An Integrated Life

A good friend of mine and mentor recently mentioned that he felt like I had done a decent job of creating an “integrated life,” one that included comprehensively the different aspects of one’s life, which might include the physical, mental, psychological, spiritual, professional, relational (family and beyond), recreational, etc.

I paused for a moment, namely because it was a great compliment but also because I’m not entirely sure how it happened (if it were, indeed true) and how I could also ensure that I could continue to do just that (because I believe this integration is important.

Finding integration with the variety of different elements in life is a constant battle, one that’s never won, even despite the integration.

You see, successful integration doesn’t mean that everything is necessarily in harmony with each other, rather, it actually punctuates the reality that all of them are interdependent and related (and accentuates the relative outcomes).

There have been times where some particular aspects of my life have been in serious tension with others while there have been a few times (less of these, for sure) where everything, at least momentarily, seemed to be working in a very pleasant cadence and uniform fashion.

Really, though, it was just that there were specific points that were going into alignment while others were beginning to work themselves out. The professional and relational components of my particular integration have always been at odds. For instance, historically the more I spend time with my ventures and/or startups/companies the less time I’ve spent with my family.

But I’m getting better at this (it takes a lot of practice and a lot of help from others) and I am consistently thinking through this dynamic daily. When one area feels flush another feels at a deficit, when one area gets significant “deposit” another area might feel withdrawn.

I don’t think this is a bad thing either. I think the most important thing is that you are cognizant of it and self-aware of it enough to get the help that you need (loving friends, family, and mentors/coaches), and that you commit to meeting with them, listening and receiving legitimate feedback, and that you actually do those things.

There is no solution and there certainly isn’t the so-called “balance” – I have never believed in that metaphor or model for life. Tension is much better one to use as it’s manageable, but not solvable.