Quality of Life Quiz for Equine Veterinarians

Are the components of your life in the correct alignment?
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How aligned are you with what you are doing and what you think is important?

Editor's note: The following article was part of a series brought to you by Boehringer-Ingelheim Animal Health.

In the global sense, “quality of life” is defined as the standard of health, comfort and happiness experienced by an individual or group. It measures the general well-being of individuals and societies, while outlining both negative and positive features of life. It determines life satisfaction, including such things as physical health, family, education, employment, wealth, religious beliefs, finance and the environment.

Each person’s unique definition of a high-quality life is dependent on his or her values. ese deeply held beliefs will shape the components necessary for a life rich with meaning. For some, quality of life is at its highest when there is wealth, a beautiful home and the freedom to regularly travel to exotic locations. Another person might feel his or her life is best when he or she is able to make a meaningful difference at work every day and have a positive impact on the lives of others.

For individuals who strongly value family, a high quality of life would likely include plenty of time to spend with family members. It’s important to note that while social scientists measure particular parameters to evaluate the well-being of societies, each unique person’s well-being and life quality is formed by components based on that person’s individual beliefs.

Life can change in an instant, and it is common for those who have experienced a serious injury, a health crisis or the death of a loved one to reevaluate the quality of their lives.

But it shouldn’t take tragedy for you to think deeply about how you are spending your days. No one knows what the next page of his or her life story will bring, much less the next chapter. It is important to reflect on what is truly important in your life, then live a life that reflects those priorities.

A useful exercise is to rank the following components of life in terms of their importance to you, then to rank them in terms of the time and attention you are currently giving each.

Please rank the following items by priority according to your values (1 is top priority):

___ your health and well-being, both physically and mentally

___ your relationships with family and friends

___ your personal interests and creative pursuits

___ your nancial security and material possessions

___ your spiritual life

Please rank the following items in the order of what actually receives your energy, your focus and your time (1 is top priority):

___ your health and well-being, both physically and mentally

___ your relationships with family and friends

___ your personal interests and creative pursuits

___ your financial security and material possessions

___ your spiritual life.

Now look at how aligned you are in your answers. Are you walking your talk?

Life as an equine practitioner can be all-encompassing and take up most of your waking time if you don’t take responsibility for shaping the life you want. e satisfaction of helping horses and their owners can be powerful, and the good feelings generated by being a “hero” to clients can be addicting. However, on reflection, most of us would prefer to be a “hero” to our children or our spouses than to our clients.

Sometimes simply becoming aware of whether you are “walking your talk” and living according to your values is enough to help you set some appropriate boundaries for your work life. Clients are open very understanding, and frankly, those that judge or ridicule you for making choices in alignment with your values are open not the people who will be with you in the long term. If you live your life and run your practice according to your most deeply held beliefs, you might be surprised at the layers of stress that are shed.

When you have decisions to make in the practice, you will become accustomed to measuring outcomes against your values and feeling more confident in your actions.

Your quality of life depends on your personal and professional existence staying in alignment with your values. In the words of the great American philosopher and poet Henry David Thoreau: “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined.”