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Woman standing on road with suitcase, ready for change.

You know you want to change something in your life, but where do you start? There are SO many different areas of life to focus on, and it can be overwhelming to try and change everything at once.

The first step in goal setting is to examine your habits. Habits are the things we do automatically, without even thinking about them. They’re often things we’ve been doing for a long time, and they can be tough to break.

But why focus on habits? Because they pretty much control our lives! Habits make up over 40% of our daily activities, and that has a giant impact on our quality of life. Make no mistake, our habits can either help us or hurt us, depending on what they are.

Why is it important to focus on new habits?

When it comes to making lasting change, it’s important to focus on developing new habits. As I mentioned above, habits are automatic behaviors that we do without thinking.

And since they’re automatic, they’re much more likely to stick than if we have to consciously think about doing them.

Think about it this way: if you want to make a change that lasts, you need to make it easy for yourself. And the best way to do that is to develop new habits around the behavior you want to change.

That way, you won’t have to expend a lot of energy thinking about it or willpower to do it – it will just become second nature.

So if you’re trying to make a change in your life, focus on developing new habits that support that change.

What areas of life can benefit from new habits?

Where you focus your attention first will depend on what’s most important to you at the moment. A great starting point is to use a self-assessment tool like the Wheel of Life.

The Wheel of Life is perfect to discover areas of your life that would benefit from attention. (Take the free Wheel of Life assessment here.) 

As shown on the Wheel, there are seven key areas of life that are most important to people:

Area 1 of Life: Faith

Silhouette of hands raised in faith against morning sky.

Faith is a deep emotional and spiritual connection to a higher power than oneself. A person might call that God, the Universe, or something else. Faith is the belief system and values on which we consciously and unconsciously operate.

Our spiritual journey is the cornerstone for how we live our lives. For some, faith is an important way to make sense of a confusing and often overwhelming world.

If we’re not confident in what we believe and trust, how can we choose a wise path? What is our anchor for making good decisions? Where do we draw the line on our moral behavior? Where is our strength when life hits hard? 

Spiritual practices can be in the form of prayer, meditation, or just regular reflection. Faith offers a sense of inner peace, comfort, and guidance to those who practice it.

Area 2 of Life: Health

Four happy women friends walking outdoors with yoga mats.

Mental, emotional and physical self care. It’s the practice of taking care of yourself so you can be your best self, nested within the concepts of self-compassion and self-love.

This area of your life covers both healthy mind and physical wellbeing. If we don’t respect our physical body and emotional health – our own wellness – where on earth will we get the energy and stamina to get up, get things done, and become the best version of ourselves? And how will we show up for the people we love?

This is a good place to set both short term and long term health and fitness goals. Self-care is a gift that we give ourselves. Nobody is going to make us fit and healthy but us.

Area 3 of Life: Order

Light, modern home office with everything in order.

Systems, routines and other forms of organization. If our days, our home, our surroundings have no sense of order, there’s no rhythm or balance or harmony.

It results in chaos that transfers to our internal thinking. We miss appointments, opportunities and birthdays. We miss trash day. We lose our keys and we’re late for work.

Do you need to take control of your life? You can create an action plan to get moving in the right direction.

“Order” can look like having a daily or weekly schedule of activities, routines, or tasks that you commit to doing. Meal planning, keeping a shopping list and maintaining a personal planner are all examples of what an orderly system looks like.

There’s no need for scary, radical changes, which never last anyway. Small steps will get you there!

Area 4 of Life: Family

Multi-racial, multi-generational family laughing together outdoors.

Family can be blood or the family we create through partners, pets, community and trusted friends. The sanctuary of family is one of the main sources of well-being throughout life.

Loving, healthy relationships provide emotional security and a sense of belonging. True “family” is one of the most important areas of our lives – an inner circle of people that we can trust and rely upon.

Pets also provide companionship, loyalty, and unconditional love, which are essential for our overall happiness. A family provides a sense of stability, which is so helpful in difficult life circumstances.

Because family is the foundation of our lives, having a strong, supportive family is important for our mental, physical, and emotional health.

Area 6 of Life: Money

Hand putting coins into series of glass jars with sprouts, showing financial growth.

Income, bills, retirement, investments and how we pay for things we need. Healthy money habits include setting and tracking financial goals, budgeting and tracking spending, practicing delayed gratification, saving for emergencies, and investing for retirement.

