Service without Sacrifice

Most people pursue a career in the wellness field because they want to help others. Unfortunately, many caregivers are not adept at being good care receivers. The old adage of the cobbler’s children going barefoot is apt in this field. Also, too many people proudly wear the “Poor but Pure” badge. The artistry (and key to career longevity) is balancing giving help with making sure you aren’t doing yourself harm.

I am a strong proponent of having a clear life’s purpose and setting goals in all areas of your life. I also like to keep the wording short and sweet. For many years, my stated life purpose was “I am contribution.” That statement seemed to succinctly state what my life had been about since my earliest memories. Then, one day I had an epiphany when I got a phone call asking me to make a financial contribution. My realization was that true contribution meant giving without any expectation of receiving anything in return! Everything made sense. I was experiencing great satisfaction in my work, yet there were many areas in my life that were in deficit. I changed the wording of my life purpose to: “I am a catalyst for positive change.” This statement actually fit better, as it applied to the personal and professional aspects of my life. Plus, I wasn’t sending out a message that I am willing to give, give, give – and not receive anything in return. My life changed dramatically after that. I was much more balanced, happier, and my finances greatly improved.

Danger Signs

  • Working too many hours, yet not earning enough money
  • Frequently working outside of your normal schedule to accommodate clients
  • Feeling resentful
  • Experiencing restlessness or a vague dissatisfaction
  • Experiencing physical or emotional exhaustion on a frequent basis

Wellness practitioners are very lucky. We get to help people and earn a living doing that! Just make sure you are taking care of yourself. It’s fine to occasionally go out of your way to accommodate a client’s need — as long as that’s the exception, rather than the rule. Set aside at least 20 minutes per day for self-care. Set up a support system (e.g., work with a coach; get involved in peer supervision). Evaluate your life at least once a year to determine what areas might be out of balance, and then, set goals to bring more balance (and satisfaction) into your life.