The Wholistic Approach – Focusing On Wellbeing, Work And Wealth

There are many ways to focus on work. One approach is to take a wholistic view. It is to aim to get the right blend between wellbeing, work and wealth. Different people may face different challenges to get the right blend.

Some people may do stimulating work in pioneering companies but, at the same time, neglect their health. They may work long hours in the hope that one day they will sell the business and get a pot of gold. This wealth will then give them the chance to take care of their wellbeing.

Some people may work in organisations that put pressure on them to work long hours in relatively boring jobs. They may also be heavily supervised in ways that stifle their autonomy or do not allow them to play to their strengths. This can affect their health.

Each person will find their own way to manage these challenges. One key point to remember, however, is that it is often about finding the right blend. This is different from the old idea of life-work balance.

Great workers, for example, may absorb themselves deeply in their work for long periods of time. They do not necessarily do a 9-5 shift. They love to do rewarding work, but also recognise the need to recharge.

Such people may aim to enjoy both quality of life and quality of work. This calls for finding ways to blend their wellbeing, work and wealth. Let’s explore how it may be possible to make this happen.


The most obvious approach to wellbeing is to make sure that everybody has the basic materials for life. They will then be able to shape their own health, happiness and hope.

People who have these basic materials are then more likely to explore other aspects of their wellbeing. Imagine that you want to do this in your own way.

How do you rate your present state of health? There are several aspects to consider. These include your physical, psychological and philosophical health. We all want to care for our wellbeing, but sometimes we get wake-up calls.

We may carry a cold for months, feel emotionally exhausted, lose a sense of purpose or experience a crisis. It may then be time to reassess our lives and work. Let’s explore how to maintain the various aspects of your health.

Physical Health

On a scale 0–10, how do you rate your physical health? How do you maintain your health? Do you ever get warning signs? One person explained this in the following way.

“My wake-up call came three years ago when climbing several flights of stairs.

“After the second flight I suddenly felt out of breath. This was something I had not been aware of before, probably because I normally took lifts.

“My professional life consisted of flying twice a week, eating unhealthy snacks and doing little exercise. There were two options.

“I could carry on with the same schedule, which would mean getter fatter. Or I could take care of my body. I chose the latter.

“This called for developing a sustainable lifestyle rather than doing a crash programme. So I began running on weekends and slowly increased the exercise.

“During the day I grazed on regular healthy snack. These replaced eating heavy meals at lunch and the evening.

“Finally, I changed job. The flying had become a chore, with trips to the airport increasingly exhausting. Now I feel much better and have more energy.”

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to complete the following sentences.

Psychological Health

On a scale 0–10, how do you rate your psychological health? Do you have a positive attitude? Do you have encouraging people around you? Do you have fulfilling work?

The key for many people is feeling in control. Being able to shape their future plays a key part in determining their psychological health. One person explained this in the following way.

“A great breakthrough for me came when learning about the concept of controlling the controllables.

“Whatever is happening around me, I need to focus on what I can control, even if it is simply choosing my attitude’

“This has given me a different perspective on life.”

There has been lots of research on the characteristics of people who are happy. The following pages provide a summary of these findings.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to rate your psychological health on a scale 0-10. It then invites you to describe the specific things you can to do maintain or improve the rating.

Philosophical Health

On a scale 0–10, how do you rate your philosophical health? Do you find ways to develop a sense of purpose? Do you feel true to yourself? Do you have clear life goals? Do you do something each day to work towards your picture of success?

Everybody wants to enjoy a sense of meaning. Sometimes this comes encouraging their children, doing satisfying work or making a positive contribution each day. Sometimes it comes from serving something greater than themselves – be it following a faith, a calling, a tradition or whatever.

People like to see a connection between the actions they take each day and pursuing their overall life goals. Looking at your own life, how can you continue to make this link?

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to rate your philosophical health on a scale 0-10. It then invites you to describe the specific things you can to do maintain or improve the rating.

There are many things that people can do to maintain their physical, psychological and philosophical health. Their sense of wellbeing is often affected by what they do at work, however, so let’s explore this theme.


There are many views on how to do work that maintains your wellbeing. People who do satisfying work sometimes focus on fun, freedom and fulfilment. Those who hate their jobs feel imprisoned and frustrated. Let’s explore these themes in your work.


Looking back on your life, can you think of a time when you did work that was fun? Certainly there may have been some tough times, but overall you really enjoyed the work. What made it fun?

You may have been following your vocation, doing things you loved, spending time with positive people or whatever. You may have been doing work that involved your heart, head and hands.

Sometimes it can be challenging to find or create such work. One person expressed this in the following way.

“I’d like to do work I enjoy, but it is so difficult.”

Perhaps so, but try doing work you hate. That is more difficult. What the person may mean is:

“I would like to do work I enjoy, but it is hard to find somebody to pay me for doing it.”