Patience and emotional control are essential when dealing with personal finances. A mature money mindset means viewing money as a tool to improve quality of life, build assets and for generous giving, rather than just short-term gratification.

Look at where you scored on the Wheel of Life for financial stability. Do you need to set specific goals for new skills in this important area?

Area 6 of Life: Purpose

Chalkboard sign: The purpose of life is a life of purpose.

This category includes personal growth, inspirational reading, education and service to others. It may be a combination of your professional life and personal goals – with a spiritual aspect, too.  

A sense of purpose is crucial for a healthy life balance. When we realize that “the good life” is about not about how much we can consume but how much we can contribute, we understand that “purpose” is the unique value that we bring into the world.

Purpose gives us direction, allows us to focus our energy and provides us with fulfillment. Without purpose, it can be difficult to find true happiness and stay motivated.

Everyone’s purpose is different, so it’s important to find your own in order to lead a more enriched life. Take a hard look at this area of life. Are you feeling fulfilled, or do you wish for a more inspired life?

Consider new goals that include personal development, leadership skills, or even new career choices. 

Area 7 of Life: Play

Happy couple playing as man pushes woman on a sled.

Rest, relax, repair, refresh, renew. If we don’t rest, play and bring lightness to life, we’re drowned by work, duty and responsibility.

Our bodies suffer with aches and illness. Stress levels skyrocket and our immune systems backfire. We get crabby, resentful and self-centered. We lose our joy.

Play lifts and celebrates, connects us with others and has no purpose but pleasure. Play is a necessary relief. It’s the helium in the balloon of life’s cares.

With rest and play, we recover from exhaustion, maintain and revitalize our physical and mental health. We have more energy to do what matters.

We take on new challenges with zest and optimism. We bring more joy and purpose to our lives, our families and our communities.

How to create new habits using the Wheel’s 7 areas of life

The Wheel of Life is great tool to help decide which new habits to form. After taking the Wheel of Life assessment, identify the areas of life that need attention. These will be the categories that scored lower on the Wheel than the others.

When forming a new habit, it’s good to start small so you don’t get overwhelmed. Habits are the “comfort zones” of behavior, so changing too many at one time is counterproductive; you’re just setting yourself up for failure.

Instead, choose one area you’d like to improve and then decide on one small change that would have an impact if you did it consistently.

Choose one area you’d like to improve and then decide on one small change that would have an impact if you did it consistently.

Can you show an example of creating a habit from one of the 7 areas of life?

Okay, here’s a small example from an area of MY life.

Reviewing the “Order” category on the wheel, I decided I wanted to improve the ongoing tidiness of our main bathroom. (You know – the one that guests see when they pop in unexpectedly.) One thing that drives me nuts is hard-water spots that build up on the faucet, mirror and sink almost overnight. They look so grimy and unwelcoming! Grrr!

Well, I was complaining discussing this with my sister, and she offered a solution. She suggested I use a hand towel to polish the faucet, mirror and sink every time I wash and dry my hands in the bathroom. So I started doing that.

And guess what? The faucet, mirror and sink are ALWAYS shiny and polished now. Always. It takes literally five seconds and has become such a quick, ingrained habit that I even do it in public restrooms and at other people’s houses. (Well, not the mirror, just in case I leave streaks. But I digress.)

The point is that just one tiny, simple habit can be easy to implement but still solve a major frustration. For example:

  • Do you continually lose your keys? Designate a place they belong, and then make a rule to always, ALWAYS put them there. (When not driving, mine are in my purse or on the wall hook.)
  • Scolded by your dental hygienist? Keep some dental floss close to your TV stand, and floss your teeth every night during your favorite TV show.
  • Dishes piled in the sink again? Load and start the dishwasher every night. Unload the clean dishes every morning. Make it a rule that dirty dishes aren’t allowed in the sink.

Fall in love with creating good habits. It’s fun and actually kind of addicting. Go you!

It’s time to start making new habits!

So there you have it. Consider these seven areas of life to focus on when creating good habits. If you’re feeling stuck and need some positive change, try building some new habits. It’s a great place to start and it will make a big impact.

Creating habits is a process, and it takes time and effort to see results. But if you’re patient and persistent, you’ll eventually develop the habits you want and see the changes you desire.

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