Draw circles and paint your life

Photo by Todd Quackenbush

In 2014 I had a rough year. Work sucked, love wilted and my family struggled with health issues. Last year I wrote about hard times and how I took back control. No more waiting around for better days or letting others determine my life’s course.

I know it’s corny, bear with me for a minute. I want to share with you a fun challenge you can do right now to start changing your mindset.


The challenge is an exercise given in the 10-week course better leader, richer life, part of the Wharton University MBA curriculum.

It taught me:

  • to quit believing in the work/life trade-off
  • how to structure my life in four domains. Work, Home, Community & Self
  • bring harmony across these domains.

How it works:

  • 4 circles represent all parts of your life. Work, Home, Community and Self. They add up to 100%.
  • Change the size of a circle to define its importance compared to your other domains. Drag and drop the circles to a location to indicate how they relate with each other. Overlapping circles signals harmony.
  • Explain the meaning of your picture in 150–300 words.
  • Be creative and think of ways to improve the harmony of all life domains.

Here’s my first attempt:

I spent weeks experimenting with ideas to bring more harmony across the four domains. I drew a second circles diagram:

and wrote a description:

“My picture starts from self. I believe in having an internal locus of control and the ability to choose how to respond to (un)expected events. Starting from self I try to incorporate my values in everything I do. Self is centered in the image. I use it to attract work, home and community inwards and drive strength from this circle. I am guided by my principles: love, respect & honesty. I don’t believe in perfect alignment as we are human and sometimes we make mistakes or behave in ways that surprise both ourselves and others. This is why we reflect on own actions and strive to become better.

I hope by focusing on my work the community will organically enlarge by means of cause and effect. I engage my family with my work.”

My 2015 recap

A year has past and I continue to use the 4 domains to reflect on my actions in the past year. It’s good to stop, turn around and look back once in a while.

January 2015, I quit my job and I took a month sabbatical in Thailand. I joined Jidoka Consultancy in February. I believe in their vision and commit myself to its growth. I started my assignment at International Post Corporation and have positioned myself between business and IT professionals. I started Learn To Be More as a hobby and use it to give back to you (the reader). Lessons I’ve learnt over the past few years, courses I’ve followed, books I’ve read, people I look up to you find here.

As a 27 year old bachelor it is time to leave the nest so I bought an apartment in Brussels. My father and sister live in Bangkok and I’ve visited them (and friends) twice in one year. My relationship with my father has improved as I’ve let past grievances go. Let bygones be bygones.

My sabbatical month in January was well chosen. I’m very close with my friends in Thailand and whenever one gets married I do my best to join them for such a joyous occasion. In January and November I attended three Thai-Indian weddings. For new years I bonded with my niece and nephew and their group of friends in Berlin.

The biggest changes are always personal. I amped up my reading from 3–5 books a year to 25 books. I followed 8 online courses such as become a superlearner. To stay fit and more adventurous I started rock climbing and have convinced my nephew to join me. Even though I am completely tone deaf I bought a piano and am having a blast learning.

The difference between 2014 and 2015 is grand
Funny how your mindset defines who you are.

I encourage you to check out the four courses framework and the MBA-course better leader, richer life, it is worth it!


Feel free to share and leave a comment. I’d like to hear your thoughts. You can find more articles on learn to be more.