Whenever I take my car for servicing, the service staff always checks a complete list of items to ensure that all of the vital parts of the car are in working order. Even if my concern is limited to a particular part of the car or if I simply want my oil changed, those responsible for keeping my car in working order insist upon checking everything on their list. They understand that if the entire car is not functioning properly, the one part that may be having difficulty may just be the proverbial “tip of the iceberg.” I have learned to allow them to take much more time than I had planned to check my entire car every few thousand miles.
I have learned that this same approach is useful in my life. If my car needs a complete check up on a regular basis, then my life deserves at least what my car deserves. I will probably not have my car for the rest of my life but I will have my life for the rest of my life! So I have been giving my whole life a check regularly.
This sounds a bit overwhelming and at first it was for me. But I was making the mistake of trying to improve my life by focusing only on the area of my life that had the greatest need. That seemed to make so much sense. But what I learned was that while the area of need was getting all of the attention, the areas that seemed to have had very little need were getting no attention at all. By the time I had fixed the needy area, some other area was in need. And the cycle seemed to never end.
I spend most of my spare time helping people understand and improve their financial condition. And the first objective is always to get out of debt. As long as I was drowning on debt, I could never save, invest or donate money. But simply focusing on finances is really not an effective way to solve our financial challenges. We have to consider every aspect of our lives.
I ultimately discovered that the best strategy was to invest in setting goals and improving my whole life rather than just the one area that gave me the most concern. This meant that I had to organize my life into a checklist of areas and have a plan for each. The system that I have embraced divides my life into five categories that capture the elements of my complete life. Those categories are: 1. Personal; 2. Intellectual; 3. Vocational; 4. Financial; 5. Spiritual.
To address one of these areas without working on the others is to develop unbalanced life. The entire checklist guarantees that I am building a complete life. As we proceed this month, I will help you build a complete life using this summary of life.
1. Make a general list of the areas of your life that are important to you.
2. Assign each of the items on your list to one of the five categories that I mentioned.
3. Identify which items are the ones that you will address this month.