How You Can Create Alignment Between Your Personal and Professional Lives, and Create a Life Part 1
In November of 2019, I went to a Nationwide Conference for practitioners of non credit education. There was a lot of valuable information at this conference, and a few book recommendations. I read often, so taking on more reading, with an already long list, is not something I do often, yet the book, The One Thing, caught my attention.
The book caught my attention, as everyone, professionally, yes, and even personally, have lots of things they want to accomplish. And, sometimes, when we have too many goals, we are unable to concentrate and move anything forward.
The basic premise of the book is to focus on that one thing that will move you forward, either personally or professionally, and let go of the rest. Yes, yes, easier said than done.
However, it got me thinking about a new series, where the goal will be to convey the one thing I’m focused on that day, week, month, quarter, or even year. And, then?
Well, most importantly, what I’m learning. Where have the obstacles been, and how did I get around them, or how did I let go as needed.
I think it will be fun, and if you find it interesting and educational, I’ll keep it going. What’s first? Good question.
One that is part of my work of the year. I would even go so far as to say it is my one thing this coming year. What’s that?
Alright, so I’ve now been in my current work position for 3.5 years, and, in that time, there has been much change. Some created internally, and some, as we’ve all experienced, created externally.
However, the change is created, the important takeaway?
Change always comes. It is part of life. An unavoidable part, as much as some people would like to remove themselves from change as often as possible. And?
I understand. Change is difficult. Yet, there is a paradox here. What’s that? Change is also beautiful. Truth.
In addition to being in my current role at the community college for 3.5 years, I also developed myself during that time, both personally, and, yes, professionally. And, the more I develop, the more I see alignment between all aspects of my life. All of them.
And, that, quite frankly is just simple fun. Many people, as I once did, create a distinction between their personal and professional lives. These distinctions, however, can leave people feeling frayed and stressed when Monday, or the first day of their work week, rolls around. This does not need to be the case.
However, it takes time to get to a place where you can see alignment in all that you do. I’ve been working on it for 3.5 years; and, I’m closer, yet still have work to do. And, that’s okay, for it’s in the work we do in life, whether personal or professional, where the experience of life lives. And, that’s being alive.
Now, what tools have I used to create alignment between both my personal and professional lives. Good questions. Let’s take a look.
Vision – as I’ve written about before, having a vision, or declaring a purpose for your life, both personally and professionally is a key ingredient in creating alignment between your work life and your home life. Here are a few that I’ve used over the years.
To increase access to higher education for everyone.
To increase access to higher education for everyone by making leadership development, creativity, inspiration, and personal transformation available to every business, employee, and community member.
I live to create new access points to education and knowledge, and part of those access points is dissemination in print and in collaborative contexts, such as leadership and coaching individuals, teams, and organizations.
Develop, Inspire, and Transform.
Alright, that should do. As we can see there are definite similarities and dissimilarities between these visions. Still a work in progress. Yet, the fun part about creating a vision, or purpose, or mission statement, is seeing your vision iterate over time. Super fun, innovative, and expansive.
Goal-setting – as I’ve written about before, having tangible goals that live inside of our visions is of utmost importance. If you don’t have goals, you will not create movement on your vision. Here are some of the goals I’ve created for both my personal and professional self.
Pull community members and business leaders to us by providing them the why.
Create new relationships with community members and business leaders.
Priorities that are tied to the vision and mission.
Continue to improve and document all processes.
Publish a novel.
Increase my fluency in Spanish.
Travel to Spain.
Now, we can see how there is alignment, and, maybe, non-alignment between the goals and the visions. For the purposes of our discussion that matters less, than that there are goals declared. For it is in the declaring of goals, and setting our intention, that there will be movement in an area, that movement then becomes possible.
Funnily enough, sometimes you can set a goal, and totally forget about it, and you will still see movement in that area of your life if you pay attention. Why? Because you’ve set your intention that something be so, that you want to create movement in an area of your life. Intention is powerful.
Alright, that’s all for this installment of the One Thing on creating alignment. In the next entry in the One Thing, Creating Alignment, we will look at how to take out goals, and create clear, and sometimes not so clear, objectives and priorities. Why is this important?
You can think about creating alignment, starting with a vision, as part of a larger process, which is like starting at the top of a funnel, and working your way down to the actions you take every day.
