Finding My Way with the Seven Domains of Well-Being℠

January 15, 2018
Chris Perna, The Eden Alternative Blog

Chris Perna, President & CEO,   The Eden Alternative

I am a planner by nature and someone who really needs to think through big decisions. On more than one occasion in recent years, I have relied on the framework of The Eden Alternative’s seven Domains of Well-Being℠ to guide me through a decision-making process. Over the past month, I have reached one of the biggest decisions of my life using this tool set…. I have decided to pursue early retirement!

This will be a big change for me after a professional career spanning 35 years. My current role as President and CEO of The Eden Alternative® has been incredibly rewarding. I love working with a talented team to initiate positive change that impacts so many people in so many different places. Yet, I have recently felt a tug to make a transition. This tug has been around long enough and has been strong enough that I felt compelled to explore it. I decided that the seven Domains offered me a framework to do a deep analysis of what I was feeling, and why, at this time in my life.

I sat down and one by one thought about each of the Domains…identity, connectedness, security, autonomy, meaning, growth, and joy. I examined them from the perspective of who I have been, who I am now, and who I think I might want to become in the next stage of my life. After diving into each Domain and getting clarity on what each of them means to me, I concluded that there are new opportunities waiting for me beyond my current role at The Eden Alternative, as rewarding as it is. I decided that for me to be able to explore these opportunities, I would need more autonomy than is available to me today. I realized that I wanted to experience growth and meaning in new ways that aren’t accessible to me right now. I felt excitement in anticipation of the joy that I believe awaits me in these in these new explorations, whatever they may be.

So, this was both a process of self-discovery, as well as a process for developing my own personal growth plan for the future. I, then, decided that I wanted to share what I had learned through this process with a small group of friends, a group of eight men I have met with every month over the past 10 years. To gain any benefit from sharing with the group, I would really have to open up and make myself vulnerable — this is exactly why this group meets. They know me intimately, and I was sure they would listen to my analysis and be able to give me valuable input to help me make my decision. After sharing with them my analysis and conclusions in a deep dialogue with the group, my decision was validated. As Bill would say, it is time for me “to experience my Second Wind.”

I am blessed that I am in a great place now with The Eden Alternative and not desperate to make a change. Still, I am responding to an inner voice telling me it’s time. As a planner, I wanted a tool to help me through this process and the Eden Alternative Domains of Well-Being℠ provided exactly the framework I needed. So, now I look forward to having more autonomy to pursue various hobbies and interests and spending time with my grown children and their families. I will also be seeking growth and meaning by cultivating new experiences, as I strive to be a lifelong learner. Finally, I hope for lots of variety and spontaneity with a healthy dose of joy as I explore the possibilities of retirement.

The Eden Alternative is well-positioned for success with a solid foundation for the future and so much potential for growth. We have a very talented and dedicated team at the Eden Alternative Home Office that does exceptional work delivering quality products and services every day. Our Board of Directors is engaged and committed to finding a new leader who will embody the Eden Alternative Principles, while taking the organization to yet another level of performance and impact. With capable new leadership in place, The Eden Alternative will be well-prepared to move forward in continuing to fulfill our mission and vision.

I want to extend my heartfelt thanks to all who have made the last 8 years working at The Eden Alternative such a wonderful and life-changing experience. I hope that the Eden Alternative family will remain a part of my life, and that we will have opportunities to collaborate in the future to change the culture of aging. One thing that would bring me great joy is to see many of you in person for my send-off at our conference in Atlanta. I hope to see you there!

How have you used the Eden Alternative Domains of Well-Being℠ for decision-making purposes? Share with us how it went.

4 Comments. Leave new

Well put and congratulations Chris. You have done so much to move the Eden Alternative forward.

Beth Irtz


Your shoes will be hard to fill, but following your dreams to live your life to the fullest what it’s all about.
Peace, my friend.

Cheryl Kruschke
January 15, 2018 6:54 pm

You leave us with a legacy of hope, joy, and determination to continue our journey. I wish you well and know this next stage of your life will be wonderful.



Congrats to you! You will be missed for sure!
Thank you for your leadership and helping others to grow! Thank you for helping sharing and spreading the word on Peraon Directed Care! You have made a huge difference in the lives of others.

Mark L. St. George Village


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