Have you ever taken your family on a road trip?
When our two children were ages 9 and 5, we packed up our purple Grand Voyager, and headed out on a 3 ½ hour trip to visit President Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello, in Charlottesville, VA.
If you are older than 35, you recall a time when the term “road trip” meant more than simply typing an address into your phone and following turn-by-turn directions.
It likely conjured up memories of deciphering large maps, using a highlighter to mark points of interest…and then struggling with the nearly impossible feat of folding the map back into its original shape.
After what seemed like 6 hours of countless “are we there yet?” questions from the back seat, we rounded the corner of Thomas Jefferson’s manicured estate…Monticello.
Our tour guide was an expert on all things related to President Jefferson. He knew all about his life, his work, and his passions. He showed us many fascinating features of the property, as well as some hidden gems we hadn’t thought about. He wanted us to gain the most from our visit.
Our guide showed us President Jefferson’s beautiful architecture of his home, that he designed and built, his many inventions like the dumbwaiter, macaroni making machine, the crops he grew in his garden to eat and sell, his ice house, his library, and how his family cooked and lived. It was a wonderful guided tour full of purpose and direction.
When we left there, my husband, Allan, and I were discussing how we would have enjoyed the visit if it were a self-guided tour; but the tour guide helped shed light on so much more than we could have imagined.
Our family still carries fond memories of this road trip. Who are you taking on your “road trip” through life? Where are you going? What legacy do you want to leave? We are all leaving a legacy…whether we want to or not. Are you leaving one intentionally or by chance?
There will be detours along the way. Some will fuel your soul…others will test your resolve. You may even find yourself asking for directions.
Whether you use paper maps, or rely on your phone to get you from point A to B…you must know where you currently are. Without that, directions are useless.
Personal development pioneer, Zig Ziglar recounts a story of when he was traveling across the country, giving speeches for free.
He began two hours early to make sure he would arrive a little early. He stopped for directions when he was lost. The person he asked drew a little map for him. He followed it and 45 minutes later he was further away from his destination. He then asked again and found his destination. Imagine if Zig Ziglar had given up after the first time.
When Zig Ziglar was going in the wrong direction and was again lost, he didn’t have a meltdown. Instead he asked again, and then again for directions until he found his destination.
How often do you check in with your goals to see if you are on track?
Are you willing to pivot when needed to change your destination?
Living a successful life is like a wheel. Imagine your car wheel having 7 spokes.
For this exercise, grab a sheet of paper and draw a small circle with 7 spokes leading away from it with 10 marks on the line. 1 is closest to the center, 10 is at the outer edge.
The First Spoke of your Wheel is the Mental spoke of your wheel:
Do you find yourself focusing on where you are going, or spend most of your time thinking about the “good old days”?
Do you read, listen to audios, and watch videos that help you stretch mentally?
Rate yourself from 1 to 10. (10 is the top).
2. Financial Spoke: Financially how are you doing?
Do you have a goal for income, spending, saving?
Do you tell your money where to go by using a budget, or do you get to the end of the month and wonder where your money went?
Do you have insurance? Do you have an emergency fund?
Rate yourself 1 to 10. No one sees this but you!
Do you feel connected to a higher power? Do you feel like you are fulfilling plans for a magnificent future? Are you living life on virtues?
Rate yourself 1 to 10.
4. Career/Professional: What are you doing to grow your stack of skills that will make you more marketable in the future? (If you are raising small children, that is more than a full time job, but you still need to grow in your skills as a parent).
A year from now is this where you want to be?
How is your attitude, effort, and skill?
Rate yourself 1 to 10.
5. Personal Life:
How are you taking care of yourself?
Do you make time to relax and rejuvenate, or are you constantly running from one thing to the next?
What hobbies bring you joy? (You may realize that you got away from doing things that brought you joy when life became busy. Pick up that guitar, paintbrush, or whatever else refreshes your soul. )
Do you get 7 hours of sleep each night? Do you fuel your body with real food, or do you cook out of a box? Do you drink enough water?
Are you working out?
Do you have good relationships with your family? Where do you feel you accel, and what do you need to work on? Most problems in any relationship are rooted in communication (or a lack thereof). It is easy to blame others…but you can’t change others. Own the situation and sharpen your communication skills.
Connect the dots. Does your diagram resemble a wheel, or does it look uneven?
Despite everyone wanting to show the world that they are perfect, we all realize that each of the areas in our lives are in constant transition. The outer edges of your circle have high points and low points.
You may be able to maneuver with a flat tire at 5 mph in a parking lot. What happens if you pull onto the highway of life? Things likely spin out of control.
Which of the 7 spokes of your wheel needs attention?
What is one thing you can do to improve the measure of that one spoke every day for the next 10 days? You will be amazed by the improvement that every day action steps can make!
There is a cost to leading a fulfilling life. There are only 24 hours in a day.
There are quite a few parallels between this wheel of life and Benjamin Franklin’s 13 virtues.
1. TEMPERANCE. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.
2. SILENCE. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.
3. ORDER. Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.
4. RESOLUTION. Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.
5. FRUGALITY. Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing.
6. INDUSTRY. Lose no time; be always employed in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.
7. SINCERITY. Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.
8. JUSTICE. Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
9. MODERATION. Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
10. CLEANLINESS. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes, or habitation.
11. TRANQUILITY. Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
12. CHASTITY. Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.
13. HUMILITY. Imitate Jesus and Socrates.
How did Franklin acquire these virtues?
“My intention being to acquire the habitude of all these virtues, I judged it would be well not to distract my attention by attempting the whole at once, but “to fix it on one of them at a time; and, when I should be master of that”, then to proceed to another, and so on, till I should have gone through’ the thirteen; and, as the previous acquisition of some might facilitate the acquisition of certain others, I arranged them with that view, as they stand above. Temperance first, as it tends to procure that coolness and clearness of head, which is so necessary where constant vigilance was to be kept up, and guard maintained against the unremitting attraction of ancient habits, and the force of perpetual temptations. This being acquired and established, Silence would be more easy; and my desire being to gain knowledge at the same time that I improved in virtue, and considering that in conversation it was obtained rather by the use of the ears than of the tongue, and therefore wishing to break a habit I was getting into of prattling, punning, and joking, which only made me acceptable to trifling company, I gave Silence the second place.”
This is exactly the way to repair each spoke of your wheel step by step like Benjamin Franklin mastered each of the 13 virtues!
So, what steps will you write down to repair the spoke of your wheel of life that needs attention?
Madeline Frank, Ph.D. is an Amazon.com Best Selling Author, speaker, Radio Show host, business owner, teacher, concert artist, and parent. She helps businesses and organizations “Tune Up their Business”. Her observations show you the blue prints necessary to improve and keep your business successful. Her latest book “Leadership On A Shoestring Budget” is available everywhere books are sold. To contact Madeline for your next speaking engagement or coaching at firstname.lastname@example.org