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(More Day 4) Creating Your Work+Life Fit Vision–Your Internal Guidance, and My Story

We’re in Day 4 of the “Work+Life Fit in 5 Days” series of how-to basics, and today we’re answering the smallest and yet most difficult question, “What Do You Want?”  This is your work+life fit vision

We’re in Day 4 of the “Work+Life Fit in 5 Days” series of how-to basics, and today we’re answering the smallest and yet most difficult question, “What Do You Want?”  This is your work+life fit vision.

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We started, on the Work+Life Fit blog, by explaining why an initial picture of where you want to go is important. In other words, what do you want your final work+life fit to look like?

THE TOOLS

The three tools for tapping into your internal guidance and creating a powerful work+life fit vision include the mind (the fact-based information you need to succeed), the body (taking care of yourself physically), and finally the spirit-based tools.  What do I mean by “spirit-based” tools and how do they help access your internal guidance which informs your work+life fit vision?  That’s the topic of this Day 4 post.

Let’s start by defining spirit-related tools, and then look at some of the day to day practices you can use to access your unique internal guidance.

I’ve witnessed countless examples of work+life fit success over the last 15 years.  In all cases, each individual did his or her homework (gathered the rational, logical data) but then followed their internal guidance and did what made sense for them.

I’m a living example.  When I consciously began my personal work+life fit journey 18 years ago, for the first time in my life I followed my internal guidance (as well as gathered information and took better care of myself physically).  It was the only way I was able to make my major work+life fit transition from corporate banker to work+life strategy consultant.  I will share my story at the end of the post. Fun fact, Sue Shellenbarger of The Wall Street Journal played a big role at one point in my story.  I am forever grateful to her to this day!

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SPIRIT-RELATED TOOLS AND YOUR INTERNAL GUIDANCE

Excerpt from Work+Life: Finding the Fit That’s Right for You

“Again, spirit simply means understanding that which is uniquely you—your values, beliefs, and priorities, as you define them—and how they are expressed in your life as a whole, not just in work. And then using that understanding to create an imaginative insight into how you want work to fit into your life.

As the opening line of this book states, I believe that we are all put on the earth with a specific set of skills and talents that we are to use to fulfill our life’s purpose in all areas of our life—not just work.

While I believe that the logical, head-based approach to your work+life vision can help you identify your skills and talents, only your spirit provides the context for how and where to use them to fulfill your life’s purpose. And this purpose can change, depending upon what stage of life you’re in.

By using the tool of spirit, your internal guidance will help you with the answers to those big life questions:

  • Who am I, as a whole, not just as a worker?
  • What is my purpose, not just at work but in my life as a whole?
  • What do I love to do at work and in my personal life?
  • What are my unique talents and gifts?

The answers to such questions form the context within which your internal guidance analyzes data from the mind and body. This is why spirit is such an important tool for creating your work+life vision. It considers all of who you are and not just your “work-self.” Again, with the tool of spirit, you are able to dream and achieve much bigger things than your more limited logical mind could ever conceive.” (Click here for more and to print or download PDF).

PRACTICES TO ACCESS YOUR INTERNAL GUIDANCE

At the end of the excerpt from the book (above) is a list of practices you can test to help you connect to your inner guidance.  They are called “practices” and not “one time events,” because they do require consistent use to work.  They don’t need a huge investment of time and energy (see today’s Work+Life Fit blog post for more). These practices include: Reading inspiring books, meditation, journaling and reconnecting to something greater (e.g. nature, art, music, etc).

With each practice I introduce and I also share my initial fumbling experiences as a Type A, banker who thought all of this stuff was mumbo jumbo.  You will find it amusing.  I always giggle (compassionately) at myself when I reflect back on that time.  It all seemed hard, but it really wasn’t.  Just stick with it.  Adopting all or even one of these practices will transform the possibilities for your work+life fit. I am a witness everyday personally and in my work.

