A Wellness Framework for Work-Life Balance

Hi, I'm Anush Hansen, Licensed Professional Counselor, Certified Career Counselor, and Founder of Balanced Card Sorts.

I founded Balanced Card Sorts and developed the Work-Life Balance Card Sort when I noticed my counseling clients struggling to articulate what specific factors in their careers and personal lives were leading to their stress, anxiety, burnout, and lack of balance.

I wanted to create a simple, accessible tool to help people untangle these factors, identify their career and life priorities, and develop a concrete plan for improving how they feel and function in their day-to-day lives.

While many clients expressed their need for better work-life balance, it became clear to me that “balance” means very different things to different people, depending on their professional and personal priorities, values, responsibilities, and circumstances.

I started paying close attention to the factors that came up for clients when discussing challenges in their careers and lives, and began thinking about them holistically, and in terms of where those factors fit within the eight domains of wellness and health.

Since your career cannot be addressed in isolation from the rest of your life, and because your work impacts your mental and physical health, it’s critical to think about work-life balance within a holistic, wellness-centered framework.

The Eight Dimensions of Wellness* - A Holistic Framework

Wellness Wheel
The Eight Dimensions of Wellness are all intricately interconnected, and include:
  • Emotional Health: Coping effectively with life & creating satisfying relationships
  • Social Health: Developing a sense of connection, belonging & a well-developed support system
  • Physical Health: Recognizing the need for physical activity, healthy foods & adequate sleep
  • Occupational Health: Personal satisfaction & enrichment from ones work & career
  • Environmental Health: Accessing and occupying environments that support health & wellbeing
  • Financial Health: Satisfaction with current and future financial situations
  • Intellectual HealthRecognizing abilities and finding ways to expand knowledge and skills
  • Spiritual Health: Expanding a sense of purpose & meaning in life

    * The Eight Dimensions of Wellness are adapted from the US Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration's Wellness Wheel Model (https://www.samhsa.gov/)

    With all this in mind, I wanted to create a resource to help people clarify and untangle these factors, identify their career and life priorities, and develop goals and a concrete plan for improving how they feel and function in their day-to-day lives. This is where the idea for the Work-Life Balance Assessment originated.

    The Work-Life Balance Assessment came to life in 2020 at my kitchen table in Kennebunk, Maine, when, like so many others, my work and life as I knew it came to a screeching halt due to Covid-19. With a second grader suddenly distance-learning full-time, I found myself stuck at home while trying to manage my private counseling practice and clients remotely.

    Unable to see clients during the day, while supporting my son in online school, I had time to think about work-life balance (or my sudden lack thereof) and decided that Covid lockdown would be an opportunity to start formally developing and designing my card sort idea.

    In a time where the world of work, family, health, and balance had been completely flipped on its head, it seemed there was no better time to dive into creating a tool to help as many people as possible sort out specifically what they want and need to feel happy, healthy, fulfilled, and more balanced.

    With more than 15 years in the public health field designing and developing health-related assessments and surveys prior to becoming a counselor, I am well versed in assessment tool development methodology. In order to develop the career priorities and personal priorities included in the Work-Life Balance Assessment, I compiled factors that came up most often for my clients as either promoting or hindering work-life balance, and started categorizing these factors within the eight domains of wellness and health. I pilot tested and refined the card sort and follow-up questions based on responses and feedback from over 25 individuals, including mental health and career counselors. 

    It is my hope that the Work-Life Balance Assessment will reach people who are struggling, and who may feel overwhelmed, burned out, or just not like themselves. It’s my passion and commitment to help others incorporate their wants and needs into their lives, and support them in finding clarity, balance, health and wellness. - Anush