“It’s just another thing to add to my to-do list, something else for me to feel like I’m not achieving.”
This comment came up in a recent conversation about wellbeing and I couldn’t help wondering if the person saying it was onto something. Many of us depend on our ability to achieve targets and complete tasks to progress through life, not only in our professional lives, but in our personal lives too. It’s just the way modern life is, especially for high achievers, as many in the legal profession are. Or is it?
The freedom to choose is a luxury many of us take for granted. It’s not our fault, it’s how we are moulded from the outset; from choosing which subjects to do at school, to which jobs to apply for, what car to buy, where to go on holiday, when to apply for promotion and so on. The influence of the media and more recently, social media, on the perceived value of these choices is undeniable. More subtle is the influence of others around us.
How would it feel to take a step back from that? To hit pause and reflect on where you are and where you are trying to go or who you are trying to be and then proactively craft choices that facilitate your goals and vision?
The importance of conscious decision making in developing a sense of wellbeing is often underestimated. So how do you do it?
A good place to start is by getting to know yourself. It sounds so obvious and easy, but understanding what makes you tick, what gives you a true sense of purpose, what isn’t good for you even if you are doing it for the right reasons, is crucial. It is hard and confronting at times, but without an honest sense of self, achieving a sense of wellbeing becomes an uphill struggle. A big part of this is getting to know your own mindset – do you have a growth (proactive) or fixed (reactive) mindset; do you want to make changes and grow or is this just the way you are?
Once you feel comfortable with yourself, it is time to take control. Are you able to spot the things in life that you have no control over and simply let go of them or at least save them for another day? Choosing to focus on things that you can control and influence allows you to make decisions and take actions that directly and tangibly effect your life in a way that you determine. That’s power, or empowered even!
So, reflecting on the opening comment, wellbeing isn’t a target to be achieved, or an item on a to-do list. It is central to us all as individuals and our lived experiences of the world around us. To choose to commit to prioritising your wellbeing is to give yourself the permission to hit pause, reflect and make deliberate choices, not only at crucial moments, but every day.
By Dr Ruw Abeyratne