Great workers often begin their professional journey by doing work they love. Later they develop the savvy to get paid for using their strengths to help customers or employers to achieve success.

Some people feel stuck in roles they do not enjoy but then decide to move on. They make a serious plan to find more satisfying work and earn a salary. One person explained this in the following way.

“I decided to go back to my specialism rather than do general management. It took six months to make the shift.

“I began by leading more specialist projects within the business. Eventually this led to me giving up my director title and but leading projects in different countries across EMEA.

“I feel happy focusing on what I do best. General management was just an endurance test. Now I have much more fun in my work.”

Let’s assume that, for the time being, you want to focus on your present work. If you wish, try tackling the following exercise. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe the extent to which you have a sense of fun in your work. Rate this on a scale 0–10. Bear in mind that anything below 7/10 is a danger signal. Describe the specific things you can do to maintain or improve the rating.


People want to feel in control of shaping their destiny. Daniel Pink highlighted this theme in his book Drive. Here is an introduction to his findings regarding what motivates people to do good work.

Autonomy – this is the desire to direct our own lives;

Mastery – this is the urge to get better and better at something that matters;

Purpose – this is the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves.

Let’s explore another aspect that is related to feeling in charge of shaping one’s professional life.

This is an approach that can be used to help a person to feel more in control of their personal or professional life. Looking at the career aspect, it can be particularly useful in the following situations.

A person likes to be involved in clarifying the specific goal but is simply told to implement an already determined action plan.

A person likes to do specific kinds of projects but is instead asked to act in a general management role.

A person is prepared to take accountability for doing a piece of work but is given little authority or autonomy.

Imagine that you want to take more control of shaping your future. What are the kinds of activities where you like to shape things in your personal or professional life? Here are some answers that people give to this question.

I like shaping things when I am:

Living my daily life … Organising my schedule … Managing my finances … Caring for my garden … Writing an article … Running a specific kind of project.

Playing in my favourite position as a professional footballer … Directing plays … Running music festivals … Launching a marketing campaign … Leading a team.

Looking ahead, how can you feel more in control of shaping things in your work? There will always be parameters. But it is important to feel that you can follow your own principles providing you deliver the picture of success.

Start by describing an activity where you like to shape things. This could be a specific kind of project, a piece of work or tackling a certain kind of challenge.

Bearing in mind your chosen activity, how can you translate this into a specific goal? What are the real results you want to achieve? What are the key strategies you can follow to achieve success?

You can certainly do such an activity in your personal life. Different rules apply, however, if you want to get paid for doing such a project in your professional life. You may then need:

To find or create such a project;

To show the potential benefits to your employer, customers or other stakeholders.

Imagine you have taken these steps. How can you follow your chosen strategies and deliver success? How can you deliver tangible benefits for the various stakeholders?

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to complete the following sentences.

Great organisations recognise that people like to feel in charge of shaping things. At the same time, however, it is vital that people fulfil their part of the professional contract and contribute to achieving the employer’s goals.

Such organisations therefore focus on managing by outcomes rather than by tasks. They expect people to be self-managing, however, and deliver high professional standards.

Daniel Pink’s work provides many pointers to how we can enable people to take charge of their working lives and deliver the goods. Here are some quotes from the book.

“Human beings have an innate inner drive to be autonomous, self-determined, and connected to one another. And when that drive is liberated, people achieve more and live richer lives.”

“The science shows that the secret to high performance isn’t our biological drive or our reward-and-punishment drive, but our third drive – our deep-seated desire to direct our own lives, to extend and expand our abilities, and to live a life of purpose.”

Many fulfilled people have a freelance mentality. They may or may not be freelancers, but they feel in charge of shaping their futures. The specialist mentioned earlier expressed this in the following way.

“I now feel more in control of my professional life. I still work for the same company. But I now feel more in control of my diary and contribution to the business.”

If you wish, try tackling the following exercise. This invites you to complete the following sentences.


Looking at your present work, imagine that you would like to shape it into something fulfilling. Bear in mind, however, that it can take time to craft your perfect role.

As mentioned earlier, there may come a point where you want to move on to find another role. Before doing that, however, you may want to explore some of the following themes regarding your work.

The Fulfilling Parts

What are the fulfilling parts of my work? What are the specific projects, tasks and other activities that I find satisfying?

Who are the kinds of customers and colleagues with whom I enjoy working? How can I use my strengths to help these people to achieve success?

How can I craft a role around my strengths? How can I get my first three customers – internal or external – and help them to succeed?

How can I produce some tangible successes – financial or otherwise – that show my employers the benefits of doing this work? How can I keep producing successes and develop my perfect role?

The Frustrating Parts

What are the frustrating parts of my work? How can I manage these parts more successfully? What percentage of my time do I spend on: a) the fulfilling parts; b) the frustrating parts?

What percentage of my time am I prepared to spend on the frustrating parts? At what point will I decide it is vital for me to focus on the fulfilling aspects of my work? What may be the trigger that gets me to look elsewhere to find another role?

