Where do you find life?

I had a chat with my spiritual director yesterday and the first question he asked me was:  Where do you find life?  We had a good long conversation which began with some storytelling and then gave way to a few tears on my end of the cell phone.

I find life in some projects that I’m working on now… in my relationships with family and friends… in silence and solitude.  Not in that order.

Then later in the day I started giving more context to our conversation and framing it in a new question:  What gives my life meaning?

The Mojo Grid

I can’t take credit for the originality of this picture or thought… only share my version of it with you.  This comes from Marshall Goldsmith in his new book called Mojo:  How to Get It, How to Keep It, How to Get It Back If You Lose It.  The previous day I had listened to him live on a webinar hosted by G5 Leadership (check out both those links) which is why the two questions… Where do you find life? and What gives my life meaning? … connected in me.

A  little explanation…

This tool from Goldsmith’s book gives us a picture that helps us figure out some answers.  The big question to think about is this:  Where are you living in this grid?

Surviving… these are the activities that score low on happiness and low on meaning… typically called “chores” but things we have to do just to get by … aka, cleaning the bathroom, paying the bills, raking the leaves.

Stimulating… these things we do give us some short-term happiness but really don’t give much meaning to life… they tend to be distractions rather than providing some tangible benefit… I’m putting Angry Birds / Tetris / television / movies / Facebook, etc. here.  Not bad in and of themselves, but to spend too much time here takes away from doing something really meaningful.

Sacrificing… here are the things that we know we should do but it’s hard to get motivated to do… like exercising or eating healthier… maybe even praying or going back to church… in the short-term they’re probably not what we wish were doing but we know in the long-run it will be beneficial.

Sustaining… this group of activities gives us an increasing sense of happiness and meaning… we don’t mind spending time here because it feels worthwhile… like reading for personal growth or to improve our careers… taking care of household projects… going to social events and gatherings.

Succeeding… these are the things that we love to do and give us great benefit when we do them.  They give us both happiness and meaning and they drive us to be our very best selves.  Nothing feels like sacrifice or survival… instead we seek out opportunities to do these things more often.

So where do you live?

A little homework for you…

  1. Make a list of activities and put them in each of the five categories.  Try to be honest and objective.  No one has to see this except you.
  2. Next… put a % percentage number for each of the categories according to the amount of time you give in a day, i.e., how much time do you spend on activities that fall into the Surviving box?  How much in the Stimulating box? and so on.  The total should add up to 100%.
  3. Then draw a big circle around each % percentage number and look at the whole.  Ask yourself:  Where are you living?  Where are you putting most of your time?

And here’s the kicker question… Are you satisfied with that?

Change You or Change It

There’s really only two sides of a coin… If you’re not happy with where you’re living on this Mojo Grid then… change you or change it… whatever the It is in your life.

Change is hard and we are conditioned to go with inertia… which means staying right where we are even if we’re not entirely happy.  The reason to change is to find out what gives your life meaning.

That is work that falls into the Succeeding category… this is where you want to live.


About Elaine Menardi

Heading off on a new adventure! I solve problems and make ideas happen.

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