Use the Essential Eight to Set Your Direction Straight

Are you overwhelmed trying to keep track of all the details swirling around inside your head — work, school, home, doctors, therapies, medications, IEPs, government benefits?

Do the days just fly by and you wonder if you are ever going to reach that goal or go on that trip?

Does life feel like your in survival mode all the time?

Your Essential Needs

If so, there is a solution! It begins with determining our essential needs and identifying ways we can meet those needs first and foremost. When we don’t honor our needs, our mental, emotional, and physical state suffers. I’ve known this to be true in my life too.

When life gets too overwhelming for me, I get short-fused. The thoughts swirl in my head. My heart races. I am tense. I feel boxed in. When this happens, you can bet something is getting reorganized. If I can’t control my life, I can at least have a clean closet!

blue shelf with pair of slip-ons and five clothes

Step one to build your ideal life is to make room. A couple of years ago, I designed the Purpose & Pause planner and started a practice of regularly assessing where I stood in the key areas of life, based on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. I set monthly goals for each of these needs to bring more attention to the areas that are lacking. This became a practice of honoring my needs or what I call the Essential Eight.

The Essential Eight

  • Career & work
  • Physical environment
  • Spirituality & personal growth
  • Finance
  • Health & well-being
  • Fun & recreation
  • Relationships
  • Romance

I take some time to review how I am doing in each of these areas and how I can do better. In my monthly review, I rate where I stand from 1-10 in each of the Essential Eight. Then I assess what is going well in each area and how each area can be improved.

The Essential Eight Assessment Tool

I suggest doing a weekly assessment to get in the habit of really looking at your fundamental needs and how they are or aren’t being addressed. I also create annual goals or intentions for each of these areas and these check-ups serve as my monthly goal check. But more on that in another post.

Family Fundamental: Essential Eight Review

This may be a great activity for your family to do and share to develop better connections and understanding. Knowing what matters most to everyone will help you make better decisions for your time. Even if your loved one with special needs cannot express his desires or his status in these areas, you can use them as a guide to helping him or her plan activities and experiences.

  • Learn how to make room from the Essential Eight with Time Blocking.


I’d love to hear how it goes! Please share your comments below.

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