Because creating alignment is a part of my work of the year, it will take a couple entries to complete. However, as I’ve mentioned, this series will be an exploration of my One Thing, sometimes, of the day, week, month, quarter, and, yes, year, which is where we are starting.
I’m already thinking about a One Thing entry on baking. Hm. How fun would that be?
Remember, creating a One Thing simply means developing the ability to focus and create action around a vision or purpose we’ve intentionally created for ourselves. And, that vision might be for the day, the week, the month, quarter, or year.
It’s a paradox. In one way we can say it’s less about the timeframe and more about the focus you create on that which you want to manifest for yourself.
And, on the other, we can say, timing matters, as the more alignment we create between our personal and professional lives over time, the less of a distinction between these two realms there is; which I can say from personal experience is pretty powerful.
Why do you think people write? I’ve been thinking about this this past week, as my writing has increased, well, exponentially since the shelter-in-place order went into effect. And, now as States and Counties all across the United States start to reopen, I am wondering more about my own intention to write, and how it may or may not change in the coming weeks and months.
As we get busier doing things that we’ve not done in some time, we will all need to set our intention to continue to do those things we’ve picked back up again during the COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders were put into effect. For me, that will be continuing to write.
Writing is an outlet. It is an outlet for many things, such as creativity, innovation, passion, inspiration, and so much more. It is interesting to reflect upon my writing the past 10 years, most of which involved writing in school. Though I did not take the “traditional” path to and through higher education, without it, writing would not be as present for me as it is today.
Factually, I did take time away from writing, as, for a long time, I did not consider it an endeavor that would yield much for me. However, that was long ago. Today I realize that when I am writing about something that inspires me, or moves me in some way, the words are not hard to find.
There are many reasons people write, and have written for centuries, across all cultures and geographies. I believe most people write today, and wrote throughout history, to communicate their ideas to other people. Writing is no different than any other art form. When someone creates a painting, or a sculpture, or a piece of ceramic stoneware, they are communicating a passion for that medium that lives deep within them. Writing is the same.
Even the most simple writing is elegant. I love to read. It was not always that way. I did not grow up reading. It was not until I was in my 30’s that I picked up reading as a habit that would last until today, and will continue until I am no longer on this earth.
I’ve said many times that it is harder to write something simple, than it is to write something complex. It is difficult to write something in a very simple way, with less words communicating the same idea that it might take someone else many more words to convey.
Take the current book I’m working on. Lot’s of language, too complex, and yet, I will endeavor to continue writing that book. Anything less is not an option. Yet, in the editing phase, when I someday get there, I will take the time needed to simplify the complexities. Simpler is better. Yet, remember, simpler does not mean easier. In fact, often times it may mean it is harder to do.
I think people also write as a way to work through their inner selves. Digging deep within to get in touch with their humanity. Sometimes these people write for the masses, sometimes they write in their own personal journal. Know that either way, both are considered writing endeavors, and those that do them, are writers.
You do not need to be famous, and have sold millions of copies of a book, or books, to be considered a writer. If you write, you are a writer. Simple. Do not let anyone tell you different.
To find something insinuates that you’ve lost something. Now, I’m not sure that I ever lost writing, however, I am sure that writing is back in my life in a way it was not previously.
Throughout my day I reflect upon the writing I’m now engaged with, and find myself grateful for the time the COVID-19 health crisis has provided me. Not grateful for the health crisis, mind you, grateful for the space provided to slow down, take in all that is surrounding me, and engage with things I enjoy.
It started with a conversation I had with my oldest son just prior to the shelter-in-place order being put in place. We were talking about the additional time people would have, being removed from their daily routines, and that with that extra time people might begin to imagine and create new things to do. I believe my son actual said something like, we will probably look back on this time as one of the most creative times ever. I agree.
I’ve noticed a lot more creativity in the world, from people creating new routines to keep themselves busy, new hobbies and activities to stay fit and healthy, new business models to engage shoppers in new ways, and much more.
I created a site called covid-19creativity.com as a place to warehouse my own creativity during the health crisis, and beyond. I just added the4catalysts.com website, and one other on youth development, to covid-19creativity.com so that all of my creativity is in one location.
