Guest Opinion: Living an Integrated Life

By Ginny Wilson-Peters | President and owner, Integrity Integrated Inc.

“We make hundreds of choices every day. Ultimately our life stories become an expression of the choices we make. We have to be aware that we swing back and forth. It is choices all the time, not balance.” Warren Buffett

I agree with the concept that work-life “balance” isn’t the best wording as it just isn’t possible for many of us women to have every day in our lives to have equal balances between home and work. On some days, work will require more of your attention and that’s OK. On other times your personal life will require more of your attention and that’s OK as well.

I recently returned from a two-week vacation in northern Minnesota. We have taken this vacation for many years. Up until last year, I would take my computer with me and respond to emails and do work while I was on “vacation.”

Last year I decided to make a change. In reaching out to my great marketing staff, I asked them if they would be OK taking care of all of the things that I normally do — not just email responses but also handling payments and invoices that came up during that time. They were both thrilled with the fact that they could do this. So for the last two years I have truly been disconnected from my work focus and living an integrated life by focusing on my vacation and family time. And the good news is that this also helps to let my staff know that I value them for the things that they could clearly do. It is a win-win-win situation. Win for them, win for our clients and win for me.

The three most important items that I recommend when it comes to living an integrated life are:

1. The word “no” is a wonderful gift. Even if you’re someone who wants to be seen as successful and people-oriented, it is still important to be able to say no. And a reminder that saying “no” is a complete sentence. If you find yourself telling someone specifics about why you are saying no, then you are giving them the chance to judge you or try to convince you to change your mind. So, again, it is OK to just say “no” or say “no, I am not available to do that at this time.”

2. Take time each week to focus on nurturing yourself. I love the quote from Steven Covey when he said “Schedule your priorities, don’t prioritize your schedule.” In other words, rather than looking at your schedule at the beginning of the week and prioritizing your schedule, be sure that things that are your priorities are on your schedule. For me, I am very committed to exercise and physical workouts. I schedule those on my weekly schedule. As part of our Integrity Integrated Women’s Leadership Development program I have women do an exercise where they identify their 10-15 favorite things to do. And then my request is that you analyze whether you are truly spending the time that you want to do your favorite things. I encourage you to do the same exercise.

3. Ask for what you want from others. Many women (myself included) can think that our spouses, co-workers, and/or managers should know what we want. While that might be the case, it is best to make sure that you reach out to someone for something that you want (or don’t want).

Ginny Wilson-Peters is widely recognized as a leadership expert. As president and owner of Integrity Integrated Inc., Wilson-Peters shares her expertise with others through coaching, teaching and consulting with business leaders locally and throughout the world. In addition to her work as a leadership development consultant, Wilson-Peters is a lecturer at the University of Iowa PMBA and Exec MBA programs and an active member of her community.