I’m married to an engineer, and he likes to analyze life using as many empirical metrics as possible. I, as a marketer, tend to take a more psychological and situational approach. This makes for interesting discussions when we have to make big life decisions. That being said, the big life discussion of my current career path was aided by an empirical system of weighted averages that my husband suggested to evaluate the different decisions. While I’m not normally a numbers kind of girl, I’ve found this method to be very effective (I did use this system to evaluate colleges, so I knew it would work before we tried it). So, how do you quantify satisfaction?
Step 1: Create a list of about 5 categories that most contribute to your satisfaction in life. I would recommend using categories that are broad enough to encompass changing life phases, but narrow enough to be acted upon. You can use anything that contributes to your satisfaction, from hobbies, to career, to family, to spirituality and volunteer work. I would also recommend that these categories have a significant effect on how you make life choices, how you spend your time, and have actionable and measurable steps associated with them. For example, while it may significantly increase your satisfaction to “be a successful person”, a better category might be career. Or, if your satisfaction is impacted by “helping people”, it might be better to choose the category “volunteer work”.
Step 2: Assign each of the 5 categories a percentage for the amount that the category impacts your satisfaction. For example, if your categories include career, family, hobbies, charity work, and education, you might say that career is 20%, family is 35%, hobbies are 10%, charity work is 20%, and education is 15%. Be honest with yourself when choosing and rating each category. If you honestly don’t receive much satisfaction from career, don’t give it more weight than hobbies. For me personally, career has a significant impact on my satisfaction at this point in my life, and for the foreseeable future.
Step 3: Assign a percentage for your current satisfaction in each category. Are you 100% satisfied in your career? Are you only 50% satisfied with your career? Go through each category and give an honest percentage with how satisfied you are with that area of your life.
Step 4: Multiply the satisfaction percentage with the weight of each category. Now add the categories up… and the end percentage is how satisfied you are with your life. What’s your total? It’s rare than anyone will be 100% satisfied, but maybe 90%? What if your percentage is low, say, 30% satisfied?
Step 5: Analyze the results, and determine which areas of your life are causing the most dissatisfaction. What steps can you take to change that? How much of your satisfaction is built on choices and situations within your control, and how much is not in your control?
Now that you’ve determined your overall satisfaction and what contributes and heavily impacts that satisfaction, part 2 will dive deeper into each category. I’ve included a short hypothetical example below to show the calculations, and I look forward to sharing more steps in tomorrow’s post!
Categories Weight Satisfaction Total Career 20% 90% 18 Family 35% 96% 33.6 Hobbies 10% 60% 6 Volunteering 20% 98% 19.6 Education 15% 90% 13.5 Total Life Satisfaction: 90.7%