Over the past month I have been overwhelmed by the kind words and wishes from the people in my life. Clients, colleagues, friends, and newsletter readers alike. It has been most humbling to be gifted so much love and support. At the same time, sometimes in the same breadth, I have been asked if I feel bad about closing my business or upset that "the baby" I created is going away. I want to share my answer with everyone because the decision to move back to the “corporate world” is about living with integrity for myself and being intentional with my life. I hope sharing these philosophies and showing real examples of how they are put into practice may give you some food for thought.
Let’s start by defining what "living with integrity" and "being intentional with my life" means.
Living with integrity
- Being at peace with who you are, what you do, and how you behave
- When your actions and your values are aligned
i.e. If I value being healthy, but only eat junk food I would not be living with integrity. Similarly if I value collaboration and teamwork, but rarely collaborate or work in teams I would not be living with integrity.
Being intentional with my life
- Not leaving to chance how I live my life
- Regularly being introspective and reflecting on whether or not I am living the life I want to be living it
It is extremely easy to get into a comfortable routine and lose sight of being intentional. Taking the time, regularly, to be reflective and examine your own life can be uncomfortable or awkward. The life wheel exercise is a great tool to support this process.
Using a scale of 1-7 where 1 is closest to the inner point where each pie comes together and 7 is at the outer edge of the circle, plot your answers for each pie from 1=totally dissatisfied with this area of life to 7=perfectly happy with this area of life.
This can help answer the simple (yet profoundly difficult at times) question,
"Am I living life the way I choose and want to live it?"
i.e. If you want to live a life that doesn’t have to worry about finances, but your score in this area is a 4 or lower you are probably answering "no" to the question. If you come home every day and complain about your job you are probably not living life the way you choose or want to, unless of course you want to complain about your job everyday.
Now that we have defined terms,I’ll share with you two real examples of how I strive to live with integrity and be intentional about my life.
First, many of you know that my husband and I relocated from Chicago to San Francisco a few years ago. What you might not realize is that we reflected on how we were living our lives and to our surprise, we were not happy with our answer. By staying in Chicago, we were not living a life that we really wanted. Chicago is an amazing city. Our issue wasn’t with what the city provided us as much as what we were still missing in our lives. Our response to “fun/recreation” and “physical environment” was pretty low. We wanted the ability to go hiking on a whim, to play golf and to cycle year round. Our actions (living in Chicago) and our values (being outdoors where it is hilly and nice year round) were not aligned. Between living with integrity and being intentional we knew we had to make a change. Once the decision was made, all of the pieces to relocate fell into place.
Second, for those of you who have not worked with me directly, know that I am fairly goal-oriented. I have goals for my business and on a regular basis I take the time to reflect and examine my performance and my career. As I crafted my goals for the year and took a good look at my own career development I realized that I was really missing some very important aspects of how I am working. My “professional/career/business” score was not as high as I would like. For instance, I miss collaborating and working regularly within a group. I also miss being engaged with one organization long enough to see the impact of my work. I decided that I would like to have these things as a part of my everyday work. It was with this reflection that I realized I could be perfectly happy closing my business because in finding the right opportunity I could be even happier with my work and the next phase of my career than I am currently.
Here’s my overriding philosophy about work –
When you are no longer having fun at work, leave. Period.
This might seem a little flip at face value, but think about it for a minute. Most of us spend more time working during a week than doing any other activity. If we’re not happy, if we don’t like what we are doing, if it is no longer fulfilling how we choose and want to live our lives, it is time to do something else. I have been preaching this philosophy for over a decade. I am perfectly okay with moving on from my business because the time is right. It does not make me sad to close it up. In fact, I couldn’t be happier that I recognized, as it relates to my career, what I needed to truly feel happy and fulfilled and I had the courage to know that I could shift how I am working and let go of my business in order to be even more satisfied with my career.
I share these personal examples with you in order to shed some light on being intentional and living with integrity. It is easy to fall into the trap of a routine. We get up, we go to work, we come home, we go to bed, the alarm goes off and we repeat the cycle. I challenge you to stop for a moment and make sure that the routine you have is intentional; that you want it and choose it; that your actions and values are aligned. I challenge you to live your life with integrity and be intentional.