The Happy Nurse: Get some balance with the Wheel of Life
In the first of her regular columns, Claire Westwood, Nursing Times’ Happy Nurse tells you how to get the perfect balance between work and home.
Nurses often spend their time focusing on the needs of others, especially if they are parents as well, while neglecting to care for themselves. It’s time to change that!
There is a simple but extremely effective tool that can be used to create a balanced life, called the ‘Wheel of Life’. Being able to clearly think and plan for each area can help to reduce the overwhelming feelings that come with trying to think about your life. This is especially true if it feels out of control or you feel ‘stuck’ in some way.
Using the ‘Wheel of Life’ to create a balanced life.
Draw a circle and divide it into eight segments. Each has one of the following topics written in it:
- Health - physical and psychological;
- Home: where you live, the flat/house/town/country;
- Work - do you like your job, is it a good match for your skills and values?
- Money - how much you earn, invest and spend;
- Family - relationships with your parents/children/siblings/partner;
- Friends and social life - meeting others and having leisure time and fun activities;
- Learning and development - personal growth, travel, hobbies, courses, challenges;
- Fun, challenge and excitement - this should be for everyone, not just your kids!
For each topic, give yourself a score out of 10 for how happy you are with that area of your life today. You can add other sections that are important to you - travel, hobbies or just a section titled ‘me’ or ‘self esteem’ if you wish to focus on those areas.
Then identify what would make that area score 10 out of 10 for you. This is a chance to fantasise about what you would really love in your life. What would be a fabulous outcome, or dream for you? What would you want if you could really have or do anything you want?
You can organise this information in a way that suits you. I have an A5 notebook that I write my weekly and 12 weekly goals, and I tick off each action. This works really well for me because I love lists, but experiment with what you find easy and inspiring.
STAR - the happynurses STAR system for great goals
For each section of the wheel, assess exactly what is going on for you right now. Remember to look at successes and happy occasions, what you enjoy, as well as what you are dissatisfied with. Keep a diary for a week or so to reflect on the reality of the situation. What is working well? What achievements have you made in that area? What are you unhappy with? Write as much as you can - keep thinking and writing.
What would be your ultimate ‘goal’ or target for each section?
Action - possible and actual
List all the ideas you can think of to improve each area of your life, enlist friends, your partner or a coach to help you. Then identify which of these you are actually going to do. If they still scare you, make them smaller and easier. Just do the first thing. Any action is better than none.
Reflection - assess your results at the end of the week
What worked well?
What did you enjoy?
What did not work?
Was this up to you, or others?
Treat yourself to an appropriate reward.
Be specific - what specifically do you want and when? How will you know when you have got there? What will you see, hear or feel - make it as real as you can and picture it regularly - you living in the life you really want!
Identify one small action you can take this week to move you from where you are now towards your ‘10 out of 10’ place, then decide exactly when you will do it - the sooner the better - then do it! It can be as simple as buying a health magazine this afternoon, eating an extra piece of fruit each day this week, phoning an old friend for a chat, looking in an estate agent’s window, taking your child to the cinema - whatever is right for you. Do it today, or at least this week. Make a start! JUST DO IT!
One action a day means 365 in a year. That can make an enormous difference to your life. Once you start to make changes the momentum of taking regular actions can surprise you.
Find a colleague or friend who wants to improve their life, and work together. This should be an exchange of ideas with encouragement and praise for each other. A few sessions with a Life Coach can motivate you to get started, and teach you how to set goals for yourself.
Claire Westwood is a qualified nurse and Results Coach. Visit happynurses.co.uk for 21 free happiness tips!