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Creative Career Path

Bring Your Life into Balance2011.12.19

    The coming of a new calendar year causes people to reflect on what they have done, and make resolutions on what they can do better in the coming year. Yet New Years Resolutions famously fail, because they only happen once a year, and are not a part of the daily calendar. It is not the yearly resolution, but the daily resolution that makes the difference.


    It is said that we overestimate what we can do in a year, and underestimate what we can do in a lifetime. In other words, we bite off more than we can chew, and then give up trying. Though water is soft, it has the power over time to carve a canyon because it keeps on flowing. Persistence brings power.


    Two things stand in the way of your achieving your goals as you imagine at the start.


    Organizing your Goals in a list


    Most people write their goals down in the form of a list. While this is a good way to get your thinking started, it is terrible way to organize your goals. The list has several disadvantages. It is linear and disconnected, and it can be stacked without limit. The longer the list, the less likely it is to get done. Moreover, on a list it is difficult to distinguish between broad statements of direction and specific actionable tasks. Breaking the broad statements into sub-tasks simply lengthens the list.


    This scenario is magnified when organized as a project on a Gantt Chart, where the list items become bars on a calendar, running a race in parallel, with deadlines and sub-tasks assigned, but no way to gauge if the tasks are feasible in terms of human resources. Moreover, this approach is extremely susceptible to logjams, where one person can hold up the whole project.


    Not allowing time for reflection and focused action


    The person most easily distracted from their own agenda is the one who fails to make time for reflection and focused action.


    Peter Drucker wrote on the importance of reflection: “Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action.” Rather than wake up and find that another year has slipped by, it is worth making a commitment to master this process in the coming year.


    A better way to organize, reflect, and act


    A more effective way to organize your Goals is to start with categories, organized on a matrix that enables you to see the whole and the parts at the same time.


    The Mandala Business Diary (マンダラ手帳) does this in a 3x3 matrix of 9 squares. The central square is for your mission or motto, which is surrounded by squares for the 8 major frames of life: Health, Business, Finances, Home, Society, Personal, Study, Leisure. The advantage of this approach over a linear list is that it beckons you to give balanced consideration to each category, rather than stacking your goals in one or two categories. Working in the limited space of a frame forces you to be focused, concise, and selective.


    In practice it is not possible to devote equal time, attention, and resources to each category. But by giving consideration to each category, it is possible to achieve a balance akin to a mobile. Some parts are bigger than others, all are needed to balance the whole composition, and everything is constantly in motion. The mobile is a beautiful and inspiring picture of life in balance.


    The Mandala Business Diary reinforces the importance of effective action and quiet reflection. It does this by displaying the week in a 3x3 matrix; the central frame is for the week's objectives and results, the surrounding 8 frames are for the 7 days of the week, and the 8th frame for reflection on weekly progress. It is printed in a bilingual format, and is available on


    Start your year by organizing your goals to bring your life into balance, then make it happen through thought and action.



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    Article Writer

    William Reed

    William Reed is a renowned author-speaker who coaches physical finesse and flexible focus for a creative career path. A certified Master Trainer in Guerrilla Marketing and 7th-dan in Aikido, he combines practical wisdom of East and West to help you learn personal branding at the Entrepreneurs Creative Edge.

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