Wellness-Recovery Garden or How To Organize Your Life Goals
The Wellness Garden is a concept of recovery I am developing as a way to plan, organize and grow your life just as you would a beautiful garden. The Wellness Recovery Personalized Plan above is a plan that you can get started on now as a reminder of how to live your recovery in your daily life and signs to watch out for with recovery strategies thought out before hand when you are in a good mood so that when you are upset you don’t need to think about it, you just review your plan. It is a tool to help you stay on track, and get back on track faster. It’s a way to live recovery not just use it when you are in crisis.
The Wellness Garden is a larger concept. It divides your life into ten major areas. In each area you would rate how happy or satisfied you are with that area, what you would like to change for the better in that area and what state of mind you’d like to be in relation to that area. The concept of the Garden is that you will be planting and cultivating and later harvesting your fruits in each area according to the seasons and weather changes of your life, as well as maintaining your garden like pulling your weeds and creating boundaries so predators do not get in to steal your fruits or ruin your hard work leaving you to clean up the mess.
The Wellnss Garden is not a traditional “Goal Setting” activity, although you may set goals in some areas in your life garden. It’s more about your growth and staying as well as you can over time. It is about choosing your values and principles that you want to follow in each area of your life and what state of mind you want to be in when you are called on to act in an area of your life. So here we are looking at what psychologists would call meta-goals. The word meta means what is behind, above or below the thing it is describing. So for example if you set a goal to save $50 per month in your Financial area. You would ask yourself what is the benefit of doing so, what is the essence behind that goal, how will that make you feel when you have accomplished that goal? You may answer that you will feel more secure with money in the bank, or proud of yourself for following your plan, or empowered to buy something you have been wanting. So the goal activity, saving the $50 each month, is an action, a strategy, an item you can put into your calendar on paydays. But the state of mind, the essence and the principles behind that goal are security, empowerment and self-reliance and pride.
So the Financial area of your life is like a section of your garden. You want to describe it so that when you step into that area you will be triggering your state of mind of self-reliance. As you are working on that area of your garden in life over the months you want to be following the principle (a principle is something you value) of empowerment. Being empowered is something of value to you, it makes you feel good, strong, independent and able. It also grows, it builds on itself and expands so that over time you can look back at what you have accomplished and you have history now, you have your own results as proof that you are empowered and you can transfer that skill into any other area of your life. You can use it as evidence of your value as a person who has increased her motivation and watched her actions grow something of value. The essence of that section of your garden, the benefits or fruits of your labors is that over a year’s time you will have $600 in the bank - and that is a proactive, self-motivating energy. It is not something you do out of the force of your will or out of the sense of deprivation, or fear. Your own reason that you want it is motivating enough so that each time you tend to that part of your garden you feel a sense of satisfaction, even inspiration and excitement. You tend to that garden with loving care and as you watch that garden grow you will know it is because of how you took care of your garden. Now that is what I call a self-fulfilling activity. Satisfaction that came from within which empowers you to stop looking for it outside of yourself.
This will be an ongoing project that is designed to be fun, inspiring and exciting. It will include your tool shed, your resources, your power source where you recharge your batteries, it will include an idea basket, it will include weeds you must pull out on a regular basis or blocks that you need to remove, areas you need to expand, plans for unforeseeable bad weather, your support people and helpers along the way, what you want to share from your garden. It will include how to develop your Life Purpose Statement and how to align your life areas with that purpose.
You will identify your skills and abilities and what areas you need help in or need to learn more about. You will improve how you identify exactly what you want so you know which seeds to plant. You will learn your values and what is really important to you and what is really behind your goals, what benefits and essences and states of mind and feeling are you really looking for. You will learn how to identify your needs. You will learn what you must do in order to make each area healthy and successful and bring you the most fulfillment. You will learn how to flow with the cycles of life, death and rebirth. You will learn to relax in your garden and learn how to increase self-care and self-love for the garden is you and you will blossom. The Wellness Garden is a way to incorporate all the various aspects of recovery, self-care, growth and wellness that one needs to cultivate all in one fun, organized project. You will learn as you grow.
So begin to think of your life as a garden and what a wellness garden might look like for you in each area of your life. I sectioned off the garden into ten areas, they may not all pertain to your life (for example parenting if you don’t have kids) or you may want to add your own unique areas. It is your garden. These are only suggestions to get you started.
Remember each Gardener needs to eat GRAPES every day to stay healthy and well and in the best possible shape and state to be able to tend to her garden. What are GRAPES? Well, you’ve no doubt heard that an apple a day keeps the doctor away. It’s like that, only it stands for the daily wellness actions you need to do to stay healthy and like grapes turn into wine and wine over time gets better and more valuable, so will you. So try and choose activities each day that include:
Gentle with self
Sometimes I combine 2 or 3 of them into one activity like taking a walk with a friend and I’ve done my exercise and my social activity. Or pleasure, relaxation and gentleness by taking an extra nice bubble bath with aromatherapy candles and guided meditation CDs to listen to for half hour. Accomplishment can be anything big or small, 15 minutes of organizing the closet, saving that $50 a month on payday, making a healthy meal instead of grabbing fast food, talking a class, smiling at people wherever you go that day, meeting a deadline, completing a chore, accomplishing something that challenged you, overcoming a fear, sticking up for yourself. You get the idea. This not only helps you get things done so they don’t build up, but it helps increase your self-esteem and reminds you to be good to yourself. Actually the GRAPES idea was designed to prevent depression, which it does. But even if you don’t have depression, it does support wellness and that is the goal here.
The Ten Areas of Life are:
3. Physical Health
4. Mental/Emotional Health
7. Social Life and Fun
8. Love Life
9. Household environment
10. Your Purpose/Dream in Life
For each area, write down what it looks like now and how you want it to look like.
For each area, when you think of your goal and taking actions to get there, write down what state of mind you want to be in when you're working on that area.
For each area, check back in monthly or quarterly to see your progress and if your goal has changed or evolved. If there were problems or you're not meeting your goal, take a look at your actions and start brainstorming what actions you can begin today, one step at a time, to move toward it. It's like a target; you got to aim at it and move toward it to get good at hitting it.
JP Bailey, MA