The Whole-Of-Life Approach To Success.

April 19, 2017

In the first edition of our new Total Living column, creative mentor Jo-Anne Hook asks if we need a new metaphor for work–life balance.

Jo-Anne Hook is a creative mentor, life designer and holistic coach. With the rich modalities of neuro-linguistic programming and design thinking behind her, Jo has collaborated with hundreds of driven individuals – designers, architects, therapists and communicators of many kinds.

In this regular Total Living column, Jo will give us insights into the conundrums that make us all human, and musings on how to understand ourselves better.

Every day I meet designers, entrepreneurs and business people, all creative thinkers who are questioning the way we define success. They come for a variety of reasons; some are overly stressed, exhausted from trying to do too much; some at a crossroads in career or life and others simply feeling the urge for change but unclear as to what that change should be. Most have experienced success on some level but feel there’s something missing.

Exploring what that ‘something’ is leads us to much bigger conversations. Here are some of the things my clients and I have found:

More and more we’re realising that business is personal. The lines between work and life are blurred and we want to understand what it means to experience whole-of-life success. The words ‘work–life balance’ are used to describe a possible solution, but it suggests that we can separate our working self from our personal self, that they sit on either side of a scale to be balanced. Maybe we need a new metaphor?

“Taking this whole-of-life approach requires commitment and courage.”

We are all one person with a variety of life and work related roles and responsibilities that coexist within us at all times. We may be a CEO, partner, parent, sibling, sports coach, traveller, reader and cook. All of our roles front up every time we do. Some have just received way too much energy and others far too little.

And, in my experience, that’s the basis for the change that’s occurring. We are getting to know ourselves better and we want a new experience of life. For some of us, it is as though we have lived two lives with one set of values at work and another at home.

We’re looking to find a way to be our whole selves, to clearly define our highest values and to live according to them no matter the environment.

We want to align with workplaces that respect the fact that we bring our whole selves to the table in order to work toward a shared vision that inspires us. We want to contribute something of value and to be a part of something that makes a difference.

We’ve all experienced the negative impact of not honouring all that we are. By not prioritising our health and wellbeing we find our bodies succumbing to anxiety or illness; by not allowing time to catch up with friends we lose our sense of connection; by not having a financial plan we stress about our survival. As a result, we’re thinking about our lives more holistically.

Everything matters and has an impact on everything else. So we need to design our lives as our most important project.

Designing a purpose-driven life or any aspect of it is like designing a house. We begin with the end in mind and create a comprehensive design brief. Then we step back into the present and start creating something that honours and reflects what is important to us and those we care about. Projects require timelines and resources, creativity and a problem-solving attitude. Skilled support can help along the way.

The words ‘work–life balance’ suggest we can separate our working self from our personal self. Maybe we need a new metaphor.”

Taking this whole-of-life approach requires commitment and courage.

And what my clients and I have discovered is that when you take the time to get to know yourself, design a life plan according to your values and act on it with confidence, life becomes wholly more successful.


Article by Jo-Anne Hook for The Plato Project

Jo-Anne Hook has been described as a creative mentor, life designer, and holistic coach. With the rich modalities of neuro-linguistic programming and design thinking behind her, Jo has collaborated with hundreds of driven individuals – in Australia and across the planet – to help them understand the beliefs and values that underpin their being. So, they can answer the all-important question – “why do I do what I do?” – and move towards a designed future with a sense of clarity, curiosity, and confidence.

By the time she turned 20, Jo had established her first business. Since then she has been a designer, corporate employee, mother, wife, and a lifelong student of Buckminster Fuller. Over the last 24 years, she has inspired people to see their lives as the most important creative project they can ever undertake.

Jo has worked with designers, architects, therapists, journalists, and communicators of many kinds.



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