The Integrated Life, part 3 of 4

In the first post of this series I talked about the value of living an integrated life, how it adds simplicity, peace, energy and joy to our lives. In the last post, I went through some of the challenges, the biggest one being fear. Today, I will ramble a bit on the process.

Process is important, whether we are an artist, a writer, a manufacturer, a saleman or a manager. No matter what we do, having a process in place means we can create a similar result again and again. Not having a process, we are sort of hit and miss. we get the result we want sometimes, and we miss the result we want sometimes.

This is a process I have honed over a decade of slowly moving myself to an integrated life, and it’s one I have used in coaching and teaching people who didn’t want to take a decade. It’s not the only process I am sure, but it’s one I know works.

First, put aside the fear.

I hear you now, muttering to yourself “Easier said than done.”. But for this part of the process, it’s pretty easy. Why? Because in this first phase you aren’t going to DO anything.

You are going to think, play and imagine. Remember play? Remember make believe? We used to do it all the time as children. And loved it. So first, set aside your fear. What you are going to do for a while (and you get to decide how long.) is think and play.

Next, look inside

No psychology here. We’re not looking for deep dark secrets of your life here. We’re looking for what works for you.

So look at your life. Your work. Your hobbies. Your roles in the community and church and family. What parts of these things do you love? Why? What do they do for you? What energizes you? What stimulates you, makes you think, makes you smile as you are doing it…. makes you smile when you talk about it?

Take some time. Watch yourself. Get in tune with your emotions and pay attention to how you feel. Of the things you do, large and small, which of them lifts you up?

You may think you can do this off the top of your head, but I promise you, even if you make a list right this minute, f you do this over a week or two, your list will grow and become refined. You’ll see patterns of the same things that bring you joy showing up in all your life roles.

Be Honest

There’s another part of this exercise. The dark side if you will. Take some time to pay attention to what doesn’t work for you. Some of these things may be things you are good at. No matter. If they drain you, bother you, beat you up, aren’t a joy, bring a frown to your face, make you struggle, put them on the list.

Again, take your time with this. A week or two at least. Because it will take time to get into the habit, time to tune into yourself, time to be honest.

Write it down.

When you take this time and look at things that drain you and things that lift you up, it’s important that you write them down. Make four columns”

  • List the role (work, organizations, etc),
  • List the activity, whether it’s good or bad
  • List what good thing it does for you and how you feel when you do it, or…
  • List what bad thing it does for you and how you feel when you do it.

You write it down because you’ll forget things over a period of a couple of weeks and you really need a complete list to move through the next step. Also, writing it down will help you see patterns emerge. You will start to see a pattern in the things that bring you joy. And the mere act of writing things down helps fix them in your mind, which will help you as you move forward.

Find a partner.

As, or just after you’ve made your lists, start looking for a partner. Because you are about to move to the last phase, and it’s the hardest.

It’s not strenuous, but it will mean finally acting on some of this, and that fear I wrote about will begin to kick in. Most people, if they attack it alone, will never make the journey to an integrated life. At best, they get part way there and slide back a bit, sure that all the things they fear will come to pass. And the potential for their most joyful life wastes away.

So you need a partner. Some people use a life coach or a counselor for this. Others find a friend.

If you choose to find a friend, you want someone who knows you and your life, someone who believes change is possible, who will encourage you, help you sift through possibilities and at times push you without fearing that doing so will hurt the friendship.

Find that person. Tell them what you want to accomplish. Explain the process and what you need from them. And have them in place before you start the last phase, which we will talk about in the last column, next week.

Be well. Travel Wisely.

Tom

 

 

 

 

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