The arrival of spring signifies lighter evenings, spring flowers, easter eggs, drying clothes outside again and the inevitable spring clean. Am I the only one who feels the urge to nest a little around now? As the light becomes brighter, and the weather warms up just a little, there is something that calls me to spring clean. I like the way it makes me feel to clear the dust, shed the things that feel heavy and welcome in the light. There is something deeply satisfying and nurturing about the cathartic nature of cleaning and decluttering, that got me to wondering whether we could bring that into our lives in general.
For some of you this won’t be a new thing. We all have points of renewal in our years (mine are normally January and September) and for some of you that rhythm of the new financial year and clocks going forward or back might be when you find yours. But for some us, the concept of a life spring clean is a new one. As I write this, a number of the Quiet the Hive community and I have just completed the Quarterly Personal Review Challenge. In this, we look deeply into particular areas, and think about what we want to take forward into the next quarter, what we want to leave behind, and the lessons that we’ve learned from the previous quarter that we’ll be using to shape the coming one. I wanted to share a ‘lite’ version of this for those of you who missed the challenge this time around (and sign up to join us next time here)
There is no fancy equipment required just perhaps a notebook, a pen or a pencil, and some time to yourself. I know sometimes that can feel like the tricky part, but putting aside some time to reflect and plan is important. You could spread this over a week, putting aside 10 minutes a day to complete it if that makes it feel more manageable. This exercise is based on the wheel of life, which many of you will come across through coaching and often features in my programmes as a great place to start.
Ready? Here we go.
Step One: In your notebooks draw a large circle and split it up into between six and eight sections (or you can grab the template above). You are going to label each part with a significant focus of your life. You can choose any combination you like, and the template gives you some ideas. The ones I like to consider are along the lines of family & friends, home, my business, my children, mind, body & soul, finance, learning and adventure.
Yours may be similar, or they may be completely different, but they should relate to six to eight key parts of importance to you in your life.
Step Two: Give these categories some meaning. What do you really mean by these? For example, Family & Friends for me is called “Joy & Connectivity” because this reminds me that the connections I have should be joyful. It doesn’t mean they’ll always be easy, or happy, but it does mean that they give me a sense of purpose and joy to be connected to my friends and family, in a way that matters. It also reminds me that I need to put the work in to retaining a good, strong connection and that this is important to me.
Health is called “Mind, Body & Soul” as this needs to incorporate nourishing each. Health sometimes makes me just think about physical health, but for me doing a daily meditation, being mindful of my triggers which put me into a bit of a negative spiral, and moving my body are equally important.
Giving your areas a name that really helps you to nail what it means to you gives a bit more clarity about (a) why it’s important to you and (b) what it means to you.
Step Three: Each (or as many as you want) of your segments of your circle will now be named. The next step is, for each category, put a mark on each category showing how satisfied you are with the way each category is, or feels to you, at the moment. For example, at the moment I might want to put a mark around where I think a ‘six’ would be for my children. They feel happy, safe, well adjusted nurtured and nourished. However, I’m aware that my day job has taken over recently, and any spare time I’m trying to juggle all sorts of other life changes, which means that perhaps I’m not giving them the deep attention that I would like now.
A note here to help you not get too hung up on the scale or numbers. Don’t be too analytic about this and go with your gut. My six and your six may differ, but that really doesn’t matter, because it’s your scale and how you apply it only matters to you.
Go through this marking process for each of the areas that you’ve listed, and you’ll end up with something like this…
Step Four: Grab a different coloured pen and using that, or making a different mark, mark the point where you would like to be on this scale. You might assume that you would want each area to automatically be as close to perfect as possible, but actually, for some areas this would be too big a jump, for others ‘good enough’ is good enough. We can’t possibly put all our energy and focus into making every important area ‘perfect’, so think carefully about this (but trust your gut!).
For the ‘My Boys’ category I’m going to put that I would like to be closer to an eight. Now, the reason I put an eight, and not a 10 here is that I’m never going to be able to be with my children, 100% of the time for 100% of the days, partly because I split my time with my ex husband, and partly because actually, it’s important for me that they learn how to filter in time, get bored and think creatively, too. So for me, an eight is a good figure to aspire to, allowing for all of that.
For adventure, I’m just moving it up a notch to signify some of the covid restrictions still in place, and being happy that I’m able to still have some local adventure. For My Sanctuary, there is a bigger leap as I’m about to move house and that will feel like a huge jump through one thing.
Go through each of your areas, and do the same thing.
You should end up with something that looks a bit like this:
Step Five: Now take a look at your wheel noticing where you want to shift your focus to move up on the scale. Describe three to five actions that you could take that would move you from where you are now, and closer to where you want to be.
So, for example, for me, this might be making space for two hours every evening, between me finishing work and the boys going to bed, where I put my phone down and I’m present and connected to my children. That could be one action. Another could be planning some small adventures to spend time with them, which would also help with my ‘adventure’ category.
For the areas where you are exactly where you want to be, you might want to think about the activities that would maintain this consistency. For others, you may feel you’re putting too much energy into an area you might be achieving a 10, but actually an eight would feel okay. Think about what this means to you, what does it look like? How can you be sure that you are using your attention in a way that will help to build and maintain the goodness that you have rather than decreasing from it?
Don’t forget that your list of actions can include things to ditch or not do that don’t add any value, as well as things to do.
Go through and do create your list of three-five for each of your areas (the template also has a space for you to do this).
Step Six: Keep your list of actions and wheel somewhere you can see them. Other things you might want to do to keep your momentum are:
- Check in on your actions at least weekly. You might want to join in with Three Things Sunday each Sunday over on the Quiet the Hive Instagram to maintain your focus. Here we connect with each other over three small things we’re going to do this week to move us forward and get us closer to where we want to be.
- Grab an accountability buddy, or make commitments within a community who can support you with this, for example, the Quarterly Personal Review Facebook group, where you will get the support, encouragement, challenge you’ll need to keep you on track. Joining this group will also help give you the boot up the bum you might need to review your focus quarterly!
- Add a non-negotiable meeting in your diary for a date with your wheel to review it a few months from now. Remember to review your headings too as well as where you are to ensure that they are still relevant to you.
Happy Spring Cleaning!