
A note about friends. As the bible says a good friend can stick closer than a brother. You don’t need a lot but you need some. How do you choose your vital few? How do you learn to be a cherished friend? And how do you invest in your relationship with them so that it becomes a source of refreshment and refinement?
This is the work you do. Work is where you’ll probably spend the majority of your time. It can be a source of meaning/impact, work you enjoy, and rewards including financial compensation. You need to choose your vocation, choose your destination wisely and put in the years to get where you desire. But you also need to ensure that the journey itself is a source of joy.
Emotions seem trivial but they have a big impact on our energy. A badly chosen word can change a person’s mood. Anxiety can render an entire day unproductive. So you need to identify what energises you and what drains your energy and systematically eliminate the energy drains and at the same time do more of the things that give you energy. Emotional life is connected to things like self-worth and boundaries.Poor management of emotional life can lead to health problems and unhappiness.
Quality of Life
What do you want your house to look like? How do you want it to feel? What car? What comforts? What do you want your typical day to be like? All this you must choose. Or you’ll end up with something chosen for you by chance. A clean, tidy, beautiful and well-organised home makes your life easy. And creating a home you love to live in is achievable. But you have to work at it. You need ideas and then you need to acquire all the inputs, and voila, a beautiful space to reflect your personality.
As enjoyable as these comforts may be, some people have them but are not happy.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi argues in his book: Flow: The psychology of optimal experience that quality of life does not come from our possessions nor what others think of us. Rather, it comes from quality experiences. Specifically, it comes from how we experience the moments of our day. So look for ways to improve the way you experience the things you do daily (He offers some tips in his book) and the quality of your life will improve.
How smart do you want to be? Did you know studying doesn’t need to end after college? You can learn new languages. Master new skills. Keep your mind sharp. Choose to learn things that are unconnected to your career. It will make you a more rounded person. A more interesting person to know. And make your life richer.
How much do you want to earn? Save? Invest? Do you live on a budget? How do you define financial independence? And how much money do you need to achieve and sustain financial independence? How do you want to live when you retire? Money is important. Learn how to earn it. How to save it etc.
12 categories may seem like a lot but there is a simple way to think about them.
Spiritual, health and fitness, character, emotional, quality of life, and intellect can be thought of as self-enrichment activities. If you are bankrupt in these areas, it becomes difficult to be of service in the world.
Career and life vision enable you to do engaging work. Similarly, working on your social life, parenting and love relationships makes your relationships joyful. Try as much as possible to integrate these aspects of your life. Your service to the world must not stop at work (serving the community). It can be visible in all your closer relationships too (family and close friends)
Finally, there is an endowment approach to wealth. The truth is that fruit in all the 12 areas constitute wealth. To quote Paul Graham of YCombinator, wealth is anything that you want. When you become wealthy in the other eleven areas, the inflows and outflows of money in your life will become such that your monetary wealth will grow in a sustained way if you manage it well.
I welcome ideas as input for improving this post in the comments. Any ideas received will go into the 2024 version.
The concept of 12 Dimensions of life comes from LifeBook developed by Jon and Missy Butcher. Definitions are my own and reflect my current understanding. I update them as I gain insights from personal reading and practice.
The 3 broad categories (life enrichment, engaging work, and endowment approach to wealth) come from the book: Abundance Now: Amplify your life and achieve prosperity today by Lisa Nichols.
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