I've noticed a trend. More and more, it seems major change is at the heart of my clients' current experiences.
Some are facing significant career change. Others are going to college or facing the empty-nest environment after sending children away for the first time. Divorce, death in the family, retirement, you name it. Change is all around us, and in a hyper-connected society, we are constantly reminded of shifts in our foundation.
Most of my clients long for something more solid to cling to as they struggle to find stability through big transitional times. Integrating strengths with concepts from the book Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements, by bestselling authors Tom Rath and Jim Harter, Ph.D., seems to help them find balance as they work through the challenges in their life.
The five elements of wellbeing are:
- Purpose wellbeing: liking what you do each day and being motivated to achieve your goals
- Social wellbeing: having supportive relationships and love in your life
- Financial wellbeing: managing your economic life to reduce stress and increase security
- Physical wellbeing: having good health and enough energy to get things done daily
- Community wellbeing: liking where you live, feeling safe and having pride in your community
Helping clients think through their unique strengths and how they can marry them in new ways within these five elements creates a plan to follow. It provides a clearer target for where to aim their talents rather than simply asking people to improve upon their talents. The result is that they see their strengths through a different lens and feel more in control, and it gives many hope for a brighter future.
Let's take Mary, for example. Her husband of 35 years passed away suddenly. They had run a business together. As you can imagine, she was not only grieving the loss of her husband but also the loss of her business partner who had some complementary strengths to her own. Mary's top five are Achiever, Maximizer, Includer, Relator and Belief. Her late husband's were Strategic, Analytical, Context, Achiever and Belief.
To help Mary through this difficult time, she and I worked together for a year on her wellbeing, putting a plan in place that used strengths as her vehicle for reaching her goals.
Mary's Wellbeing Strengths Plan
- Purpose wellbeing goal: Use my Achiever to set a measurable amount of think time with my daughter (spending time with daughter using Belief strength of family) twice a week who has my husband's strengths of Strategic and Analytical. Check it off of my things-to-do list.
- Social wellbeing goal: Use my Relator to ask one of my established friends to go out to dinner, a movie or a concert at least once on the weekend and use my Includer to invite one new friend to join us once a month.
- Financial wellbeing goal: Use my Maximizer and Achiever to set stretch goals but realistic goals for myself financially.
- Physical wellbeing goal: Use my Relator to ask my friend Ann to walk with me two mornings a week and grow our relationship at the same time.
- Community wellbeing goal: Use my Belief of family and giving back by volunteering my time once a month at our city's homeless shelter with my son.
With her wellness plan in place, Mary was able to go through a natural grieving process but with a strengths-based focus that allowed her to gain control and have hope. Mary says that the wellbeing structure paired with strengths helped her see past her short- term hurdles, which was very difficult, and start to make plans for a more balanced, positive future life.
Each monthly coaching session brought a more confident Mary, engaged in her life and full of hope. Here are just a few of her accomplishments:
- Mary spent time working in her business with her daughter who had the same two complementary strengths of Strategic and Analytical as Mary's late husband. This partnership kept the financial side of the business going smoothly.
- She redefined herself socially as a single person. Her goal of including one new friend to join established friends once during the month using her Relator and Includer helped her establish six new deeper relationships with other widowed women whom she had met through a grief support group at a local church.
- Mary set challenging yet realistic goals for her personal financial situation using her Maximizer and Achiever. She was able to save enough money to take her three children and four grandchildren on a vacation to Disney World for four days and stay at a nice condominium near the Disney property.
- She walked with her good friend Ann faithfully two mornings a week, even if it was pouring rain outside. She described it as her morning therapy and lost 22 pounds!
- She discovered a love of spending time with her son volunteering at a homeless shelter. When she was with others who had more sorrow than she did, she made it her mission to put on a smile and make each person's day as she served them a meal. Giving back to the community together brought her and her son closer in their common belief system and roles as mother and son.
As a strengths coach, is it my job to be insatiably curious about what is right with people. Adding elements of wellbeing helps me focus my curiosity and helps my clients define a solid strategy for navigating change.