How can I be proactive? How can I explore the potential future roles rather than be reactive? How can I do my best to find or create a fulfilling role in the future?

Creative people recognise that stimulating opportunities are not always advertised. They often create such roles by being savvy and showing the tangible benefits. This calls for developing win-wins for both for themselves and their employers.

People who take this step are more likely to enjoy a sense of fun, freedom and fulfilment in their work. This can make a positive contribution to their wellbeing.

If you wish, try tackling the following exercise. This invites you to complete the following sentence.


There are many views about what constitutes wealth. As mentioned earlier, it is vital to ensure people have the basic materials for life.

Some people may be driven to make lots of money. They may want to feel secure, provide for their children and achieve a particular view of success. Some people find this approach works; others find that there is a heavy price to pay when aiming for a pot of gold. 

Some people have a wider view of wealth. Paul Hwoschinsky explored this approach in his 1990 book True Wealth. He invited people to focus on non-financial forms of wealth.

These could include their health, life-experiences, relationships, enjoyable activities, strengths and resilience. They could also include their imagination, creativity, vision, connection with nature, knowledge, perspective and other assets.

Different people describe different things regarding what they believe to be real wealth. Here are some things they say.

Real Wealth For Me Is:

Being with our children … Sharing memories with my partner … Walking with our dogs … Working in the garden … Listening to music … Enjoying the food we cook … Appreciating beauty.

Doing work I love … Encouraging people … Seeing people develop … Being creative … Finding solutions to challenges … Feeling contented … Being alive after a serious illness … Seeing every day as a bonus.

Looking at your own life, what do you consider to be your wealth? You may have certain financial assets such as some money, a house and material possessions.

What other kinds of wealth do you enjoy? How can you appreciate and build on these things? What kinds of wealth would you like to have in the future?

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to complete the following sentences.

People who appreciate their wealth are often generous. They have an abundance philosophy and want to help others to grow. They also believe in finding win-win solutions.

People who don’t appreciate their wealth may be grumpy. They sometimes have a scarcity philosophy and want to stop others developing. They may start fights that result in collateral damage.

Tom Rath is a generous person who has made an enormous contribution to helping people to improve their wellbeing. He led the Gallup Organization’s work on strengths and employee engagement. Whilst there he wrote books such as StrengthsFinder 2.0, Strengths Based Leadership and Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements.

Moving on, Tom explored how people could take care of their health and make their best contribution. This led to him producing books such as Eat Move Sleep, Are You Fully Charged? and Life’s Great Question.

Tom has been interested in wellbeing since discovering he had a genetic cancer condition that posed huge health challenges. Learning from his own experiences and studies, he turned his attention to health in modern societies.

This led to him writing Eat Move Sleep that has enabled many people to improve their lifestyles. Below are excerpts from a Question and Answer session in which Tom described why he wrote the book. 

After writing business books for more than a decade, I realised that improving health is the biggest business challenge of our generation. 

Nothing breaks household finances, corporate balance sheets, or national economies faster than poor health.

But the much larger reason why I decided to focus all of my time and energy on this topic is because I was tired of seeing people that I care about suffer unnecessarily and die early.

We are literally killing ourselves, sapping our energy, and destroying our wellbeing as a result of lousy decisions we make about our health each day.

The vast majority of human disease and illness is preventable. There are hundreds of specific, proven actions we can take to increase our odds of living longer and stronger.

What matters most are the small decisions we make each day, ones that give us more energy in the moment and also prevent illness in the future.

These three elements – eating, moving, and sleeping – build on one another. Eating right makes it easier to be active. Being active makes it easier to sleep. Sleeping well helps you to avoid bad foods, and so on.

Building on these themes, Tom explored how people could manage their energy. He then wrote Are You Fully Charged? This provided many practical tips that people could use to improve the quality of their lives and work.

Moving on, Tom focused on how people could make their best contributions during their time on the planet. This led to him writing Life’s Great Question. Here are some excerpts from a description of the book. 

Life’s Great Question: What are the most
meaningful contributions you can make?

What are the most meaningful contributions we can make? This is Life’s Great Question.

Life is about what you do that improves the world around you. It is about investing in the development of other people. And it is about efforts that continue to grow when you are gone. In the end, you won’t get to stay around forever, but your contributions will.

The key is to invest more time where your talents will yield the greatest return for others. Work is about what you create that improves lives. It is about investing in the development of other people.

While your talents are nature’s best building blocks, they serve the world best when your efforts are directed outward — not inward. Consider how your talents can make a more meaningful contribution to others over a lifetime.

Life has an unknown expiration date. Your efforts and contributions to others do not. The time, energy, and resources you invest in people you care for and your community keep growing forever.

There are many ways to do rewarding work. One approach is to take a wholistic view. It is to get the right blend between wellbeing, work and wealth. This can provide a platform for encouraging people and making your best contribution to the planet.

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