Have you ever felt like you are living a bunch of separate lives? One part of you the is “work” person, the other part of you is the socializer, another part of you is the artist… but how do they all integrate?
Let’s turn on the time machine…
When I was 15 I went to a “girls in technology camp” where I met a girl we’ll call Alice. Every one in the camp was computer savvy, but we all came to computers for different reasons. Alice loved to read up on occult topics, and one day she decided she’d tell me something about my life by looking at my palm.
Being the naïve girl that I was (and sometimes still am) I listened. Here’s what Alice told me: that my personal life and work life would be one and the same. Now I have no clue if she knew what she was talking about, or if palm reading has any bearing on reality.
But I do know this: I have been moving more and more toward integrating my personal life with my work life. Whether it’s fate or you get what you expect, but I know that it feels better this way.
It wasn’t always like this
I’ve found that the more things I take on, the more projects I start, and the more “wants” I have the more scattered I become. Each part of my personality has a bunch of options to choose from unrelated to the other parts of me. It’s like if each of the infinite possibilities for my life’s path are competing for attention in my brain.
Newsflash: my brain is not infinite. It gets pretty crowded in there as it is without adding all of these compartments.
So what’s the solution to living a more integrated life? Aiming to find that sweet spot where everything flows, where you are the same person in your work as you are with friends or in your pajamas…
The woo-woo self-help addict in me says that it all starts with aligning with your values. But I think there’s more to it than that. Even if everything you do is in alignment with your values, it can still feel like you’re living a double life.
The real solution
It starts with being honest with yourself. Yes, values come into play. But without being truly honest about who you are, what you’re up to, and what you can contribute you’re just going to keep compartmentalizing your life away.
For example, I’ve been running a raw food business for almost two years now. But I’m also a Software Engineer with valuable technology skills. For the first year of running my raw food business I tried to stuff myself into the raw food coach box, while ignoring my programmer-self.
I thought it was working, but I kept thinking there was more to life (and business) than this. Then I started getting the urge to program again. The need for it arose when I wanted to create a really cool solution for planning weekly meals. But since I had compartmentalized myself, I didn’t think I should program it myself.
Because of what I considered to be my “entrepreneur-self” I ignored a valuable part of myself.
It wasn’t until I paid a developer to work on it and experienced the let down after they quit without delivering that I woke up to what I was doing. In trying to “be the business owner” I was forgetting that I had the talents to further my business by building a really cool software system.
As soon as I embraced what I considered to be part of my past, everything came together much more quickly than I thought possible. The plugin was ready for beta, and I was making progress that felt really GOOD. I was in the flow of creating, and I was getting good feedback from people who tried it.
Now I know there are still a few more parts of me that need to be integrated. More places where I need to be brutally honest with myself. Places like my love for public speaking and being on stage. Sharing my artistic side beyond recipes or photos.
Until then, my palms are telling me that integrating all aspects of my life into one is the way to go.
Over to you now
What parts of your life could you integrate?
What are you keeping separate because of fear or just because you didn’t see the compartmentalization?