Start at the beginning

I recently facilitated a workshop for a group of psychologists and psychiatrists who work in the health service with children and adolescents.  My brief was to help them devise a strategy to position their services in relation to organisational changes within the health sector, and to assist them in resolving conflicts within their team.

Half way through the day it was obviously not working: difference of views, interpersonal issues and professional rivalries were preventing any real consensus emerging.

There’s an old joke about asking a person for directions and being told “I wouldn’t start from here if I were you”!

I realised that that’s exactly what the group needed - a different starting point.  They couldn’t see where they wanted to go because they had a lost sight of why they do what they do in the first place.

We spent the next half-day looking at what motivates them in their profession.  What drives them individually?  What are their values and beliefs in what they do?  Why did they choose to work in children’s mental health in the first place?

Essentially my aim was to reconnect them with their vocational passion – to bring them back into a sense of purpose, significance and meaning.

When each person spoke about their deeper motivations there was a tangible atmosphere of unity and agreement. There was now a different place to come out from, and a renewed energy and vision about the future of their service. Many of the issues they were previously caught up in melted way within the new context of shared passion.

The point about work-life balance in this is simple. Time management is not the starting point for achieving wok life balance. Energy and vitality counts for far more.

So regularly think about what deeply motivates you. Find the passion, belief and purpose in what you do.  These are the high-octane fuels that give you the capacity and resilience to face the pressures of a demanding life.


To contact Nick Woodeson, please email him at