Monday, April 14, 2008

The Wheel of Character Development

So now I am 31 years old. Honestly, I felt the impact of turning 30 last year but this year I am not really fazed by my birthday. I do not feel any older. But I think more relevant is the fact that I feel my life is more balanced now than it was at the same time last year. Most years I am not really satisfied with my personal development or the choices I have made. I go back and evaluate my actions in my mind and usually although I am satisfied, I am never really convinced that I have gained perspective or improved myself in any significant way. So this year a friend told me about The Wheel of Character Development which I am applying to evaluate how I view my life now and to find out the direction I need to move in to improve it. Firstly you have to design the wheel, which is basically like a pie chart. You need to come up with all the elements of your life you want to evaluate and split the pie into that many pieces. I chose aspects of my life that are important to me and things that should be important to me but do not have a place in my life at this time. The categories I have selected are career, family, spirituality, hobbies, social service, health, and friends. Then you make rings in your whole pie splitting each section into 5 pieces. You will have to rate yourself in each category on a scale from 0-5 for your performance, 0 being the minimum and 5 maximum.

These are my results as I see them.

CAREER – I give myself a 4 here. This year I have given myself completely to my work. I am fully satisfied with my performance and results achieved this year, although I do always feel that I could give that little bit extra.

SPIRITUALITY – There were times in my life when I was really spiritual, when I was very young it was about going to temple and even praying, then when I got older it was more about reading about other religions and philosophies. I was actually looking for some answer or balance. Over the last 5 years or more I have just stopped giving a fuck about anything. I take for granted that I am agnostic and do not even explore or ponder ideas pertaining to spirituality anymore. When people talk about the subject I usually have nothing to add and loose interest very quickly. I am not saying that I want to be a more spiritual person, but I at least should be open to analyze my stance on the subject regularly. To see if the opinions and beliefs I have formed still stand true against the way I choose to live my life. I would only give myself a 2 here because I do not think about spirituality much and in all honestly I should, but I am still satisfied with the fact that it does not play a major role in my life. This is something that will probably change as I get older.

HOBBIES – This category covers everything from private projects, to writing, reading, watching movies, and blogging. These are all things I enjoy doing in my spare time. My goal is to do all these things in a balanced way and the question I am asking myself here is, am I giving sufficient time to all these things? I have to give myself a 3 here. I have managed to complete my movie project in 4 months as I had planned but there are so many other projects I have in mind that I just have not taken any steps forward with. I want to start working with stop motion animation and start photographing bridges in China, both of which are relatively easy to start but they have not gotten off the ground yet. My blogging has also become more irregular but now that I have moved out to my own place I have a room dedicated to nurturing ideas. So I hope my performance here will improve heavily over the next year.

SOCIAL SERVICE – I give myself a flat out ZERO here. For so many years I have tried to donate to charities or get out once a month to work with underprivileged or disabled kids but I have never gone the whole 9 yards. There were periods when I donated food to monasteries and even delivered rice to orphanages in Jakarta, but there has never been regular participation from my side. Social Service is an area where I want to make changes immediately.

HEALTH – Maybe I can actually give myself a 2 here because I managed to quit smoking cigarettes last year. But I have gradually increased my smokage of other substances. The intake of alcohol has also seen a steady rise. At the moment I do NO physical activity on a regular basis. So if I were to be brutally honest, I should only give myself a 1.

FRIENDS – This area covers everything social. I am not in a romantic relationship right now or else that might have featured as a separate category on my chart. By friends I am talking about how much time I spend hanging out with my mates, keeping up with old friends, steadily meeting new people, and looking for love in all the wrong places. Ideally I think I should only give this area of my life a 3, but right now I am way more social than I should be. I am out nearly every weekend and if I am going to dedicate any time to the things I feel I should be doing, this is the area that could afford to see a little less action.

FAMILY – Next to career this is the most important category for me. I could just push the both of these up to 5’s over the next year I would be happy. Although some of my family members may not agree with my self evaluation in this area I will have to give myself a 4. It may seem to them that I do not give them all the energy and time I could but the truth of the matter is that being with my family can be emotionally taxing. It is fine when there is not a lot on the plate but balancing time between work and family is a very delicate matter. Obviously I am nowhere close to being good at this but I will get there.

So there we have it, My Wheel of Character Development. Now when you look at the wheel, it should look like a well formed wheel. A full circle represents a well balanced life. The wheel being well aligned is a metaphor for you being able to roll through life smoothly on round wheels. Missing sections symbolize bumps and a rough road ahead. So looking at this wheel I can come to the conclusion that I should give a little less time to my career, family, and friends and focus a little more energy on my hobbies, health, and social service. This should bring me to a 3 on all categories of my chart. Once my wheel is well aligned I can then focus on steadily bringing myself to a 5 in all areas. It has been suggested to perform this self analysis on a weekly basis but I think a quarterly assessment would be much more fruitful. The changes you make have to take shape within your life before they can effectively change you. I might even perform something like this just 2 times a year. Is it essential for personal growth for one to perform self evaluations? I think so. It does not have to be a written evaluation in this form but I think it is critical for individuals to reflect on their lives and feel some sense of growth or reform. Otherwise we are just chasing death.

*UPDATE - This is to remind me when I look back at this post while re-evaluating myself some day that I need to add to my list somthing to do with being more eco friendly. Saving the planet and shit like that.

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