- Examine various areas of your life
- Identify your strengths and weaknesses
- Develop a vision that will lead to a balanced, happy and fulfilling life
Mapping your Life Path
In previous lessons you explored career options, something that you need to do at this stage in your life; however, you must also realize that your career is not the sole, or even the most important aspect of your future. Many people put their all into career development and neglect other aspects of their life which as a result can create feelings of emptiness and loneliness. It is a great feeling to excel in your chosen career but in all reality your work is simply what you do, it is not the center of your life. Your life will be much more fulfilling if you view your career or your work as a means of support for your life rather than seeing it as the center of your life or your purpose. Think about it. If your career is what you live for, what are you going to do when you retire or if you become disabled and can’t work? Will your life lose all its meaning?
Achieving balance in your life can help to avoid complete devastation. There are several areas of your life that require attention. These areas fall into five broad categories:
The personal areas of your life deal with your needs, desires and passions – the things that give you personal satisfaction. This area may include things like physical fitness, your home and surroundings, travel, recreational activities, pets, friends, romance, your social life, your appearance, and so forth. Some people are somewhat selfish and put their personal needs and desires above all else, but many people sacrifice their personal needs in order to fulfill their responsibilities in all other aspects of their life. Neither of these extremes are healthy. Personal needs and desires deserve adequate attention and you should not feel guilty for putting your personal needs above others at times. At the same time, you should not be selfish and inflexible to the point that others are negatively affected.
The professional aspects of your life may bring you personal satisfaction, but there is a fine line between personal and professional areas of your life. It is not uncommon for people who derive personal satisfaction from their careers to become workaholics and for those who do not find their work to be personally satisfying to become lazy and unmotivated. Again, these are both extremes that should be avoided. Professional development and being the best that you can be in your chosen career makes you feel good about yourself and will likely lead to career advancement which will enable you to provide the financial support that you need to fulfill other needs in your life. This is good as long as there is a balance and other aspects of your life are not neglected.
Familial aspects of your life deal with your family – both the family you have now and the family you may have in the future including a spouse, children and maybe eventually grandchildren. There can be extremes in this area as well as individuals can become so centered on their family that the loss of a family member can make them feel like life is not worth living. On the other hand, a person may neglect the familial aspects of their life taking their family for granted which can eventually leave them filled with guilt for not spending enough time with individuals in their family. Life is busy and individuals have many different things they are involved in. In any case; however, it is important to spend time with your family and to cherish each and every member of your family while you have them.
Spiritual aspects of a person’s life are another area that is sometimes neglected. Spirituality means different things to different people. To many people religious beliefs are their spiritual focus. Others may gain spiritual satisfaction from nature or just from exercising their personal values or doing good deeds. Whatever your source of spirituality, it is an area of your life that deserves attention.
Community is the fifth area of focus that can lead to fulfillment. We are all affected by the community in which we live and we all have various levels of concern regarding it. Your community interests may be narrow, with the greatest concerns for your neighborhood or your town, or they may be expansive with concern for the state, the nation or even the world. Whatever your level of community interest is, contributing to the community in any way that you can generates personal satisfaction. This satisfaction may come from voting, serving in a public office, participating in community improvement efforts, or simply voicing your concerns.
Every individual has some interest in these five areas though for some one area may be more intense than others. Whatever the case, you will find happiness and fulfillment from achieving a balance that is right for you between each of these areas of your life. Throughout your life, be cautious about extremes. Be sure that you don’t spend all of your time and energy on one area of your life while neglecting the others. It may not be evident at the time, but if you go to extremes, down the road you will likely have many regrets.
For a teaching lesson plan for this lesson see:
Mapping your Life Path Lesson Plan