A New Year’s Index of Wellbeing

Young woman doing yoga on the beach

Before setting goals for the New Year, have you considered taking an index of your own and your family’s wellbeing? I find the broad outline of the Canadian Index of Wellbeing (CIW) a helpful place to start because it takes into account the complexity and interconnectedness of human society. It offers a deeper understanding of what constitutes social and individual good. It speaks about relationships, social interaction, and general enjoyment of life. It gives me a place to start as I set out to design my own ideal life with my own measurements of wellbeing.

Assess your own wellbeing. While you are thinking of how to improve your life, consider the 64 indicators from eight broad domains of the CIW: living standards, community vitality, democratic engagement, education, healthy populations, environment, time use, leisure and culture. Some of the indicators are really only relevant on the national level. “Representation of Women in Parliament” under Democratic Engagement, for example, is probably 0% in your household, but you could create your own list of indicators for yourself, such as: know who your representatives are, know what laws are under consideration and voice your opinions to your representatives, and vote at every level from national elections right down to your city or town. If you make a list with just a few indicators under each of the eight domain areas, you can easily assess how well you are doing and mark the areas you would like to improve.

Then, keep your assessment and check back in with it one a month or once a quarter to keep yourself aware and accountable to your New Year’s check in.

What is under your control already and what needs some focused attention? This year, a schedule has become my anchor. My own work is under control. I do it without fail, so I don’t need to pay too much attention to it. I know my children’s schooling needs some intense focus, though, so we are more scheduled than we have been before. I know I will never just happen to have time for yoga or my husband for tai chi, so we’ve added those to the schedule. If it’s on the schedule, we are sure to show up. I suppose that means that I’m approaching balance through the domain of Time Use.

Choose one thing, and embrace it. If it seems too overwhelming to look at the broad view, just pick one thing you want to do. It’s easy to focus that way. For me, it’s yoga. I’ve told two friends who are yoga teachers that I’m going to do this, so I will feel accountable to them, and I’ve just told you, so now I’m accountable to you as well. Once you feel like you have one thing under control, choose another. You don’t need to wait for New Year’s Day or some other special occasion to set a firm goal for yourself, but don’t wait until you are ready. You might not ever feel quite ready. Stretch yourself at least a little to reach one specific goal. Do you want to redo your bathroom to accommodate your growing family? Do you want to learn to knit a sweater? Do you want to become involved in a local charity? Do you want to be certified as a doula? Figure out the first step, and take it—then take another.

Do it! Dream big or plan tight, but choose one thing you can make your own this year. When it becomes a part of your life, choose another thing and do that with gusto.

Happy New Year from bynature.ca!

Image © Devy | Dreamstime.com

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