After reading James Clear’s first annual integrity report, I decided to start a similar yearly ritual where I review the prior year. My intention with this type of annual report is to ensure that I am living in alignment with my values, always reaching for a higher standard and doing work that matters.
His integrity report focuses on three questions, and I’ve chosen to stick with them.
- What are the core values that drive my life?
- How am I living and working with integrity right now?
- How can I set a higher standard and lead with more integrity in the future?
1. What are the core values that drive my life?
Here are my core values and some questions that I use to think more deeply about each area.
Growth (Learning, Taking Action and Moving Forward)
- Am I learning and improving my life?
- Am I taking bold actions on the things that matter most?
- Am I moving forward, standing still or regressing?
Work Ethic (Doing what matters, Focus, Intensity)
- Am I doing what matters to me?
- Am I focused on only what matters?
- Am I pursuing my goals with intensity?
Simple Living (Minimalism, Happiness, Responsibility)
- Am I living what I consider to be a simple life?
- Am I allowing myself to be happy in who I am right now?
- Am I taking appropriate amounts of responsibility in my family and work life?
Resilience (Grit, Toughness, Perseverance)
- Am I mentally, emotionally and physically strong?
- Am I persevering through challenges or giving up too easily?
- Am I unwavering and a rock of stability for those in my life?
2. How am I living and working with integrity now?
Here are some choices and changes I made over the past year to lead with more integrity.
Choosing to work on projects that matter. In the past, I would take on any client who would pay my monthly retainer fee. This choice made me feel that I was selling out for the almighty dollar, especially when I would promote products or services that did not match my levels of personal integrity. I now work with a select number of clients who have similar levels of integrity, and this has made a major difference in my gratification levels at work.
I still have a ways to go with intention, as I’d ideally like to work full-time for one client/company whose mission aligns more closely with at least one of my core values.
Saying no when I cannot give a project 100%. I am prone to saying “yes” to projects that are somewhat aligned with my areas of expertise, rather than being selective and working only within my zone of genius. It’s easy to add on projects that are either too time-consuming or take away from my focus. I look for projects that work synergistically with my other projects. This allows me to have enough of a brain left to work on personal projects and devote time to spend with my family and loved ones.
Putting the needs of my family first. I tend towards workaholism. During the past few years, it’s been challenging for me to move away from the life of a single person into the role of being a wife, stepmom, mom to a toddler and an expectant mother (in my 8th month of pregnancy at this writing). Balancing all the roles I play in my family with working full-time and writing as much possible is a challenge. At times, I’ve needed to step away from the computer, pomodoro timer and my rigid time-blocked calendar to enjoy spending time with each of them. The kids will be all grown up soon, and I will regret not having given them the attention and love they deserve.
Choosing quality time over a little extra money. Because of the fast-paced culture we live in, I find myself getting sucked into the hamster wheel of making more money, whether or not it’s an absolute necessity. This leads to a loss of quality time working on those projects that matter most to me and having enough time to spend with the family. By purposefully limiting the amount of work I do for others, I gain quality time in my day, which I use for personal development, professional development, recreation, reading, writing and family.
3. How can I set a higher standard in the future?
To make progress, we must set higher standards for those areas we most want to improve.
Begin a purposeful search for the ideal company. It’s been a goal of mine to find a position at a company that resonates closely with my own values. I would be honored to partner with or become a team member at a company where values that matter to me are at the core of the business model. I’ve come across about a dozen companies already, and it’s time to start nurturing those relationships and exploring opportunities there. I know my life’s purpose isn’t to build my own empire but to support someone else, who is already doing so.
Empower others to discover self-mastery. The journey to self-mastery is one that is eye-opening and allows us to embrace our authentic selves and get the best from our lives. My intention through my writing, my books and my relationships is to help people open their eyes and discover themselves. Through self-discovery, we can move into self-mastery, which ultimately leads to a fulfilled and happy life.
More discipline with my writing. In my early 20s, I had developed a rigorous writing and reading routine. As responsibilities have shifted, I feel that I have lost the discipline and structure necessary to achieve my writing ambitions. It’s just like starting an exercise routine -- begin with a small amount of exercise that you can do consistently before increasing frequency and intensity. I would like to be able to write 1,000 - 2,000 words/day, which will require a lot of dedication, support from my family and focused attention on my writing practice.
Mastery: Turning Pro. These are my three words for 2016, and I’d like to be able to say that I’ve “turned pro” as a writer and am on the path towards mastery by the end of this year. The hard part will be staying on track with this goal, while also bringing a new child into this world and maintaining productivity in other areas of my life. I’m up for the challenge!
The Bottom Line
It’s tough to lose our integrity completely, but what can happen is that we justify our excuses and make allowances for “skipping a particular habit.” Though unforeseen circumstances can sidetrack us, we should be prepared for these. Overcoming them is a part of developing resilience.
The reason I am sharing this report is to hold myself accountable to the excuses I know will show themselves this year. It’s time for me to raise my standards and continue moving forward, not as a selfish pursuit but to live out my purpose of helping others.
We all still have a long way to go, but when we focus on keeping the things in our life that contribute to our success and choose one or two ways we can improve, it is possible to make progress on what matters most.
Your Turn: Have you ever considered assessing your life in terms of integrity? Would you consider doing an annual integrity report? I’d love to hear how you are living according to your values and making progress on what matters to you!