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Career Wellness

by David Lindskoog


You hear the word wellness tossed around a lot these days. Centres, clinics, coaches, educators, retreats, wellness, wellness, wellness to the point that google yields 548 million search results for the term, and it begins to lose meaning.

You might be familiar with something called the “wellness wheel” or “balance wheel,” a symbol drawing inspiration from an ancient aboriginal concept called the medicine wheel, which depicts four areas of health as they are holistically understood by various aboriginal cultures. Interestingly, similar symbols are used across many other cultures, such as the Yin Yang in Chinese philosophy or the mandala in Hindu/Buddhist thinking, to illustrate the complex and often contradictory relationship between parts that ultimately manifests in a larger whole.

Considering how long the above symbols have existed, the theory that wellness is achieved through balancing a combination of interrelated factors is by no means a new idea. Nonetheless, it’s still something worth thinking about, especially in the ultra-fast paced world that makes up most of western society today.

According to the wellness wheel, in order to achieve any semblance of lasting wellness, all of the different aspects should be in relative balance.  Mental, physical, emotional, spiritual, vocational/educational, financial, and other areas must all be considered.  Whenever one or more of the different areas becomes a disproportionately large focus, there must by logical consequence be a corresponding area of your life that becomes a disproportionately small focus.

Can you remember a time when you had to make sacrifices in other areas of your life to meet demands at work or school?  How do you make your career a part of your overall wellness?

How do you know when this aspect of your life is out of balance, and what can you do to even things out?

“Work-life balance” is a phrase we hear a lot with which I have somewhat of a bone to pick, as it connotes that “work” and “life” are separate competing entities, and never the ‘twain shall meet.  In reality, it’s difficult to draw a distinct line separating your work from the rest of your life.  Other considerations in our lives significantly impact the careers we choose, and our careers have many layers of influence on other decisions in our lives.  If we have jobs we’re unhappy with, we’re likely to be unhappy in general.

There are a number of things we can do to work towards career wellness, but for the most part they are highly individualized.  Someone that needs to feel challenged consistently might look to their physical or social lives for challenge if they’re not getting it at work.  Someone whose work is not providing them with enough of a sense of meaning might look to their emotional and spiritual lives for that fulfillment.  It’s hard enough these days for a lot of people simply to getjobs.  Why should it be realistic to expect them to meet all of our needs?

David is a career advisor at Simon Fraser University’s Career Services centre in Burnaby, BC, and is working towards his MA in Counselling Psychology at the Adler School of Professional Psychology.  In addition to his research on therapeutic empathy, David’s interests include Planned Happenstance and the Chaos Theory of Careers, and how these translate into the services provided to students at SFU Career Services. Parts of this article were taken from content also written by David Lindskoog on SFU Career Services’ blog.

David Lindskoog
I'm currently a career advisor at Simon Fraser University, and a counsellor at Oak Counselling Services in Vancouver, BC. In addition to my work with students and clients, I'm also an avid blogger, social media enthusiast, and lover of fantasy novels, gaming, and fine whiskies and ales.

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