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Creating your “Encore” Life Part 2

Mark Jaeger
Mark Jaeger
COO and Shareholder

Part Two of Weekly Three Part Series started 6/14/19.

Part 2 – The Encore Wheel of Life

In Part 1 of this 3-part series, we looked at life’s stages, and some of the common experiences and changes people go through during each of life’s four “quarters.” This led to the idea of an “Encore Life,” a bonus period of life for personal growth, experiences and enjoyment.

The concert has not ended; the audience is so happy with the performance that they cheer for an encore – expecting to hear the best, most famous songs.

An Encore Life begins during, and is an extension of, the 3rd quarter of life (age 50-75).  It is possible in large part because of the “longevity bonus” — extra years of life that most adults today can look forward to, and during which they can lead healthier and more active lives than prior generations. 

This should be a time of newfound freedom and flexibility.  But it is also a time for rediscovering who we are, and what we want to do next, with the considerable time we may have left.

The Encore Wheel of Life is a tool that will help you assess your level of satisfaction for the 10 areas of life that most people find meaningful and that research has shown lead to a fulfilling life.  We will call each area or category a “life domain.”  This is a “living” instrument, with each life domain to be self-defined by you so that it is whatever is meaningful and makes sense to you. This is a flexible tool that should be individualized to your life.  If one of these life domains does not resonate with you and another one is more compelling – make that change. 

Scoring is intended to measure your level of satisfaction for each life domain. Each domain is scored on a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being “not at all satisfied” and 10 being “highly satisfied.”  Circle the number that best reflects your current level of satisfaction for each domain.  For example, if you have little desire to be involved in your community and you are, in fact, not involved, then your level of satisfaction in this area may be high.  If you have a strong desire to mend or build family relationships, then your current level of satisfaction may be low.  Again, these domains are defined by you.  Here are a few suggestions or “thought-starters” if you need some help.

  1. Self-Discovery/Awareness – Take some time for reflection; ask yourself questions about who you are and what you want to do in the next stage of your life.  Are you in touch and happy with who you are and where you’re going?  Are you growing and expanding your horizons?
  2. Health & Wellness – “When you have your health, you have everything.  When you don’t have your health, nothing else matters.” Find the time to prioritize and spend increasing attention and energy on your physical, mental/cognitive, emotional and spiritual health, including diet and nutrition, fitness and exercise. This is your most important investment – the bigger the investment, the bigger the reward.
  3. Money & Finance — Money cannot buy happiness, but it can provide a great deal of peace of mind if you have put the time and effort into developing and documenting a Financial Plan. This category includes retirement income planning, estate and philanthropic planning, planning for Social Security, Medicare, long-term care and managing healthcare costs. Unless this is a personal passion for you, do your homework and hire a trustworthy financial advisor/financial planner who is not only technically competent, but also listens and cares about your personal well-being.
  4. Relationship with Partner — Does your life include a special and loving relationship with another person?  This is someone who you can tell your secrets to and know they will be kept. It is someone you look forward to spending time with, and you smile when you think of them.
  5. Relationships with Family & Friends – It is important to have a strong support network and social interaction with others you care about, and to be a caring supporter to others. These types of relationships do wonders for your health and outlook on life.
  6. Personal Growth & Lifelong Learning – Even as you age, life should continue to be a learning process, where you maintain and develop relevant skills and abilities in order to continue doing meaningful work, or you learn new skills for personal reinvention, reward and achievement.
  7. Career & Work – Do you feel good about the work you are doing? Are you heading in a satisfying direction? A great deal of self-worth comes from being productive.  Do something you love, and you’ll never work another day in your life. This could include continued career growth, career change, career transition, and/or part-time work to earn money, either because you need to or because you enjoy it and want to.
  8. Community & Civic Engagement – This is about giving back to your community through involvement in civic, cultural, religious and/or service organizations that you feel close to and strongly about. There is a great need for help and leadership in many local and national non-profit organizations.  Making a difference can be a very rewarding experience.
  9. Leisure & Recreation – What do you do for fun? This could include travel, entertainment, creative activities, hobbies, and however else you enjoy your free time. If you smile or laugh while doing it – do it more often.
  10. Lifestyle & Housing/Environment – This typically involves where you currently live and your surrounding environment. Are you comfortable in your home and community? Entering the retirement years, this might include a transition from living in your current home to downsizing, whether to a smaller home or into a retirement community. It may be near the city for entertainment and services, or out in the country in the fresh air and away from the hustle and bustle.

Once you have decided which number on the Wheel to circle for each life domain, resist the temptation to start analyzing your lowest scores.  Instead, focus on your highest scores first, where you are presumably most satisfied.  Think about what is happening (or not happening) in an area that causes you to feel good about this domain.

What can you learn from your higher rated domains that you can apply to lower rated ones?  What would it take to raise your satisfaction scores just one point?  Be creative.  Try to think openly about the many things that could cause you to increase your scores.  Write down as many as you can. There will be plenty of time to eliminate ideas that prove to be impractical.

If you have a partner, complete this exercise independently of each other and then, when completed, compare notes. Can you each empathize with the others perspective and point of view?  Can they add perspective to your point of view and you to theirs?  Are there significant gaps or disconnects between your two scores that are worth talking about?

This exercise may show how unbalanced your life actually is.  That is not unusual.  Some people strive for a balanced life across all domains at the same time.  Others prefer to focus on one or two that are more important to them than the others.  Indeed, having a balanced life across domains may not be your primary objective.  In that case, prioritizing the domains in order of importance to you may be a more meaningful exercise.  Over time, however, research supports the idea that people are more satisfied with life when they address multiple life domains and have what most people consider a balanced life.

The Encore Wheel of Life

Level of Satisfaction

What You Value/How You Act

Below you will find a second Encore Wheel of Life.  This time, the scoring is intended to measure which domains you value the most and the extent to which your actions are consistent with what you think is important.  Each domain is again scored on a scale from 1 to 10, and you’ll pick two numbers for each domain:

WHAT I VALUE:

10 = “Extremely important”

1 = “Not at all important”

HOW I ACT:

10 = “My actions have been completely consistent with this value”

1 = “My actions have been completely inconsistent with this value”

Complete the value/actions ratings in different colors, letters or symbols so that it is easy to see and measure the gaps between what is important to you (what you value) and how your actions support (or not) that life domain.  For example, if you are deeply concerned about global warming and are a passionate environmentalist, there will be a gap if you also drive a large gas guzzling, pollution-producing SUV.

Again, couples should first do their own, and then compare and discuss them together.  How does your behavior need to change in order for your actions to better reflect your values?

What is The Next Step?

In the upcoming Part 3, the final installment in this series, we will begin to put these principles to practical use through the goal setting process. This should help move your levels of satisfaction higher. 

Your scores on both versions of the Wheel of Life will (and should) change over time, as you progress through goal setting and the achievement of those goals.  By periodically updating your scores, you will be able to see the areas in which you have made progress and those that need further attention.

Make sure and give yourself a reasonable amount of time to make meaningful progress before re-evaluating your Wheels.  You might consider re-evaluation as an annual event, e.g., on your birthday, wedding anniversary or end of each calendar year.  It is a great way to create a clearer perspective for what you want to accomplish in the year ahead.  In addition, recognizing and acknowledging the progress you have made will reinforce your efforts, and will provide added momentum to continue moving forward…toward the life and future you desire.

The Encore Wheel of Life

What You Value/How You Act

Part Three next week or to learn more about the Encore Wheel of Life tool and read the complete three part series, click here.

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