Some parents don’t listen to their children unless they’re misbehaving, but wise parents are proactive and involved; they know what their kids are up to . . . especially when they’re quiet.
This is something we all know, but when we’re putting out fires at work, we may neglect the other important areas of our lives.
Our personal health is one of those areas.
A lot of people don’t think about their health until something goes wrong. Even then, they may neglect the body’s messages: poor sleep, chronic tiredness, nagging aches and changes in the bodily functions they take for granted.
But health isn’t defined as the absence of disease, and good health care is not just the treatment of illness.
I define health as the optimal balance of the important areas of your life and achieving your positive potential in each of those areas.
Just as your organization has mission and vision statements, I believe each of us should have a personal mission statement and a vision that serves as a compass. By looking at our compass as we go about our daily lives – rather than when we’re already lost, we are more likely to stay on track.
My personal mission is to achieve my positive potential in life and to help others achieve theirs. At work, I seek to do more than solve each patient’s list of medical problems. I seek to see the whole person, their challenges in the context of their emotional, physical and social health, and to help them achieve their personal goals.
But few of us will achieve our goals unless we articulate them. This is not unlike how executives will define their organization’s goals and their strategy to achieve them.
Each day, I look at my mandala – a large circle with 10 smaller spheres around its perimeter. Each of the spheres represents an important area of my life: my family, mental well-being, emotional health, rest & play, spiritual health, social health, physical well-being, work, financial well-being and environmental health.
Each weekday, I spend a moment to consider just two of those spheres. For example, on Monday I may think about my family and social life. I have chosen three or four goals for each sphere and I use them as guideposts during the week.
My goals for my family are to spend enough time and attention with my spouse and children, to nurture each relationship and to maintain a loving and supportive home.
On Saturdays, I reflect on an 11th circle that I place at the centre of the mandala. It represents my calling. To borrow from Jim Collins’ From Good to Great, your calling is the intersection of your passions (what you love to do), your talents (what you do better than anyone else) and the needs of the world. It is what you must do to find meaning. It is your gift to the world.
On Sunday, I reflect on how I have balanced the important spheres of my life during the week. What have I been focused on? What have I neglected?
To attend to your health and to find balance in your life, you can’t afford to wait until your next vacation or serious illness. You can’t wait for a quieter time to start eating healthier meals, catching up on sleep, cutting down on alcohol, quitting smoking or starting an exercise program. You have to recognize the priorities in your life and add them to your schedule until healthier living becomes a routine.
I get to bed by 9:30 to wake up each day at 5. I’ll swim 80 lengths at the pool and be back home in time to have breakfast with my family and drive my daughter to school.
During a busy day at work, I’ve scheduled time for a healthy lunch and a shorter rest break during the morning and the afternoon. Although I may have the occasional evening meeting for my nonprofit organization or for community education, my daily goal is to be home for dinner.
A healthy balance in your life doesn’t come naturally. We and our lives are in constant motion and change is inevitable, but to be at our best, we should strive for that dynamic balance.
Dr. Davidicus Wong is a family physician at the PrimeCare Medical Centre.
He is a regular Tuesday morning guest on Jill Krop’s AM/BC talk show at 9 am weekdays on BC1.