The Integrated Life, part 4 of 4

This week, I want to focus on the place I ended in my last article – finding a accountabiity partner. Finding the right partner to help you move to a more integrated life is perhaps the key to the whole thing.

The other stuff is important. It’s part of the process. You can’t get there without putting aside the fear, looking inside, digging deep and being honest, and then writing all down Those steps are are all essential. But now it’s time to start DOING something.

And it’s in the doing that most of us fail. We have the best intentions. We know what we need to do, but once we begin, someone it seems to fall apart. We let things lapse. Things get in our way.

We rarely actually give up, we just sort of slowly stall until…. nothing is happening any more. We don’t get there. And since we don’t get there, we fall back into our old habits. All that preliminary good work is… not wasted, but lost.

Having someone to be accountable to is what changes this. Most of us take our responsibilities seriously. At work. In our families, In groups we are a part of, we do what needs to be done. We show up. We do the work. We complete the tasks. And a big part of that is because we care about the people around us. Their opinion matters. We want to please them. To have them think well of us. It’s not that we are vain. It’s just that we are wired to be this way.

So we increase our chances of making change if we have someone to be accountable to. Most of us gravitate towards a best friend, or a spouse to be that person. Some of us turn to a professional , a coach or mentor. Too often we pick someone because we like them, or because they themselves are successful, but that may or may not be what you are looking for in an accountability partner.

Why is this? Because of human nature. There are a lot of “Just the way we are wired” things that don’t make us bad people, but may make us poor accountability partners. Here are a few suggestions of what you might want to look for.

You want them to be an encourager. There are going to be times you falter, things get in the way, or you start to drift. When those things happen, it is natural to become discouraged. Your accountability partner needs to be someone who can stave off that discouragement. Some people do this naturally. Others have learned how to be an encouragement. Find someone with that trait or skill to help you along your way. Stay away from downers. That might seem obvious, but it’s not always.
You want them to be honest…. but gentle. When we drift away from the process, we need someone to tell us. Many friends won’t because they fear harming the relationship. Others will tell you, but do it bluntly or harshly. They aren’t being mean, they just don’t know how to offer gentle criticism. If they aren’t honest when you falter, then they are useless as an accountibility partner. If they aren’t gentle with their honesty, you will shy away from them to protect your own heart.
You want them to have time. ideally you’ll meet or talk with them about once every week or ten days. That gives you time to process your conversations and take a step. Don’t try to make it all happen at once. Step by step, you’ll get there.
You want them to buy into the process. This means they have to understand what you are doing, and why.
You want them to be a better listener and questioner than a teller. Their job is to ask questions and help you come to your place in your way and in your time. That is the ONLY way the change will become a life change. You don’t want them telling you how to do it. You want someone skilled at asking questions that help you come to that place yourself. Just like encouragement, some people do this naturally, and others have been trained. But what you don’t want is someone who “knows the way”. They know their way, not yours. But if they are good listeners and question askers, then the journey, and the destination will be yours.

There’s no timetable on making this change. For some, it will take a few weeks. For others, it will take a few months. But the effort is worth it. An integrated life is full without being constantly stressful. It is joyful. It allows you to be both productive and joyful. And it’s closer than you think.

But it doesn’t just happen. It has to be conscious. If you aren’t there already, think about giving it a try. You’ll be glad you did.

Be well, Travel Wisely.

Tom

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