The Four Areas of Life
“Most of life’s battles are won or lost in the mind.” - Craig Groeschel, Soul Detox
Everyone lives with one of the two following fundamental perspectives. Occasionally, we might sway between the two, but everyone has a clear leaning to one or the other. You can discover which of the two you lean towards by assessing the quality of your decision-making, which is the greatest indicator of your preference between the two perspectives.
The first perspective sees life as generally disconnected. This means living as if actions taken today will have little to no impact on life tomorrow; or worse, failing to see that actions in one area of life could have lasting consequences in the others. This perspective usually leads to being surprised by the impact of yesterday’s actions and decisions on today’s experience.
A prime example of this is the individual who is unfaithful to their budget but is still surprised when they are financially handicapped by the end of each month. They fail to make the connection between their action and the consequences. In their mind, the two are mutually exclusive.
The second perspective sees all of life as connected… very connected. It recognizes that a person cannot truly reach goals in one area of life in total isolation from the rest of life. Subsequently, this perspective encourages a far more intentional approach to life and personal growth — a winning perspective.
A great example of this is seen in those who meal prep. They recognize that the demands of their relationships and fullness of their schedule will not allow them to remain disciplined during the week. So in order to enjoy their relationships and honor their busy schedule while reaching their goal of maintaining a certain diet, they plan and prepare ahead. It’s all connected.
This kind of intentionality is vital if you want to not just reach a goal, but be the kind of person who can reach any goal you set. The good news is that regardless of the perspective you’ve had up to this point, you can teach yourself the winning perspective and begin to change your life for the better. This process starts by understanding the four areas of life.
All of life is connected. You have the power to start writing your tomorrows, today.
THE FOUR AREAS OF LIFE
Grasping the connectedness of life begins with identifying and understanding the different pieces of it. There are four areas of life and within each of these areas, there are relationships, responsibilities, and desires that, together, shape us and our lifestyles. Clarity regarding the four areas is a powerful catalyst in forming a winning perspective.
The first area is your personal life. This area of life includes anything that has to do with you alone on a personal level. For example, your physical health, spiritual growth, and intellectual development would be in this area. While you may interact with others when engaged in these things, they are fundamentally your responsibility and no one else’s.
The second area is your family life. This area includes any familial relationships and responsibilities. We all carry roles in the categories of parent, spouse, sibling, child, etc. Each of which requires something of us to an immediate or extended relative.
The third area is your social life. This area includes friends, mentors, volunteer work, and other social circles that aren’t career or family related. Personally, I’ve also found it to be one of the hardest areas to plan for.
The fourth and final area is your career life, which reflects life at work. If you’re a student, this is where you include your academic career aspirations. Depending on your age and stage of life, this can secretly become one of the most demanding areas without realizing it and the same can be said about your social life as well.
The winning perspective depends on being able to see each of these areas clearly as you plan and make decisions. Honoring their connectedness upfront can save you from having to repair the potential damage from living in their disconnect.
SEEING THE CONNECTEDNESS
In boxing, they say the punch that knocks you out is the one you don’t see coming. This is true in life as well, especially in pursuing your goals. For example, have you ever set a goal like losing 20 lbs., only to watch how the rest of your life immediately become obstacles to that goal?
Your work schedule suddenly leaves no extra time for gym appointments, there’s a noticeable spike in coffee dates and dinner party invitations, and your mom spontaneously decides to leave you a container of your favorite homemade meal. It is almost as if those other areas of your life never existed before that goal lodged itself into your mind and your heart.
The truth is, as you probably already guessed, those other areas of life were always there, you just didn’t see their connectedness. As previously mentioned, seeing all of life as connected is about keep all four areas in mind as you make decisions and take action. This is especially important as you consider what you want for your future through the goals you set for yourself.
Being mindful of the four areas as you set your goals will allow you to anticipate potential obstacles before you even begin your journey. By doing this, you give your brain a heads up on what’s coming and on how to best prepare for it. In other words, with a connected perspective, you can learn to anticipate many of life’s punches.
