Integrate: to form or blend into a whole.
After coaching several clients by phone this morning, I headed to one of my favorite coffee spots for a break. As I was reflecting over the conversations we had, I thought, “People don’t get it.” The majority of those I come across through work or casual conversation really do not comprehend that life is about choice and balance. They create 90% of the stress in their lives through their chosen lifestyles. Every decision they have made up to this point has determined where they are today. Sadly, many people compartmentalize their lives into separate activities and states of being. They run from one activity to the next, one demand to the next, one appointment to the next, without ever really analyzing why. Why am I doing this activity? Does it really match my values?
People lack integration skills. If they do have the knowledge they need to create a life of wholeness, they have not applied it. They live a life of changing labels and identities, versus a life with one identity in which they purposefully choose activities that matter to them. Although we cannot control every moment and activity in our lives, we can more consciously choose the things we can control and the people we want to associate with.
We have covered a lot of ground in this personal foundation series. Building a strong foundation requires that you follow an established process. Clearing the lot must come before setting the forms, which must occur before the wall supports are built, and so on. You must grow your foundation from the basics up. Following is what we have learned in the previous four articles:
- Voice your needs and get them met.
- Pinpoint your values, and orient your life and business around them.
- Define your boundaries, and address boundary violations in a timely manner.
- Raise your standards to improve your quality of life.
- Restore integrity in all areas of your life, and base decisions in this order: integrity, needs, wants.
- Reduce or eliminate the number of things you tolerate in your life, to free your energy for positive action.
- Choose and practice a positive attitude.
- Reduce your life, activities and business practices to pure simplicity.
- Schedule daily me-time to restore energy and work on your goals.
- Live your life in the present, and perfect what you currently have.
- Model exceptional physical wellness, and polish your physical presentation.
- Hone your financial skills by regaining control of where your money goes and why.
The final installment in this series is about introducing you and your business to the world around you and integrating with the community. The process of integration requires you to build reserves, attract what you want and create a personal path to the future you envision. Are you an integrated personality living a smooth life? Are you well-connected and bolstered by the support and knowledge of others? Can you name your “circle of 10,” the 10 people who are your core group of supporters and who care the most about you? Can you list 50 well-respected service providers in your community? The reality in life: I need you, you need me, and we need each other. Find out who you are and what you need, and learn to create a strong, integrated business community of like-minded people.
Can you imagine what it would feel like if you always had four or five people on your waiting list, ready as soon as you lost a client? That is what building reserves is all about—creating a little stockpile that you can access if necessary.
Having reserves allows you to operate from a place of abundance, to live truly by choice. It frees you to focus on much more than just survival. Focus this year on creating reserves in eight areas:
- time—at least 1 hour per day just for you
- space—enough space to think, create and exist without pressure or obligation
- money—enough money in the bank to support your present and future needs
- energy—more than enough stamina to do the activities and work you have planned for the day, with some stamina left over
- love—more than enough encouragement, support and help from people you care about the most
- opportunity—plenty of good opportunities coming at you on a regular basis so you can trust the future and keep your options open
- knowledge—access to more than enough information to live your life so you can operate your business at the optimum level you define for yourself
- wisdom—connection with a person or a belief system that provides you with the insight and clarity you need to apply knowledge correctly and the ability to grow daily
Integration Homework. Define what “full” would look like for you in each of these areas and then create a goal to get you there (e.g., opportunity—I want to be so connected in the business community that I have at least 10 good contacts; I will plan or attend one luncheon/networking event per month to build relationships).
Attracting People and Opportunities
Establishing a life of wholeness and integration also requires that you create such a strong foundation for yourself and your business that you attract the right people and opportunities to you. Attraction is the opposite of promotion and seduction. Attraction is about existing in and operating from a strong and powerful place that naturally draws people and opportunities to you because of who you are, how strong your foundation is and what you believe. Attraction comes from the heart. It involves the consistent practice and application of values, boundaries, standards, integrity, attitude and physical presentation.
Become attractive to opportunities and others, rather than honing your skills at promoting, seducing, controlling or manipulating people and circumstances. Use these strategies to become more attractive:
- Develop and upgrade your personal foundation by completing the necessary work in the previous articles.
- Become that person you look up to. Make a list of what you need to learn and change in order to be that person, and then get to work.
- Create a community of friends and colleagues with like values, and network together on a regular basis.
- Become interested in others through active listening and presence.
- Improve your speaking—quit gossiping and complaining; speak the truth; and master communication that builds others up.
- Underpromise and overdeliver.
Three years ago, I decided it was time to seriously integrate coaching into my business. To attract new business with different needs, I had to change my company name and logo, which at the time were all about personal training. Three years later, thanks to that switch, I am attracting the people I want—clients who are seeking both physical and mental change.
Outlining a Personal Path
The most advanced step in integrating your life into one of wholeness requires you to design a personal path. Where do I want to go in the future, why do I want to travel there and how can I make it happen? The four concepts I like to use when coaching individuals on creating a 1- to 5-year personal path are peace, balance, wellness and fulfillment.
- If my life and business radiated peace, what would they look like? What steps must I take to make that happen?
- For balance in my life and work, what alterations must I permanently make?
- To maintain wellness, what activities do I need to choose for spiritual, mental and physical wellness?
- If a life of fulfillment is about living out my core values, what steps and choices must I take for my business and personal life?
Integration Homework. Consider the questions above as a general guide. Write down where you want to be in 5 years, why you want to be there and how you will get there. For example, Janet is doing mostly personal training. To create balance in her life as she ages, she’d like to do more coaching and work fewer hours as a personal trainer. Here’s how she answered the where, why and how questions for her work in the next 5 years.
Where? “I want to be coaching 60% of my work hours by 2008.”
Why? “My business will be more in line with my values and will allow me to help people outside my geographical area. I do not want to be limited by my physical location anymore.”
How? “I will begin focusing all my monthly marketing efforts on finding excellent coaching prospects for wellness.”
The people I have always admired the most are those who have a deep sense of who they are, what they believe and why they believe it. Their personal lives and businesses reflect their core. They don’t fear what others think and don’t need to look and live like the rest of the world. In short, they represent true freedom. Can you now say, “I have my act together. I know where I’m coming from, who I am, what I believe and where I’m going?” If so, then step out in confidence with your new, firm foundation and introduce yourself to a needy world.