April 28, 2018

My monthly check-in for maintaining a balanced “lifescape”

Mountain valley during sunrise. Natural summer landscape.

I came across the word “lifescape” while listening to a podcast called This is Fifty. For anyone interested in consciously creating the second half of life, I highly recommend listening to Sheri Salata (Oprah’s former executive producer) and her friend, Nancy Hala, tackle rebranding midlife as they live their dreams and become their best selves.

In the second episode, Sheri discusses what she thinks of as her “lifescape” (the landscape of her life) which consists of five pillars: health and wellness, spirituality and happiness, romance and sex, friends and family, and creativity and innovation (which is the way Sheri and Nancy have reinterpreted “work” or “career”).

In Co-Active Coaching, we use a tool called the Wheel of Life, which has 8 different categories, to get a picture of how satisfying a client’s life currently is. This exercise gives the client a visual for how balanced the different parts of their life really are, or aren’t, and can be a good starting point for what they want some coaching on.

Late last year, I realized that some parts of my life were thriving and others were looking a little bit flat. If it was a landscape it would have had some beautiful mountains with some dry flatlands mixed in.

I decided that instead of waiting until the end of the year to take stock and come up with goals for the new year, I would do that at the end of every month.

It’s been working well and keeps me on track and accountable to myself about how I want to spend my time and energy versus how I really am spending my time and energy.

What follows is the system I’ve been using since January. If you’re interested in trying it out, of course, it can be tweaked to suit your priorities and needs. You could use the Notes app or a Google sheet on a phone or computer, or a journal. I chose a journal because I already have a journalling habit so it was the easiest for me to integrate.

At the end of each month I take a two-page spread in my journal and dividing each page into two columns — a narrow one on the left and a wider one on the right — I write out the categories that are important to me down the left-hand side of each page. I keep them consistent from month to month.

Then, on the right-hand side, I list the activities that I did that month that add richness to each area or category. For example, under friends and family, I note any outings, significant phone calls, celebrations, or important connections that happened that month. I use my calendar to help me keep track of activities and milestones so I’m not strictly relying on my memory. If there isn’t a lot to note, then I know I need to add some friend and family goals to the following month.

I rate each category on how satisfactory it was and once I’ve done this for each category, I reflect on those areas that got lower ratings and think about what I can do to give those more focus. From there I write down my goals for the next month.

Let’s say I rate myself a lower in the health category, I might make it a goal to cut down on sugar, or get 8 hours of sleep every night.

Then, and this is the critical part for me, I go into my calendar for the following month and schedule in whatever it is that I want more of and if it involves other people, I reach out and try to make plans. I book appointments, make dates, schedule classes, etc. Because, If it doesn’t make it into my calendar then there is a good chance I will forget all about it.

And that’s it! Twenty-minutes to half an hour of reflection and planning once a month and I’m getting more of what I really want instead of filling my time with whatever is coming at me.

I’m able to keep myself on track with what I need to feel balanced. That doesn’t mean that every month is a smooth ride around the wheel. Obviously sometimes life gets out of balance in ways I can’t control. But this practice helps me keep readjusting where necessary. And it keeps me accountable to myself from month to month instead of just once at the end of the year when I’ve already long forgotten what it was I wanted to achieve in January.

What do you see when you look at your current “lifescape”? Let me know in the comments below or let’s connect and chat about it in person!

Sara Smeaton Coaching SS-177 Photo by Marina Dempster
Hi, I'm Sara!

I'm here to reclaim the term 'midlife' and embrace the power these years offer us.

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  1. Tosh on June 22, 2018 at 7:06 AM

    This sounds like a great idea, I’m going to try it and think of you every time! (I’ll put a recurring event in my eDiary ?)

    • Sara Smeaton on June 22, 2018 at 9:58 AM

      I’m glad you like it, Tosh! Great idea to put in right into your calendar!! I’d love to hear how it goes. 🙂

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Sara Smeaton Coaching SS-177 Photo by Marina Dempster


Sara Smeaton

Sara Smeaton is a certified professional coach and facilitator who helps midlife women follow their dreams after forty. She works privately with clients in Canada, the US and the UK.

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