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Living an Integrated Life

confidence May 13, 2021

We often have competing responsibilities that require tradeoffs between the multiple priorities both today and for our future. The idea that we can balance it all is a myth I recently discussed with my co-host on the Side by Side Podcast. Rather than balancing my life, I often think of it as integrating what is important into life. 

Mother’s day this weekend was a great example. I’ve been working hard the last several weeks to keep up with commitments and incorporating a new project that I find energizing and fun. I really do like to work. Sometimes I can get so caught up into work that I forget to play and miss out on being fully present with family and friends. 

Someone asked me last week, what do you WANT to do for Mother’s day. So, instead of thinking about what others might need from me or the work I needed to get done, I reflected on what I WANTED. A break from the steady pressures of work and releasing the obligations of holidays to embrace life’s simple things is what mattered to me at this time. I walked in the field and rolled down the hill with my 9 year old daughter. I enjoyed lunch at the lake with my adult son. I grilled steak with my husband and then went out for french fries with a fellow mom. Lot’s of activity over the weekend, but every single moment was exactly what I needed. So amazing!

It’s easy to let pressure dictate your priorities instead of evaluating what is important for today. I’ve tried the tightly blocked schedule to stay focused, however, some things just don’t follow a schedule. I’ve tried a more unplanned approach and subsequently get “blown about” by the wind of the pressures swirling before me. Neither gets me to the place I want unless I’m also willing to add an ongoing conversation with myself about what is important to me.  

  • Sometimes that means making tradeoffs
  • Sometimes that means saying “no” to something others see as important
  • Sometimes it means re-negotiating timelines
  • Sometimes that means pausing and playing even when I didn’t plan for it
  • Sometimes it means listening to the wisdom of others who notice I’m wavering

Weighing in on these factors helps me live an integrated life aligned with my calling, my life’s purpose and what really matters to me. My phrase  for 2021 is “unwavering focus”. We are in quarter two of 2021 and I have discovered there are a few keys that unlock my focus on the integrated life I want.

  1. Know what's important. This  can change based on the season you are in. Many of us intentionally or unintentionally shifted what is important to us during 2020 as we navigated a pandemic and changes in the way we live and work. As we enter a season where lifestyles and workstyles are changing again it can be helpful to ask some questions about what is important to you. Write it down and then see how well your calendar and your priorities line up with that.
  2. Daily habits. Sometimes I realize that I have so much going on in my brain or on my calendar that it is difficult to remember what is important. Thus a weekly habit of mapping out what is important to me for the week (personal and professional) as well as reviewing it daily is really what helps focus on the activities that have the most impact which I referred to in last week’s blog.  
  3. Accountability. It’s easy to get lost in the moment. For the working parent whose schedule for the week gets thrown off by a sick child. For the leader whose plans get derailed by someone else’s decision. For the unexpected crisis that disrupts even the best designed week. Any of these things can draw us into the black hole of busyness. Who are the voices in your life that remind you that you can’t do all the things? What are the signs that you pay attention to that say, “stop” so that you can reevaluate? 

There always seems to be more that can be done. When you feel this, pull back for a moment to “take the temperature” of this season. Pause, reevaluate or re-prioritize to live the integrated life you  desire. So even in the midst of swirling changes, where things don’t go as planned, you can right your ship and keep moving forward. The journey is worth it. 

Next Steps

  1. Do a self-check in. How are you doing in the three areas? What’s important, Habits and Accountability. Which one is solid? Which one could use a little more attention?
  2. Try something new. Keep it simple, we are after all going for an integrated life not a life overhaul. What is something you want to try this week to create space to “take the temperature” of your integrated life?
  3. Re-evaluate. Try it out for a while, then check in with yourself and reflect on how it is going. Put it on your calendar if it helps. Ask a friend to check in with you about it.

If you are a ministry mom or a working mom, then this week’s podcast is for you. Listen to Juggling Ministry and Motherhood at the Side by Side Podcast. Comment below or email me a note. I’d love to hear what you have learned about living a life of purpose in a way that integrates with your values.  

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