As we head into the New Year, we commonly reflect on the past year and plan for the next 12 months. I wanted to share with you a tool that I have found to be useful not only in my personal life, but also in assisting patients with choices. This is a tool that I first read about in a book about neurolinguistic programming, and one that I understand many life coaches use when assisting people who want to assess various aspects of self or of life categories.
First, make a large circle on a piece of paper. Then divide it into "pie pieces" and label each piece of pie with a category. For example, if you wanted to get a sense of your personal satisfaction with your life, you might choose: spiritual practice, fitness, primary relationship, work, finances, and home improvement. List numbers from the center of the circle outward along the lines separating the category, you can use any range of numbers such as 1-5 or 0-10. Then score your rating for each category with the higher number being a positive rating. Let's say you self-score at least an 8 on all categories except for finances. If that is the case, you can then list a few tangible goals that relate to financial health with dates for achieving those goals. This type of wheel can be completed very quickly and in my experience it does not take much thought to score your sense of happiness within the various categories. If you focused this wheel on work/career, you might label the pieces as various aspects of evaluation, treatment, perhaps body parts, or even categories such as managerial tasks versus documentation. We are often balancing so many domains in our life that it is challenging to stay at a "10" with any one category for long; we are often giving of our energies to patients, to employers, to our families and children, and this leaves little time for our own self-care.
Many patients who present to our clinics our facing similar challenges. You may have met the patient who reports he or she is "falling apart" and does not know where to start, or who suffers from pain that limits sleep, work, and self-care, making it difficult to complete the 3 exercises we instructed last session. Perhaps your patient can be given a wheel of life assignment for a home activity, or it can be completed in the clinic. Once areas of dissatisfaction are identified, the patient can set goals towards improvement. If the wheel was designed to represent various environments that support or impair a patient's healing process, perhaps it could be sorted out that the work environment is where the patient feels resistance to follow-through with therapy concepts. This would allow you to help develop strategies towards improving that work environment in relation to rehab (such as an ergonomic eval, for example.) It may give another patient the opportunity to identify that her primary relationship is really struggling, therefore she does not truly want to return to intercourse with her partner due to these issues. If your home program of self-stretching or breathing, etc, is aligned towards physical intimacy with her partner, she may sabotage her home program and fail to progress. If she is able to make these connections as part of her pelvic rehabilitation, perhaps she will recognize that she wants to attend some counseling before continuing the physical rehabilitation process. My example is hypothetical, yet most of you could share similar stories about patients who are either overwhelmed by their life, or who are subconsciously resistant to your best efforts at rehabilitation because they are struggling with other more important issues.
I hope that you find this exercise useful in your own life. Sometimes I simply share the idea verbally with a patient, friend, or colleague and it is simple enough that the person can make a mental note to try it at a later time. I have found it very valuable to save the wheels in a notebook, re-assess and then see where progress has been made. Of course, the progress is usually made because goals were identified and efforts were made towards completing the goals. On behalf of the Herman & Wallace Pelvic Rehabilitation Institute, I wish you a very Happy New Year, and happy goal setting as well.