Diversify your (personal) portfolio

Trust me, I’m not giving financial advice, but this popular refrain from the financial professionals did get me thinking.

You’ve probably heard the phrase “diversify your portfolio” in the financial world, but what about in your life? It’s not a thing people talk about, yet when you don’t have multiple areas of interest in your life it’s much harder to manage in the challenging times.

Think about it like this: if work is pretty much the only thing you’re focused on, and the project you’re working on stalls, or the company decides to do a re-org, or the new person you hire quits, the impact of that can be all consuming. Without something else to focus on or close people to lean on, any challenge in the one area of focus can be derailing.

If you diversify your personal portfolio things feel a lot different. Even when cruddy things happen in one area of life there are other areas that bring joy or comfort. Even though your time is split between different things (work, friends, hobbies, etc.) you’re left feeling less drained.

Not sure if your personal portfolio is diversified? Don’t worry – I’ve got a tool for you!
~Think about a good old pie chart (here’s a link to a printable blank one).
~Next, think about the primary areas of your life. The seven top areas tend to be: health, personal, professional, romantic, fun, finances, spiritual. As with anything, modify these areas in a way that best suits you.
~Look at the last month or so of your life. Pull up your Google or Outlook or paper calendar and look at how you spent your time. What activities fell into what categories?
~Finally, fill in your pie chart with your primary life areas and the percent of your time they occupied. Is there one area that’s significantly bigger than the others or does your time distribution look somewhat balanced?

I love this visual exercise because we rarely consider how we spend our time on a daily basis. When you intentionally look at your life over a recent period and then create a visual of your time, it’s pretty hard to hide from yourself. What areas are looking a little neglected right now? Where do you want to devote some more time?

This is a great exercise to do a couple of times a year to ensure none of your important life areas are getting short-changed.

Oh – and a note to my fellow (recovering) perfectionists – your pie chart is NOT supposed to be a perfectly even circle divided into seven parts! There will always be some parts of your life that take up more time than others – that’s totally cool. Use this as a little check-in with yourself to help you use your time more intentionally, not to try to use it perfectly.  <3

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