Here are some additional resources I’ve encountered since the book was published that you may want to consider trying:

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Judy Martin, of WorkLifeNation.com: Practical Chaos: Reflections on Resilience CD   (You can hear a sample and download here); 5 Keys to Work Life Sanity ;Taking an Office Break to Meditate

Jonathan Fields – Career Renegade

Craving Balance.com (virtual coaching)

Pam Slim Escape from Cubicle Nation

MY STORY—From Work/Life Misery to Work+Life Fit  (Excerpted from book)

“My journey took me from being a person who didn’t even know her internal guidance existed to someone who never makes a decision, large or small, without first checking in with the wisdom of the “stillness within the silence.”

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As I climbed the corporate ladder in my banking career, I seemed to have it all. By all external measures of success, I was doing well. But I was miserable. So I began the logical, head-based process of finding a new job because it was the only thing I knew how to do. I had offers from two other banks, and I even decided to go back and get my MBA in finance to become a corporate comptroller but backed out at the last minute.

You see, even though it never “felt” right, finance and banking were all I knew. Everyone I talked to about careers outside of banking only reinforced my doubts, telling me it was almost impossible to change careers. And besides, if I didn’t work in the finance industry, what would I do? I had no idea what alternative career I wanted to pursue.

With my family and business background, I thought anything to do with spirit was just a bunch of mumbo-jumbo. That is until I became so unhappy with my career in banking that it made me physically ill—stomach problems, headaches, and anxiety attacks. I had exhausted all of the head-based approaches that I knew of to solve my work/life conflict. I was at the end of the line and was willing to try anything—even things that I thought were a little flaky.

Out of this newfound openness, I learned about various practices to access my internal guidance. I started reading spirit-related books, meditating, journal writing, and connecting to something greater than myself; all things that I had never done before.

Eleven years ago, if you told me, as I sat in the bank, that I would be reading spiritual books, meditating for 15 minutes daily, keeping a journal, and reconnecting to something greater, I would have said you were nuts! They were certainly not activities in which professional businesspeople like me engaged. Ironically, of course, businesspeople like me need these activities even more than monks.

And after a few months of consistently using the mind, body, spirit tools, I began to notice that I felt more peaceful and aware during the day. I felt more present and I paid closer attention to conversations or experiences I had. And I began to understand the information, or data, these conversations and experiences offered.

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It was at about this time that I had my life-changing conversation with the CEO that I described in the introduction. Also, I realized I had amassed a six-inch-thick folder of work/life-related articles in my desk. But I still didn’t know what all of this meant for my vision. Then one day, I finally understood.
As part of my morning routine at the bank, I ate my bagel, drank my coffee, and read The Wall Street Journal. Those of you who read the WSJ know that periodically they publish a special fourth section entirely devoted to one particular topic. On this morning, the WSJ’s Sue Shellenbarger devoted the entire fourth section to the field of work and family.

I sat at my desk in plain view of everyone well past 9 o’clock, devouring every word. When I had finished, I walked over to my boss’s desk, sat down, pointed to the work/family section, and said to her, “This is what I want to do.” She politely, but haltingly, responded “Well … okay.” I knew this was the vision that my internal guidance had for my work+life fit.

Now, from a purely logical perspective, this made no sense. But because I was reading, meditating, journal writing, and so forth, I had slowly started to understand what my internal guidance sounded like, and it was saying, “This feels right.” Now, people sometimes ask me “What do you mean ‘you knew’ it was your internal guidance? What did that knowing feel like?” The following words most accurately describe the feeling: clarity, focus, and peace.

For a moment, I had a sense of clarity and focus that this was it. Everything else in the room seemed to disappear—people, sounds, everything. It was so powerful; I can still feel it today. But, as powerful as it was, it wasn’t scary or anxiety-producing. In fact, that’s how I knew it was different from the other paths I thought were “it,” such as taking the other banking jobs or getting an MBA in finance.”

Have you had an experience or experiences like mine?  Did you internal guidance give you a powerful picture of what what your work+life fit might be someday?  Or maybe it’s a little glimmer, but getting clearer.  What does it look like?  Is there a practice you follow?

Entire “Work+Life Fit in 5 Days” Series:

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