Each quarter I take at least half a day to process how life is going.

I try to get away to maybe a park or a lake and think about the different areas of my life; my family, work, finances, my health, my relationships, my spiritual life. I read some, journal some, pray some, and think about the future.

I usually ask three basic questions around those areas.

  1. Where am I now?
  2. Where would I like to be?
  3. What are the next steps to get me there?

I try not to overcomplicate it. I just want to process progress made and think about my desires moving forward.

As I evaluate, I write out how I’m doing and what I want to happen in my life over the next quarter or year. In many cases, something needs to be changed (or at least tweaked) to get the results I desire.

That’s life right? It’s continually tweaking the systems of our lives to produce something we want. The question becomes; how do we master these core areas of life?

Is there a simple way to think about adjusting the systems of my life to help push me towards the results I really want?

The Three Keys

There are actually three keys that I feel are necessary not only to change the direction of something in my life but to keep it that way.

You need all three of them whether you want to change a relationship with your child or be more effective budgeting your money. You need them when you want to save money to buy a house and coach your leadership team more effectively at work.

I believe you need all three of them to master the core areas in life. They really are keys to mastering the fundamentals (they work for your business too).

You need a framework, a cadence, and a tool.

First, you need a framework.

When I say framework, I mean a way of thinking about something….a paradigm.

Here’s an example. Let’s say you and your spouse want to budget your money more effectively.

That’s a great first step - but you need a big picture way to view your money. How are you going to think about your money?

Are you going to be a Dave Ramsey person? Dave teaches that debt is dumb and cash is king. He has a framework to help you think about money. Maybe you don’t like Dave. Are you going to be a ‘be your own banker’ type of person and rather than get rid of all debt (like Dave recommends) leverage that debt to reach your financial goals?

Both are valid ways to do things - people have been successful with both. Regardless of the path you choose, having a paradigm or a framework to think about something is critical. It helps you think strategically and make long-term planning decisions based on principles and not just what feels good in the moment. It provides the rails to help your thinking and keeps you on the path.

You need a framework for your business, your health, your money and all the other fundamental areas of life. The first key to mastering the fundamentals in life is developing a framework for that area.

Next, you need a cadence or a rhythm.

The budget example is an easy illustration here. If you get paid monthly, it’s probably a good idea to have a monthly cadence of budgeting and monthly money evaluation. If you get paid weekly, you may mix that up a bit. If you get paid big commission checks quarterly, you may need to have a more robust quarterly evaluation to make sure you are saving the right amount of money to last a while.

You need to establish a cadence to plan, measure and evaluate what you are trying to accomplish. That cadence should be based on your normal rhythms of life.

I coach businesses to have an annual, quarterly, and weekly rhythm. It provides simple, clear built-in opportunities to stay both disciplined and agile at the same time. Are there other cadences a business could follow? Of course - it’s just one that I’ve found works for most small to mid-sized businesses.

The second key to mastering a fundamental area of life is a cadence. We all need them to keep us on track.

Finally, if you want to master any fundamental area of life, you need a tool.

Let’s go back to the budget example one more time. Now that you have a way of thinking about your money and you know when you will evaluate how you are doing, what’s left is a practical tool to help you pull it off.

I have friends that use google spreadsheets to track and plan their monthly budget. I have others that use really cool online tools like mint.com. In either case, you have a practical tool to help you execute the plan. The plan is based on the framework you’ve chosen and evaluated on the cadence that makes sense for that area.

You need all three to master a fundamental area of life (or business). You need a framework, a cadence, and a tool. If you try to make changes without one of those three, there’s a good chance it will fail over time.

Without a framework, you turn into the yo-yo dieter who doesn’t understand long-term health and is only worried about the number on the scale at the moment.

Without a cadence, you become inconsistent and may wait too long to make the changes necessary to get the results you want.

Without a tool, you can’t execute your plan. There are lots of great tools out there for every core area of life and business. Pick one. Use it. Execute your plan.

At Congruence, we teach small to mid-sized business a clear framework and cadence, as well as give them to practical tools to get what they want out of their business.

This way of thinking helps you simplify, systemize, and scale your business. It helps you gain clarity, harness momentum, and get things done.

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Photo by Chunlea Ju on Unsplash