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Martin Short's Nine Category System!

Martin Short's "Nine Categories" began many years ago, when shortly after graduating University, he went through a career down-cycle. After (in his own estimation) wasting some months worrying about his faltering career, he began to wonder how he could better insulate himself from wasting precious time again if ever he faced a similar lull in his vocational pursuits.

Having been immersed in academia, the idea of a "Life GPA" occurred to him so he chose nine life-time subjects to focus on. The idea was (and still is) to work on the equivalent of an overall high grade (e.g. A+) when reviewing the previous week and then scoring his actions across the nine categories each Monday morning!

I love this idea (similar to the "Life Wheel" for how it can become a clever, and measurable way to keep your actions in better accord with what you really want your life to be about! Or as Marty puts it...

My system is simply treating your life as if you're taking nine challenging courses at University; each one of equal importance. And every Monday morning, I sit down and appraise how each category is doing and what I can do to make them more of a success. The categories are as follows:

1) CATEGORY ONE - YOURSELF: How are you doing? How are you feeling? How's your heart? How's the plumbing? How can you improve and protect your mental and physical well-being. Simply the day to day maintenance of oneself. Because let's face it, you can be on top of the world, but if that rash refuses to clear up, you're not going to be in a great mood. Simple as that.

2) CATEGORY TWO - WIFE AND CHILDREN: How is your wife? How are your children? Or if that hasn't been your choice, how are your cats?

3) CATEGORY THREE - ORIGINAL FAMILY: Your original family, your brothers. your sisters, your mom and dad. As an actor, I'll sometimes actually include in that list, people who have played my parents in movies. Sometimes I'll just phone up Brian Dennehy and say “Hi dad.” And before he hangs up, I get a warm feeling all over.

4) CATEGORY FOUR - FRIENDS: Are you attentive and caring enough to your friends? Let's put it this way. If you're Matt Damon, have you phoned Ben Affleck today?

5) CATEGORY FIVE - CREATIVITY: Always a fascinating one, especially when you feel that you're a big faker and have none.

6) CATEGORY SIX - MONEY: It's nice to have some money. As the comedian Joe E. Lewis once said, “I've been rich and I've been poor. And rich is better than poor.” It seems to make great sense.

7) CATEGORY SEVEN - CAREER: Or as it says on my answering service: “I'll take it.”

8) CATEGORY EIGHT - DISCIPLINE: This is a category that former U.S. President Bill Clinton has occasionally had problems with.

9) CATEGORY NINE - LIFESTYLE: “Are you actually having fun in your life?” You don't have to ask me. I'm here aren't I?

I think it's unbelievably important to try to balance your life, because from my experience, it's the best route to the ultimate goal; happiness. A sense of feeling happy and content with your life's journey.