The End of the Journey

 At the beginning of 2009, The Employee Assistance Programme introduced the concept of the “Life Wheel”. We started by defining the wheel and then went on to explain to our readers the importance of balancing their wheels. The wheel covered eight areas which gave the reader the opportunity to reflect on their lives as it stood and consider how happy they were, what’s good about their life, and what they may need to work on. Our challenge to our readers was to look at the eight areas, which were: work and career; romance; personal growth and spirituality; friends and family; health and fitness; financial; physical environment; fun and recreation, and decide to create a balance.

    In the work/career article we talked about the importance of balance at work. Achieving balance at work is often as challenging as achieving it in your personal life . We also talked about the feeling of insecurity about jobs and, in turn, worrying about finances and the future. There is also the issue of not being in control of factors at work such as, company lays-off or reductions of hours, which is something you cannot change. But staying late at the office every night will not save your job if the company’s looking to make cuts, it will just make you tired and effect you and your family.

If your extended family is not affected then maybe your spouse or partner is. Often, the person(s) closest to us are the ones who are immediately affected or neglected. Therefore, this is the perfect opportunity to balance the romance section of the wheel. When thinking about romance, it’s important to ask yourself some of the following questions.

1. What is important to me about becoming more satisfied in the specific area in particular?

2. How important is this in my life right now?

3. What would I see, hear, feel, have if I was fully satisfied in this area?

4. Which resources (what/who) would I need to get me going?

5. How specifically would I know that things have improved?

  These questions might also be helpful in preparing for the personal growth section in that these questions can apply to all of the sections of the life wheel.

* What does my true self look like when I take away my house, car etc?

* What kind of person do I want to be?

* What am I doing /not doing that’s going to get me to that goal?

* If I die tomorrow, what do I wish I could have done in terms of my own development?

Personal growth and spirituality are grouped together on the wheel, but were addressed separately in EAP’s articles. Spirituality is a process or journey of self-discovery and of learning not only who you are, but who you want to be.

It’s also the challenge of reaching beyond your current limits.  Spirituality is personal, but it is also rooted in being connected with others and with the world around you.

    When trying to balance your time between your family and friends it is important to evaluate how people in our lives make us feel. Do we feel good or bad when we are around a particular friend or family member?   Have you ever noticed how you feel in your body when you’re around someone who is negative? Now ask yourself it this feels good or bad. Making the choice to limit your time around these types of people may be difficult but it’s healthy. This leads us to the section of health and fitness.

The World Health Organization defines health as the “state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being.” So ask yourself the following:

* What does health mean to me?

* If I felt healthier I would….

* How healthy do I feel on a scale of 0-10?

* How healthy would I like to feel on a scale of 0-10?

* How healthy do I want to be in 5 years, 10 years time?

* What motivates me to work on my fitness?

* What stops me from getting there?

The idea is to set reasonable goal and take small achievable steps to achieve these goals.

With the current financial down turn, finances might be the most difficult aspect balance for some of us. It is important to remember that we only have control over certain aspects of our lives and that now is the time to examine, and perhaps adjust, our spending habits in order to live within our means. This is also an opportunity to create a plan of action. Aside from the more obvious monetary consequences, one may find themselves experiencing psychological, emotional, and even physical difficulties which can have an impact on every aspect of our lives, including marriages, families, and friends.

  Our physical environment affects our behavior and development. If you want to be a really successful and beautiful person, you should be first of all in good health. Also, a good personality is essential for a person. If you are a kind and considerate person, the people around you will be pleased to get along with you.

  Lastly, the purpose of balancing ones wheel is to ultimately achieve joy or happiness. Fun and recreation is an area in our lives that we might not see as a necessity. But it was found that regular participation in a variety of leisure activities is positively related to psychological well-being, and negatively related to depression .Remember that all eight of these areas are important but each of us will have to find a balance that works for us individually.

Meila Johnson is a Counsellor with The Employee Assistance Programme of the Cayman Islands