Defining your best life and actually getting there

Have you ever felt like you’d like to do more or do something differently with your life, but it seemed like too big a problem or too audacious an idea to actually attempt it?

In her surprisingly helpful book A Whole New You: Six Steps to Ignite Change for Your Best Life, Brett Blumenthal offers a well-distilled, easy to implement track for breaking down your vague feelings of ennui into an actual plan of achievable steps for making your goals a reality.

I’m a fan of goal setting and if you’ve followed A Spirited Mind for long you know I read heavily in this whole life management genre.  The information in A Whole New You is not actually all that ground-breaking.  In fact, the author quotes liberally from other time and life management books that I’ve also read and enjoyed.  But somehow Blumenthal’s approach clicked for me in some really helpful ways.

The book begins with exercises that might be familiar to you if you read this sort of book often.  For example:

  • Actually put words to your unspoken dreams and goals so that you don’t waste your life living out other people’s dreams and goals for you – I feel like I’ve been unpacking that task for about a decade now, but am getting towards done at long last!
  • Boil down what is really important to you and why – Having to add the “and why” part helps to show you which things are really important to you and which are important to other people but aren’t that central to you.
  • Identify a handful of concrete strengths and weaknesses – Blumenthal defines this well.  She describes strengths as things you are good at that don’t require much effort for you, but which you enjoy so much they put you in the zone of happy productivity, and weaknesses as things you either aren’t good at, or are good at but frustrate and annoy you.  

Next, the book digs a big deeper on common questions, not just asking what you’re passionate about or what you want to have accomplished when you’re 80, but digging into angles that help you to identify things you value that you may overlook, or asking questions in a way that reveal priorities you hadn’t applied.

For me, the most helpful part of A Whole New You was the section on how to “Map the Gap” between the current state of your life and the life you’d like to be leading.

First, I found it astounding that after doing the other exercises in the book, I was able to quickly outline my “ideal tomorrow” life.  Because I had put in the time to identify the things that are really and ultimately important to me, the type of legacy I want to leave, and the values that I prioritize, I didn’t waste space on things that would be nice but not required to make me happy.  Instead, I came up with a short list of tasks and roles that would really inspire and invigorate me and give me the satisfaction of working toward life goals.

Second, the idea of mapping the gap – seeing the space between where I am now and where I want to be and identifying what it would take to bridge that space, helped me to see how even small tweaks could make a huge difference in my life.

The good news is, I am actually doing a lot of things in line with my goals and values.  But in some cases, I just hadn’t taken them to the next level, or hadn’t considered new ways to solve problems.

The mapping the gap exercise gave me some great concrete ideas for moving forward in a few key areas, and gave me hope that I could make some really helpful changes even over the next few months.

The book contains a wealth of information and helpful exercises beyond the scope of what I could cover in a review.  I think most people would be well served from reading through the book and then going back through the exercises as the author suggests (that’s the way I did it, as part of how I take notes on what I read).

Whether you have a major gap between the life you’re living and the life you want, or whether you just need to make a few tweaks to maximize your feeling of progress toward your life goals, I’d highly recommend A Whole New You as an easy to read, easy to customize approach for thinking deeply and concretely about your life.


Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

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