Developing and Taking Care of the Whole Person

Written by: April Vargo


Change is hard.  With the new year in full swing many people are working towards their new year's resolutions, or maybe have already quit, depending on where you are in the process. 

Leading up to 2020, I saw all these posts, "new year, new you."  Some reciting this in a serious way, others making fun of the phrase.  You realize that so many people put so much pressure on the new year as an opportunity to change and fix things that they haven't been happy with.  The new year represents hope and a fresh start.  However, change can happen at any time, not just the new year. 

A few years ago, my husband and some friends of ours started listing three things that we accomplished in the previous year and three things we wanted to accomplish in the new year.  Instead of a resolution it was a set of goals and a way to reflect.  It was also a cool way to hear what your spouse is thinking, and connect with your friends, find out what people really want for their lives.  It also helped to solidify and keep yourself accountable, because now, you said it out loud so you've got to do something about it. 

This year, my big focus was on getting myself back in shape.  I felt like after Maizy was born, weight just started falling off, and then all of a sudden it stopped, and I feel like it started going in the opposite direction.  It's so frustrating when you feel like you're taking steps backwards and not meeting a goal.  

One day I was shopping in Aldi and saw a Wellness Planner.  I thought that this would be a great way to hold myself accountable.  Instead of just saying I was going to get in shape, I'm going to actually track my health, what I'm eating, workout, and weight.  I bought this item super excited to begin. 

My dad always used the phrase, "Liars never figure and figures never lie."  My husband likes the phrase, "What gets measured gets changed."  So I figured if I actually track and see my progress I can pinpoint exactly what needs to get fixed and what's going well.

When I sat down to look through my new purchase, I didn't even realize what I had really just gotten myself into.  The planner isn't just a tracking system, it actually starts with many reflection and goal pages.  I'm a huge goal setter and love planning, however, I never sat down and looked at my whole life as one complete system, but instead as compartments.  My goals are usually made compartmentally and not for my life as a whole.  

This system has you look at your wellness and life as one in the same.  First it tells you to make yearly goals for your:

  • Body
  • Mind
  • Soul
  • Relationships
  • Love
  • Home
  • Work / School
  • Finances
  • Giving
  • Fun

Then it has you make a list in two columns side by side for this next year.  The subtitles include what you want more of for this next year and what you want less of.  Honestly, putting this list side to side was vey powerful.  This past year was one of the best years of our lives, but also presented a great deal of challenges.  By actually seeing everything we gained and struggled with at the same time, helped to let some of the difficulties go and move towards all of the blessings that we had. 

Now you're not done yet, still moving forward, you are asked to make goals for the next 3 months, 6 months, 12 months, 5 years, lifetime, and hopes and dreams. 

This beginning section of the planner was one of my favorites to work on.  It hit me why I've struggled meeting my weight loss goal.  I have separated and segmented weight loss from the rest of my life.  Instead of treating this goal as a part of the whole picture, I looked at it as it's own separate entity. 

On a bigger scale, I think this is why people fail and quit their "resolutions" within the first month.  If you don't analyze and look at every facet of your life, what's going well and what's not, permanent change is not possible. 

Some of the big issues I hear a lot from people are stress, difficult relationships, financial instability, a difficult job.  This is a lot to carry around, and if you don't acknowledge and work towards remedying those items, they don't go away, they're still there.

I've chosen to tackle each one of the issues that I hear mostly from people.  How to overcome these:

1.  Stress

Stress is a part of life, and your feelings are absolutely valid.  You get to feel how you feel.  However, sometimes people put so much pressure and worry on themselves for no good reason.  Then when they take a step back, they realized that the issues they were worried about weren't as big as initially thought.  They spent all this time worrying and all this energy and lost opportunity on something that wasn't a big deal to begin with. 

Instead of carrying that around, find a way to get it out.  For instance, start a journal.  Write down what's bothering you.  Reread what you wrote, and decide if there's a solution, if so, what is it?  Is it worth you spending your time and energy on?   Once you acknowledge the issue, and a potential solution, let it go.  Seriously, let it go.  Don't lose sleep over it, you've given yourself the opportunity to acknowledge how you feel, and now you can move on. 

2.  Difficult Relationships

Relationships are complex because people are complex.  I've recently taken a different approach to this topic, which honestly, has worked so incredibly well.  Instead of making cuts, cut those toxic people out, just relax and let go.  Now this does not mean to be a door mat, but instead, let people who are positive and influential in your life, and let people who are toxic out of your life.  

This sounds strange, I know, but not everything always needs a response.  If someone makes you feel miserable, stop giving them the attention, don't let them affect your life, and I promise they will find their way out.  You don't need to yell or scream or fight, instead, acknowledge these are not healthy people, they don't fit into the life you're building for yourself, so stop giving them your attention or energy.  You'll also find that you'll have more time for the people who you want to hold close.  The people who make your life better.  You'll become a better friend, family member, and person in general when you focus on those who mean the most to you.   

 3.  Financial Instability

Money is something that everyone worries about, there never seems to be enough, no matter what tax bracket you fall into, everyone worries.  When dealing with money a clear head and a clear plan are incredibly important.  If you're married, being on the same page is critical.  Have those tough conversations and find a place where both of you are comfortable.  

Make sure you have a plan in place.  How much are you willing to spend on groceries a week?  What are your needs versus what are your wants?  Do you have debt, if so, what does it look like, and what's the most critical item on that list.  Start with the most critical item, attack that first and then move through your list. do you eat an bite at a time.  When you have a plan, stick to your plan, have patience, and keep your eye on the ball. 

4.  Difficult Job

A job should be more than just somewhere you go to help you pay the bills.  You should enjoy what you do, you spend a great deal of your day working, don't let it be a place you hate.  I get that everyone has to start somewhere, and you don't land your dream job straight out of the gate, it takes time.  Make sure that you understand what you're passionate about, what gets you out of bed every morning?  Then, make a plan and strategy so that you take jobs that will help you develop your career, experience and build a resume.  Always be working towards your end goal / dream job. 

If you're in a job you absolutely hate, make sure that your resume is up to date, and start looking.  Be open to taking new experiences or taking chances.  If there's time, create a side hustle utilizing a talent you have.  Make sure to have an outlet, and again, a clear plan of where you're going.  It's a journey, but if you know you're working towards something, it makes the process a lot more enjoyable.  

I noticed if you start working on fixing all aspects of your life, your goals start to become achievable.  You'll start to see and taste success and you'll make permanent changes versus just temporary bandages.  Things tend to fall in place when you treat the whole person, and not just a portion of the person. 

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