Writing is pure creativity. As pure, I think, as any other artistic medium. It is a space created intentionally to communicate through language to both the intellectual and emotional parts of ourselves. In fact, I think the best writing is that which addresses both the head (intellect) and the heart (emotions). Not an easy task.
I never did lose writing, then. It was simply laying dormant within me awaiting the right time to reemerge. And, that time is now. So, if there is something you like to do, and you’ve had that inkling to give a try, do so. Take that first step, and see what happens. You might be surprised at what you get back. I sure was.
the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.
Emotional Intelligence (EI) is not something that we are born with, though we are all born with a set of emotions. Emotion, like thought, taste, touch, sight, hearing, and smell are one of our major senses.
It’s only been in the past couple of years that I’ve been working on getting in touch with, or, rather, understanding my own emotions. Many people believe they are in touch with their emotions, yet they are, in fact, simply covering them up with other things.
For instance, I used to cover up my emotions by overeating and drinking too much. Of course, at the time, I was not aware that I was engaging in those destructive habits as a way of denying, or refusing to accept, my emotions.
And, like many of you, I was not aware of nor was educated about my emotional self. For instance, I was not aware that when anger arises, today at least, it typically means that I am suppressing another emotion, which is usually sadness. Sadness, and the desperate need to cry.
I have read, and have taught, about masculinity in regard to emotions, and have commonly said, little boys are not taught how to deal with their emotions. In fact, they are taught to suppress their emotions. I thought at that time, I was in touch with my emotions, because I was able to theorize the accuracy of the information about masculinity and emotional intelligence.
However, theorizing about a subject, and actually knowing and understanding that subject on a visceral level are not the same thing. At the time I was teaching on masculinity and emotions, I was severely overweight and drinking heavily. Not in touch with my emotions at all.
Fast forward two years, and I am now just beginning to get in touch with my emotional self, which is both a painful and liberating process. Doing so has taken seeing someone once a week, and doing the internal investigation necessary to understand my emotions, and the events in my past that I am still holding onto.
Creating EI then is an intentional process of inquiry and investigation into parts of ourselves that we may want to leave well enough alone. Yet, what I am beginning to understand is that inquiring into, and investigating, our inner selves is part of being human, and our shared humanity.
There are countless quotes, books, and movies about “living outside of your comfort zone.” What this actually means, however, is open to great interpretation, and, I think, changes for people over time. How you view the idea of living outside of your comfort zone is a product of how you were raised, how you think, the context you live and work in, and those that you surround yourselves with.
Further, the idea and actually experience of a comfort zone, and the corresponding uncomfortableness that comes with being outside of it is different for everyone. As there are over 7.5 billion people on the planet, we can actually say that there are over 7.5 billion different comfort zones.
Growth is the byproduct or result of living outside of your comfort zone. In fact, the only real growth there is is found outside of your comfort zone. There is never any growth inside of a comfort zone. This may seem like common sense, and it is, however, most people have a hard time realizing this truth. Why? Simple. If feels really good inside of our comfort zones.
Who would want to intentionally create situations or contexts that challenged this comfortability? Really, not many. Most people are perfectly content inside their comfort zones. Yet, if these people were to examine themselves on the inside, they would find that this contentment is covering up other issues.
Sometimes being outside of your comfort zone happens unintentionally, which can happen when we are faced with a very stressful situation or life event that we didn’t see coming. If we are open to it, there is also growth in these experiences.
Learning how to find comfort in being uncomfortable is manifested by doing things that we find uncomfortable often. When we are open to getting outside of our comfort zones often, there is a comfort that comes as a byproduct of the continual practice of being uncomfortable.
As with most everything else, it takes practice to realize this kind of comfort in the uncomfortable. By practice, I simply mean creating intentional contexts that we find uncomfortable, and engaging in these contexts until they no longer feel as uncomfortable. Ultimately, until they feel comfortable.
If you are reading this and thinking, nope, not me, I like my comfort zone and have no need to create intentional contexts of uncomfortability. Very well, that is your choice.
If, however, you are thinking, maybe, or yes, sign me up. Then go out and do one thing today that you’ve been avoiding or putting off because it makes you feel uncomfortable, and see what happens.
If it’s anything like the many experiences I’ve had, yes, you can count on being uncomfortable. Yet, you can also count on that experience providing you a whole lot more, which is only possible by doing things that you find uncomfortable.