I’m a new student affairs professional. With just six months under my belt, I can’t exactly say that I’ve mastered the balancing act between work and life. Living in the Age of “Weisure” has threatened the very well-being of my inner tightrope walker. Work and leisure have become a dangerous, yet delicious frappucino – completely blended.
Let’s admit it: there are definitely those days when we are permanently glued to our desk chairs, too engrossed to take a bathroom or lunch break. When we finally have a moment look at the clock, it’s 6:30 p.m. already. We drink from the fountain of coffee and soda from our student center vendors just to pump ourselves full of caffeine. We try (and sometimes fail) to resist the wafting aroma of french fries from some unnamed fast food chain just around the corner from our offices. It’s easy to fall into an unhealthy lifestyle after a while. I learned my lesson the hard way: I acquired high blood pressure during grad school at the ripe age of 23.
My personal challenge struck me: How can we possibly balance it all? We preach to our students about maintaining balance in their lives, but we rarely consider it for ourselves. One technique that I’ve found helpful is using the SPICES Model of Wellness.
The SPICES Model explores six dimensions of our lives that require balance: Spiritual, Physical, Intellectual, Career, Emotional, and Social. I have often run an activity with my students where we look at the model and evaluate which areas we prioritize and which fall to the wayside. The elements are portrayed in the model as six different circles in our lives. I ask my students to cut out a number of different sized circles, ranging from tiny to average to large and label each circle with one of the six SPICES elements. The larger (or smaller) the circle, the less balanced the element is. We then visualize our priorities and talk about how balance is essential to maintaining not only quality of life, but quality of work as well. And we as student affairs professionals should learn to take our own advice more often.
I try to remember that it’s not about making sure that all of the dimensions take up the same amount of my time, but that it’s a balanced fit for me. Every time I look at this model, I re-evaluate what’s going on in my life. It’s neat and clean, easy to teach, and I find it fun to take time out of my day to reflect. Take some time to shut down your computer and let the SPICES Model challenge you to identify your priorities in the Age of Weisure.
Have you been intentional about separating work from leisure? And how do you find balance in your life?
Krista Kohlmann, Rutgers University