Now that we know that work-life balance is a perfectionist myth that keeps us feeling like we aren’t doing enough, we need another framework — the Integrated Plan. Instead of dividing, compartmentalizing and comparing our different areas of life, let’s look toward integration. Integration means creating a life that’s less like a pie chart and more like a beautiful (and somewhat-wild) flower garden. There’s an intention. There’s some structure. There’s some maintenance. At the same time there is also creativity, surprise, beauty, collaboration, evolution and fulfillment.
Here are the basic principles underlying how to create an Integrated Plan.
- Choose a theme. When you look toward your year, pause for a moment and choose an overarching theme instead of jumping into detailed goal-setting. For example, Tiara Managing Partner Andrea Henning shares, “My theme for 2015 is experiencing the preciousness of this journey.” You can see that within this theme there will be presence, gratitude and adventure in all areas, no matter what the goals might be.
- Remember your core values. Living from a stated set of core values provides a foundation for flexible decision-making that still feels cohesive. Tiara Managing Partner Franciska Moors says, “Having a strong set of values makes me feel good about my yes’s and my no’s, both during planning and in the day-to-day decision making.” When all goals on your integrated plan — whether they are goals for work, family, health, money, spirituality, friendships or adventure — reflect your core values, you have a sense of integrity and integration across your whole life.
- Consider all areas of life. Instead of diving deep into a business plan or a list of parenting goals, do a whole life review where you consider all areas of life that are important to you. Reflect on where you are and what you most want next. During this process, it’s extremely important to make sure you are articulating your desires and goals from a place of inspiration, not from a place of what you “should” accomplish. If you fall into that trap, you will create a heavy, burdensome list of To Do Items instead of an inspiring, attractive collection of desires.
- Embrace messy. Tiara Managing Partner Elizabeth Ruske shares, “My version of integrated planning is messy, just like my life. I need to fly from topic to topic, moving between professional and personal agendas all day long. This suits my personality, and it also helps me be focused and present on what is in front of me. Accepting this about myself ensures that no part of my life is ignored for too long, and that is important to me. I feel like I can be all of me, all the time, at any time.
- Create a visual and step back. Finally, you want to capture your integrated plan in a visual way so that you can step back and review it throughout the year. This might be a typed 1 – 2 page plan that you carry in your briefcase or post on your refrigerator. It might be a collage of pictures that remind you of all of your priorities in a colorful way. It might be a quote that leads you in the direction of your heart, which a bulleted list of that month’s top priorities underneath. What’s important is that it gives you a sense of remembering, direction, inspiration and insight when you step back and take a look.