Hippocrates said, “Life is short; art is long”, referring to the years required to master the art of medicine. Longer still is the art of mastering life – your individual life.
Last week, I defined health as a dynamic, harmonious balance of the important areas of your life and achieving your positive potential in each area. This will mean something different to each of us for each of us has a unique potential. It is our responsibility to achieve that potential and to help others achieve theirs.
Our priorities and how we balance them will change over time. The challenges and passions of youth are not those of the mature. Our fears and our dreams change as we grow.
The preoccupations of my youth are quite different from my priorities today. As a teen, they included girls, friends, school, getting comfortable with myself, and fitting into the world. My two teenaged sons may have similar priorities but with their own unique stamps.
Last week, I referred to my mandala, a great circle containing ten smaller circles representing the important areas of my life. They orbit a central circle, which represents my calling.
I look at this mandala each day, focusing on just two of the areas each day. I affirm my goals in each area and consider how I can achieve or maintain them. In this way, I balance my life over the course of each week. Balance is not a one time act. It is as dynamic as life itself. It may be one of the longest of the arts to master.
Here are my goals in each area. Consider them as just a framework to craft your own personal goals in life.
SOCIAL: I have a sense of belonging and a place in society. I relate well to others. I have a supportive network of friends. I enjoy intimate relationships.
PHYSICAL: I enjoy a well-balanced diet and maintain a healthy body weight. I exercise regularly (attending to cardiovascular fitness, strength, flexibility, balance and alignment). I am free of harmful habits (e.g. smoking, drug abuse, alcoholism). I do not suffer from poorly managed chronic disease.
ENVIRONMENT: I feel comfortable in my home. My workplace has good lighting, air quality and noise control. I do not feel crowded at home, work, play or travel. I feel safe in my world.
FINANCES: I have an adequate, predictable income. My debt is manageable. I have realistic plans for achieving my financial goals (i.e. buying a home, retirement). I have adequate savings and insurance in case of emergencies.
WORK: The challenge of my work is matched by my personal resources. My work is consistent with my ethical values. I enjoy good relationships with my coworkers. I feel a sense of control at work; my actions have predictable positive effects.
FAMILY: I spend enough time with my family. I have a good relationship with each family member. I have a good intimate relationship with my partner. I derive great satisfaction and fulfillment from my family life.
MIND: I have good problem-solving skills (logic) and can express my thoughts clearly. I am using my intellectual strengths optimally and have a program to improve my weaknesses. I find it easy to see other points of view (flexibility). I am a life-long learner.
EMOTIONS: I enjoy mutually loving relationships. I can appreciate the views and feelings of others (empathy). I am aware of my emotional states (insight). I am able to manage my emotions (including anger, depression, anxiety and desire).
SPIRIT: I have a sense of purpose in my life. I have a sense of trust in the universe. I have a moral compass or code of ethics. I am living in accordance with these values.
REST AND PLAY: I am getting enough sleep (I am not tired when I get out of bed). I am refreshed by breaks throughout the day. I enjoy satisfying non-work interests (e.g. sports, hobbies). I am nurturing my sense of creativity (e.g. art, music, writing).
Setting out your own goals can help you visualize your positive potential in each of the important areas of your life. It puts you back in the driver’s seat, rather than allowing daily life with its own priorities and its agenda of urgent, unimportant items to drive you far from your calling.