What is a resolution? When you think about it, what does it really mean to you? As we begin another new year, I have been reflecting on the many resolutions I have made in past years. They have centered on my physical, mental and spiritual health, my family, how I viewed my job, my leadership role and on and on. The list can seem immeasurable, yet I find myself once again looking at what is ahead of me and contemplating what goals I would like to accomplish for 2011. I must admit, they all seem to have a familiar ring to them from previous years. What about this year will be different from past years? Will I be more successful with some of my health goals? Will I get up every morning, work out and make time for my meditation? I am sure you are asking yourself similar questions as you think about the year ahead.
The cover story in this issue of Counseling Today focuses on how we take care of ourselves as professional counselors. The first thought that came to my mind was, do we take care of ourselves? So many times we find ourselves taking care of the needs and problems of others. Do we heed our own advice and take care of ourselves? I know you are aware of the importance of taking care of yourself. After all, this is what we tell our clients and our students to do. But do you honestly make this a priority as you go about your daily life?
Rarely do people come to see us because their lives are filled with an enormous amount of joy and bliss. Typically, they are coming to us because they need support for a problem or an issue in their life. When you consistently expend energy assisting students or clients in resolving their issues, you must find a way to replenish yourself. As a counselor educator, I constantly tell my students they are the most important tool they are taking into the counseling relationship. If they are not functioning at full capacity, it will have a direct impact on the quality of services they offer their students or clients.
Over the years, the Wheel of Wellness, developed by Melvin Witmer, Thomas Sweeney and Jane Myers in 1998, has continued to impress me as a model not only for our clients and students, but also for us as professional counselors. I know the authors have continued to evolve their model, but the version that resonates with me most personally is the one that places spirituality at the center of the wheel, with the spokes representing self-care, stress management, gender identity, cultural identity and sense of worth. Also included are sense of control, realistic beliefs, emotional awareness and coping, problem solving and creativity, sense of humor, nutrition and exercise. If you were to take a personal inventory of your life right now, how well rounded would your wheel be? If you look at the elementary concept of a wheel, you know that it must be balanced all the way around for it to roll effectively. How do you see your wheel rolling? All of the areas must receive adequate attention for you to be properly nourished and effective in your job.
Upon investigating further, I discovered these authors defined wellness in a 2000 Journal of Counseling & Development article as a “way of life oriented toward optimal health and well-being in which body, mind and spirit are integrated by the individual to live more fully within the human and natural community.” This may seem a little too touchy-feely for some, but when I ponder the life and well-being of professional counselors, this definition is congruent with my philosophy of living. Whether you agree or not, I encourage you to consider how well you are taking care of yourself. If you find you are lacking in any area, I urge you to do whatever it takes to make a change. If you have found that resolutions work for you, go for it. If not, find a model that is effective for you.
I attended a seminar once where the presenter gave me a “tuit.” I looked at it and wondered, “What is this?” After a brief explanation, the presenter informed us that we now possessed “a round tuit,” which basically meant there were no further excuses for not getting things done. You don’t have to wait until you get around to it. I am giving you “a round tuit” to focus on yourself right now!