VC Pentagon of life V5 1A successful life means that we are developing harmoniously in each area according to our ideals. Success in one area will contribute to development in the other areas.

We all want to be successful in our careers, our marriages, in our families as parents and children, in our social relations, and in our personal lives. But how do we know whether or not we are being successful in these five essential dimensions of our lives?

From time to time we may judge ourselves harshly, because we feel that we are not measuring up to what is expected of us. Usually, we are clear about the minimal external standards of human conduct set by society or about the nature of a particular task demanding certain talents. For example, as a ballplayer or a musician we know the gifts that we have to possess and the skills that we have to master, if we want to excel. But no matter what endowments we have, we will never be successful without setting up our own internal standards. I have to ask myself, "For me, what does it mean to be the ideal baseball player?", or, "For me, what does it mean to be the ideal pianist?". Nobody performs an art or plays a game with the intention of achieving an average result.

In matters of relationships, which are at the heart of each dimension in the pentagon of life, the external standards are not so specific. Our own ideals about being a trusted friend, a loving spouse, a caring parent, a reliable neighbor, a cooperative professional, and a genuine person are more demanding criteria for evaluating our behavior. Because our standards are so high, usually, we are more aware of our omissions and transgressions that signal our failures than our successes. There always seems to be that gap between the way we are and the way that we could be. So, generally, we rate our performance as "okay", as along as we are not messing up badly. However, if we had more clarity about the meaning of our ideals and the practical ways to make them concrete, we would experience the joy of succeeding in the five basic areas of life. Those feelings of gnawing guilt and pervading mediocrity would vanish.

The Vision Circles Program is all about getting us in touch with our ideals related to each dimension of our lives and about discovering the practical ways to make our ideals come true.

A successful life means that we are developing harmoniously in each area according to our ideals. Success in one area will contribute to development in the other areas.

Common sense tells us that development means that there is a difference between what our present situation is and what it could be in the future. We are like the artists that are trying to create what they deeply feel and what they see. By paying attention to the intuition of our ideals such as, love, integrity and excellence we light up our present situation to see what possible actions we can take to make those ideals concrete realities.

Experience teaches us that making our lives successful means becoming more insightful, more knowledgeable, more caring, more effective, more powerful, more honest, more joyful, more big-hearted, more creative, more involved, and many more "more's". All of these "more's" are the ideals that we intuitively know. But, we have to discover for ourselves what those ideals mean to us in the daily activities of our lives. Love for my children in my situation may mean something practically different from love for your children in your situation.

Each person's life is a work of art that is created according to his or her insights, abilities and limitations. Success simply means to be in the process of becoming what we see.

Since we are free and thoughtful beings and not machines, success cannot be achieved mindlessly and mechanically. Success is the result of paying attention to our ideals and of thinking rationally and practically to discover the means to realize our highest aspirations little by little.

As the saying goes, "The way to get to Carnegie Hall is …practice, practice, practice." That sound advice applies to each dimension of our lives. We have to sweat the small stuff. We need to master the scales, if we want to become a musician. We need to grind out those daily, boring drills, if we want to become a successful athlete. And, if we want to become successful human beings, we need to monitor our minds to straighten out our crooked thinking, and we need to coach ourselves in the light of our ideals. The step by step procedure of the Vision Circles Program may seem a little tedious, but once you have mastered it, you will use it swiftly, gracefully and effectively. Just like the virtuoso violinist using the bow or the star slugger swinging the bat.

The Vision Circle Program is a blend of psychological and philosophical insights, methods and techniques designed to promote thinking habits for solving human problems. Just as a skilled professional performs a difficult task effortlessly and swiftly, so also we can live our lives with joy, alacrity and grace, provided we develop the habits of a mindful, creative person.

The circle at the center of the pentagon represents our active minds engaged in the process of constructing a personal creed, that is, a belief system, made up our ideals and the practical ideas for realizing "what-could-be" in each dimension of our lives.

When we fail to be mindful and reflective, then, instincts, drives and external forces control our lives instead of our ideals. In that scenario most of our energy will be spent in the survival zone where we become weary of using our rational tendencies to fend off our irrational tendencies dragging us downhill.

Life becomes more joyful when we live in the creative zone where we are involved in the productive process of ordering, controlling and creating our lives according to our ideals.

The following programs are only examples of the ways that we can use the OSCAR method to live in the creative zone between our rational tendencies and our supra-rational tendencies. I have used simple situations rather than more weighty problems in order to keep you focused on the steps in the method and the techniques used in each step. The content of each step is broken down into smaller parts and labeled. This analytic approach appeals to some people; however, others prefer the free wheeling, back and forth conversational approach to clarify their thoughts. We can use many different techniques to proceed through the five steps of:

    1. observing our outer and inner worlds in each circle;
    2. sorting out our emotions, thoughts and behaviors in each circle;
    3. connecting our ideals to the newly discovered practical ways of realizing them;
    4. acting on our new plan; and,
    5. re-evaluating the outcomes of our new actions.

Dialoguing with a friend or spouse, play-acting with others, keeping a journal, and many other techniques will be effective.

Any of the above approaches will work as long as we are using our rational and supra-rational tendencies to order, control and create our lives in the light of our ideals.


Possible Topics of Dialogue Related to the Pentagon of Life

Career Development:

  • What are effective strategies for career advancement?
  • What personal characteristics accelerate career advancement?
  • What are the signs of career stagnation?
  • How do I know what career is the best for me?
  • What are some strategies for making a wise career decision?
  • What are the best resources that will help me make a prudent career decision?

Societal Development:

  • I have concerns about the performance of one or several of the following institutions: my school system, my local government, my church, the state government, the federal government, the news media, the entertainment industry, political parties …
  • Will this society be better or worse for my children and grand-children?
  • Is technology weakening or strengthening human connections?
  • Is the economic system humanizing or dehumanizing society?

Family Development:

  • What are some strategies to improve family communication?
  • What is an immediate and reliable resource to be informed about family finances?
  • What are effective strategies for guiding the educational and moral development of children?
  • What are effective methods for communicating with rebellious teenagers?
  • What resources will help address the issues of unity and harmony in step-families?

Marriage Development:

  • What should marriage partners know about each other before marrying?
  • What are the signs that a marriage is becoming cool and mechanical?
  • What are effective methods to grow in intimate communication?
  • What are reliable resources for resolving marital conflicts?

Personal Development:

  • What are effective ways to grow in self-knowledge?
  • What are effective ways to overcome stagnation and become more creative?
  • What are effective methods for combating depressive thoughts?
  • What are effective ways to prevent stressful responses to the strains of life?
  • What are effective ways to minimize anxiety?