I had the pleasure of interviewing the headline author of the recent Newark Book Festival; Joanne Harris in front of a full audience at The Palace Theatre. We discussed her new book, The Strawberry Thief.

Some themes are very constant in Joanne’s work. These include valuing individuality and finding your joy in the place you are. When she was writing her best selling novel Chocolat, Joanne was advised that a book set in a small French village focusing on the lives of local people would not sell. How wrong they were.

Your life and experiences may not span the globe but you may bring joy to your community, your street, your family or yourself. Vianne, the main character in Chocolat, brings joy and connection through the amazing chocolate she makes. Yet the minute you reach for a hot chocolate to sooth your day there is probably a nagging voice saying that it is calorific and bad for you. Yes, it is not a health food but a little bit of what you love can be wonderful. My mother used to say: “Moderation in all things” but I’m not sure I want to moderate my joy, my health and my opportunity to help others.

For me it is all about balance. Balance is key.

The wonderful way to check daily if you are living a whole and balanced life is to think about the fingers of one hand. You have five fingers so you need always 5F’s. These comprise: Faith, Fitness, Family, Friends and Finance. It is like an amazing compassionate To Do list when you stretch out your hand each morning and check in against each category.

Ask yourself:

‘What will I do today to build my faith in myself?

What actions will I take to be fit in body and mind, even for 10 minutes?

How can I connect with my family today?

Which friend shall I reach out to and make time for?

What steps shall I take to allow the flow of energy that is money and reward to flow to me?

Each week you can take time to dig a little deeper. On a scale of 1 – 10 (with 10 being the absolute best place to be) rank each category in your life right now. Perhaps it is a 6/10?

Once you have this score, ask yourself: ‘What would 10/10 feel like?’. Perhaps this would be something like ‘If I were totally fit then I’d feel better about my body so would be sexier and love life better’. This is getting to your ‘Why’ so now ask yourself: ‘Why is it important for me to have better, un-compromised health?’. The answers here could be to do with what you want (such as feeling sexy) and what you don’t want, such as having to take time off work as you keep picking up colds.

Repeating this exercise across all the five categories will then give you a 5F’s list that is true to you and that moves you to take action. Keep it handy and remind yourself of it daily.

Oh, and how about an extra finger of fun! Add Fun as a 6th F. You deserve it!