“Where do you see yourself in five years?”
It was a fair question to ask in a job interview. I was 26 and had my entire adult life ahead.
My answer, “I don’t have any idea,” was just as honest as it may have been ill advised. But he smiled.
I went on to explain that, five years prior I could never have predicted I’d find myself sitting with him at the country club in a small city in central Kansas. So how could I possibly imagine myself five years into the future?
In the nearly 20 years since that interview, it’s become clear to me that he smiled because he knew. Late in his own professional life, he knew a career could rarely be predicted. The opportunities, the barriers, the changes. The nearly constant need for adaptation. He probably knew life’s twists and turns, as well. Relationships, marriages, divorces. Baby showers and funeral dinners.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned since then — as someone who cares about both work and family — it’s how to juggle. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned about this juggling act, it’s that some balls can drop — and others can’t.
When there are too many balls in the air, what do you let drop for a short time? The e-mail replies, the extra project, the laundry folding, or department meeting? Or do you drop the lunch date with your aging parent? The unexpected chat with your teenager before school, or extra toddler snuggles before bed? Do you drop making your own health a priority, cutting back on sleep, physical activity or nourishing food?
The more I saw myself as an overloaded juggler — deciding which balls would fall, and which would continue to get my focus — the more I more clearly I began to see what I now call uncommon wellness. What does it mean to be uncommonly well?
- It means investing in your health holistically — body, mind, and spirit.
- It means understanding how to use the time you have, for the things you want most.
- It means setting (and enforcing) clear boundaries that put you and your family, ahead of work.
- It means never apologizing for sick days — mental health days — or vacation days.
- It means watching for signs that you need a walk, or a breather. And then doing that.
- It means feeding your body the food it needs to be strong and healthy — and enjoying a favorite treat without shame.
- It means speaking your truth with conviction. Even when it’s hard. Especially then.
- It means treating your gut well, knowing that it affects the rest of your health and happiness.
- It means knowing when to let go of unhealthy work, habits, and relationships.
- It means making the time to connect and laugh with people you care about.
- It means listening to your intuition — and trusting what it says.
- It means only saying, Just living the dream!, when you are, indeed, living your dream.
- It means knowing your true worth as a human is not tied to what you do — or how much.
- And it means the certain belief that your wellness makes you a better employee, parent, spouse, friend, and neighbor.
This has been a learning process for me, a focus that has taken up firm residence in my life since I began to pay attention. It’s a path of reflection and small daily action — certainly not perfection. And it’s available to anyone willing to join me along the way.
And I hope you will join me. Because once you begin to experience uncommon wellness, you realize it’s worth each and every sacrifice required. Your friends and family deserve the best you. And you deserve it, too.