WHEN LIFE IS DISCONNECTED
Losing balance is often a direct result of a disconnected perspective of life. The disconnectedness causes us to lose track of one or more of the four areas, and this oversight is what allows the overlooked areas to build up potential deficiencies until they hit a point of crisis. Losing balance happens easily and it is hard to repair when you do.
A young mom, for example, who becomes hyper-focused on her Family Life can easily lose track of her Personal Life or Social Life. This happens by repeatedly sacrificing personal time for the sake of the family. Over time this could lead to severe issues with her physical health and mental health.
What’s worse is what happens if this goes unnoticed for too long. Eventually, this mom could hit a point of crisis in one of the overlooked areas of life. The crisis would force her to halt progress in the areas she is passionate about in order to bring the overlooked areas back to a point of health. This is a lesson I learned the hard way.
WHEN I LOST BALANCE
December of 2017 was the first time I experienced a serious crisis as a result of a disconnected perspective in life. The January before, I accepted the position of Student Ministry Pastor at my home church and I was elated. I would be doing something I love and was passionate about with people who I love. My time in this position is something I would not trade for the world, and it taught me many things, including what I am about to share with you.
I came into the position knowing that there was much work to do in the student ministry department and I had a robust plan to match the demand. Wasting no time, I hit the ground running, working meticulously the entire year through my three-phase plan of establishing a healthy foundation for ministry to young adults and teens. Countless hours were invested in restructuring my team, our goals, our culture, and our partnership with local schools.
In between meeting with mentors, students, leaders, and parents I committed to preparing a weekly message, sometimes more on special occasions. While all of this activity was prefaced with and born from prayer, there was still a fundamental flaw in my work — I lost track of my Personal and Family Life in different ways.
By the time December arrived, I was exhausted but too busy to notice. My body, however, did not overlook my poor self-care. Additionally, I was emotionally drained as a result of spending very little time with my family, which usually refills me. My highly awaited weeklong Christmas break was riddled with anxiety, exhaustion, and bouts of depression that I had never experienced before. Something had to change and I knew I had to be the one to change it.
I still loved what I did, and my position allowed me flexibility in managing my schedule, so I knew immediately that the change I needed was internal. Much of what you will read in the remainder of this book is a direct result of the journey that ensued following that alarming Christmas break. Like you, my journey started with returning to the connectedness of life.
EXERCISE - SEEING THE CONNECTION
Here are a few exercises to help you bring the four areas of your life into focus so you can see their connectedness. Use the companion workbook to complete these and other exercises which will set you up for the next chapter.
1. List your six most significant responsibilities for each area of life. Doing this will help you bring maximum clarity to your life’s connectedness. This is not only helpful for seeing with clarity, but it’s also very helpful for goal setting.
2. On a separate list, identify the three most significant people for each area of life. A part of seeing life as connected is recognizing that there are always key people attached to your goals. I call them priority people. For example, if your goal is to lose weight but your wife does all the cooking, then it would be foolish to overlook her.
3. If you haven’t created any goals yet, dream big and write four goals for each area of life. Sometimes just seeing everything as clearly as you should now, helps to reveal where changes are most needed in your life. Be brutally honest and dare to dream big.
Bonus: Power Goals - A power goal is a goal that has an impact across multiple areas of life. For example, introducing daily exercise to your life can improve your health, give you more energy for time with your family, and potentially improve your productivity at work. Aiming for Power Goals will set you up to go further faster.
4. If you’ve already created a set of goals, assign each one to the area of life they’re associated with. Are all of your goals in one or two areas of life? Considering your other responsibilities, are your goals realistic for your schedule or current season of life? Be brutally honest.
While this list isn’t exhaustive, it will help you to bring clarity to the connectedness of your life without overwhelming you. Take your time to work through the exercises and think thoroughly through each area of life. Once completed, start the next chapter.