When it comes to business, we're all used to the idea of targets, profits and year on year performance. Yet when it comes to our own lives most people don't measure their progress. Darren Ryemill thinks everyone would be happier - and businesses would be stronger - if we worked on our life score…
Until recently, I thought happiness was something that couldn't be measured. It's not tangible like profits or market share, but more of a feeling that you get when you hear a great song or when you're watching the football with your mates. But over the last couple of years I've realised you can measure your happiness. Not only can you do it, but you absolutely should do it - for your own personal growth but also to become a better leader. Keeping track of your life score is a powerful tool for continuous self-improvement and for the improvement of your employees - which ultimately will benefit your business.
Like most good ideas, it's a simple concept - you score yourself in different areas of your life. We use an awesome piece of software at Opus called NorthStar - and back in 2016, I personalised it to my life. I'd like to boast and say I invented this whole concept but I've since found out that most psychologists and life coaches use a similar tool called The Wheel of Life. I started by listing the 12 areas that make up my life - but you can list any number, you want. My areas - in no particular order are happiness, health and well-being, family and friends, romance and relationships, business, finance, personal growth, self-worth, contribution to society and spirituality. These 12 things are important to my life - they may not be to yours but that's for you to decide. Then I scored myself out of 10 in each category - how I felt I was doing in each area.
The first time I filled my wheel in was 5 December 2016 - and I scored an average of 4.6 out of 10. Looking back at that time, I was feeling pretty low - which is why I'd decided to take action in the first place. The great thing is, once you've looked into your life in detail like this, you can give yourself goals - a 'life to-do list'. Just writing that list makes you feel like you have some control. Some things are easy to address - for example, fun and recreation. I'm a member of a golf club and I realised I hadn't played golf for over a year, so I booked a round in. Same with health and wellbeing, I always feel better if I meditate for ten minutes a day, so I started building that into my day. It's only ten minutes, but if it contributes to that 5 becoming a 6, then you're improving - which is the goal.
It's all about how you feel about yourself. I'm sure if Mo Farah were to meet me he wouldn't think I was a 7 for health and wellbeing - and that his 5 would be my version of 10. But it's not about who has the best score. It's about becoming your best version of you. The second time I did the wheel was two months later -to give myself time to fit in everything on my action plan. I'd gone from a 4.6 to a 6. I've done it every six months since then and I'm now on 7.5. I'm not telling you this to brag. I'm sharing because I believe there's huge power in checking in on how you're feeling and making a plan for where you want to go.
And that translates to business. At Opus, we now use NorthStar as the basis for all our staff appraisals. It's a great piece of software because it measures anything you want it to. So in an appraisal, for example, you'd maybe measure how many job placements that employee made that month, or how many new clients they brought in. But we also measure staff health and wellbeing and personal goals like happiness on there.
I'd like to say I do that because I'm a good person - and I do believe that most people are good and want others to be happy and succeed. But also, I work in the business of people - and if my people aren't happy or the best version of themselves then my business isn't either.
The stats agree with me too. According to the latest figures, providing better mental health support in the workplace can save UK businesses up to £8 billion per year. In 2016/17 a massive 12.5 million working days were lost due to work-related stress, depression or anxiety.
The state of your employee's happiness, their mental and physical health and wellbeing - all these things are regularly measured using NorthStar at Opus. And that's what fed into initiatives like the free counsellors and life coaches, our on-site gym in Bristol and our retreat in Italy which is free for employees to use. So businesses shouldn't care about all this hippy stuff to be nice, they should do it because they'll start to improve those shocking statistics. And they will get significant returns on their investment - because the best thing you can invest in is your people.
If you want to know more about NorthStar, the software, methodology or anything else then get in touch with Glyn Blaize on firstname.lastname@example.org. Let me know what your life score is - and how you want to improve it. If there are any other topics you'd like me to blog about then just let me know.