Jesus Take the Wheel: On Deliberate Reflection and Intention-Setting

I’m going to attempt to, from now on, choose a thematically related song’s title for my blog titles. Why? Mostly as a nod to Degrassi TNG (#LongLiveJTY) and partly because why not but really because that’s just what I’ve decided I’m going to do. At least for now. We’ll see how that goes.

So, for this blog’s title I’m referring to Carrie Underwood’s 2005 hit song that won her two Grammys and Single of the Year at the CMAs. Not only is it a top 100 song of all time for me, some of the themes of the song are similar to the themes of an exercise I recently did with my husband.

You see, he just completed a professional development program for people in the nonprofit and public sectors. After their last session he came home and pulled out our whiteboard, something I recommend having around your apartment/home if you have the space/money for one, and proceeded to walk me through this exercise he’d learned about at the session.

The first step is to draw a large circle then divide it into nine slices of pie. I could have just said “sections” but part of my psyche is trapped in second grade math. Was it first grade? I don’t know, I always see pie when I look at circles, especially if I have to divide the circles into…let me get back on track. Nine sections and each of the sections, or pie slices, blueberry, will be assigned a label: physical environment, career, money, health, family, friends, significant other/romance, personal growth, and fun/recreation.

The next step is to rate your relationship to each of those categories—oh my gosh, now I want to read Aristotle’s Categories again—on a scale from 1-10, 10 being complete satisfaction. On the line of the corresponding category you draw a filled in circle as if the physical scale from 1-10 is on that line.

Here’s a sample version of what I think Cersei Lannister’s would look like right now, like, where she currently is in her life at this point in the television series. So I can give an example of what to do visually.

Money, for Cersei, is up there at around 8/9, romance, family, and friends are all definitely lower than 4, career might be around a 6. . .

Then you connect the dots.

Now you ask yourself, “if this was a wheel, would it work well?” In my case, when I did the exercise the other night, the wheel may be able to turn but it would be really wobbly and awkward and, like, not a nice wheel.

The exercise is meant to help you visualize how balanced you’re feeling in your life and while I went into the exercise feeling kind of meh, I ended the exercise feeling really purpose-driven and introspective in a healthy way. I enjoyed it.

Now, next to the pie you then write down the words “Notes” and “Intentions” and under each you make observations and set REASONABLE intentions as they relate to your category ratings. In what areas should you be more proactive and in what ways can you achieve your desired changes? It’s not about perfection and no need for 10s across the board, it’s about balance and figuring out where you’re at according to your own value/judgment systems.

It was interesting going through this exercise with my partner. It stirred some lively and honest conversation and allowed us to talk about issues related to accountability, short- and long-term goals, healthy lifestyle changes, and more. It’s definitely an exercise I want to do monthly. It serves as an excellent point of departure for deep reflection whether alone or with someone else.

If you give it a try, tell me how it goes!

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