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January 21, 2014 > Taking Stock of Your Career at the YearÕs End

Taking Stock of Your Career at the YearÕs End

By Anne Chan, PhD, MFT

Happy New Year everyone! Last column, I wrote about taking stock of your career for the New Year. This monthÕs column will focus on taking stock of your personal life for the New Year. IÕve been wanting to write about this topic ever since I received a piece of wisdom from one of my mentors, David Fetterman. David gave me this advice when I became a new mom and was embroiled in all the complexities and effort involved in this immense role change. Motherhood for me felt like I was stretched to the max in all directions. There were numerous demands on me Ð from my new baby, from work, and from family Ð and it was an overwhelming struggle trying to balance these demands. And as any new mother knows, I was also coping with the worst sleep deprivation IÕd ever experienced. Despite all these demands, I was trying to do everything I possibly could for my baby but failing miserably (of course).

When I met with David to discuss some work issues, I put on a brave front and tried to act as professionally as I could, even though my brain and body were severely fatigued. David took one look at me, laughed, and said, ÒYou know, becoming a parent is one of the most intense things you could ever experience, but youÕve also got to look at other aspects of your life and make sure youÕre taking care of them as well.Ó

ÒWhat aspects?Ó I asked, blinking stupidly.

ÒFriends, work, your partner Ð these are all important pieces of your life and youÕve got to make sure youÕre solid on as many fronts as possible because you never know when one of these pieces will let you down and you will need the support of the other aspects of your life. Sometimes, your kid might act up and hate you, but youÕll be okay if you have friends and a partner to support you. Or maybe you and your partner arenÕt getting along, and youÕll need support from friends to help you through it. DonÕt get all caught up with just one aspect and forget about the other aspects.Ó

ItÕs been many years since David imparted this wisdom and IÕve never forgotten it. IÕve also taken his advice to heart and have tried my best to make sure that I take care of different aspects of my life. Being a parent can be all-consuming and one can easily and understandably be caught up in providing for oneÕs kids and forgetting about all other aspects of oneÕs life. After all, raising children is, in my mind, one of the most serious obligations there is. However, I have also come to see that I need support and diversity from other aspects of my life.

Inspired by David, I have come to see life divided into six pieces, in no particular order:
* Children
* Partner (if you have one)
* Self
* Work
* Friends
* Community, such as a religious, spiritual, or cultural group you belong to

When taking stock of my life, I look at each of these pieces and think about which areas are solid and which areas might need more attention. Perhaps you have been so involved in work that youÕve forgotten to spend time with your kids. Or perhaps child-raising has been so absorbing that youÕve had little to no time to cultivate or maintain friendships. Perhaps youÕve always wanted to be a part of a community group but have neglected this aspect of your life Ð perhaps this is the year to join the group youÕve always wanted. Perhaps youÕve been a long-time neglector of yourself Ð you take excellent care of your kids and partner, and you are a loyal friend, but youÕve let your health and interests fall by the wayside.

I invite you to examine your life and see which of the six pieces youÕd like to work on. You can also pat yourself on the back for areas where you feel youÕve achieved a level of support and participation that is satisfactory to you.

No one is perfect of course Ð no one can be perfectly balanced in all six areas. However, it is worthwhile to look at imbalances in your life and see where you can effect some change that would be healthy and beneficial for you.

I hope youÕve found DavidÕs wisdom as profound and important as I have and I thank him for sharing his wisdom with me. Wishing you all a happy and more balanced New Year!

Anne Chan is a career counselor and licensed psychotherapist in Union City. She specializes in helping people find happiness in their careers, lives, and relationships. Her website is

© Anne Chan, 2013

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