Ever heard of an integrity report? It’s my yearly ritual (adapted from James Clear) where I publicly review the prior year. My intention with this report is to ensure 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.
Professional Growth: I participated in Seth Godin’s altMBA program.
This experience was the gamechanger of the year for me. I literally took money from my Roth IRA (not ideal, I know) to participate in the program. It was money well spent. Challenging my current career path, altMBA showed me another way to show up in the world and helped me unveil my truest self and my purpose. I now know why I’m headed where I’m headed.
Personal Growth: I invested in working with a therapist and with a life coach.
Up to this point, I thought therapy was only for extreme situations. But, when I felt myself struggling to balance life, work and family, I decided to go to therapy. A bit of a skeptic when I started and a believer when I finished. My work life balance is much improved. I have found ways to deal with my workaholic nature. And, I’ve prioritized my relationships with the hubby and with the kiddos.
Life coaching is an endeavor I began after attending the 2016 Global Women’s Leadership Summit. It’s very different than therapy, but it’s allowing me to explore my career opportunities, my vision for the future and how to deal with the everyday struggles of being a full-time working mother. Highly recommend it.
Work Ethic: I began focusing on the right things.
Coming from a family of entrepreneurs, I feel pressure to build my own business. After watching Simon Sinek’s TED talk, Start With Why, and reading his book, I realized I am more of a “how” person. This means I am in my zone of genius when I am building systems and methodologies to support someone else’s why—not my own. This insight was huge for me. Instead of trying to build my own products and my own business, I have shifted into furthering the vision of my current employer, The Conversion Company.
I also rebranded my website to align with my work in B2B marketing, and that has made all the difference. Building a stronger personal brand as a subject matter expert is opening doors for me, and I am excited to see where it leads.
Simple Living: I turned down six-figure opportunities.
Because my personal brand is going strong and my LinkedIn profile is optimized, I receive quite a few InMails from recruiters. I’ve gotten near the final rounds of a few great opportunities before putting on the brakes. I asked myself questions like: What’s it for? Why? How does this align with my values? These questions reminded me what really matters to me and why that six-figure salary is not all it’s cracked up to be.
I love my lifestyle and time with my family far more than I love getting the extras—and stress—that come along with a bigger paycheck.
Resilience: I channeled my energy into getting strong in all areas of my life (physical, mental, emotional.)
In the physical sense, I birthed my second baby naturally and drug-free. I trained at the gym until one day before delivery, and I was back at the gym one week post-partum. I wouldn’t recommend that regimen for most women, but it worked for me. Since that time, I’ve had a pregnancy-induced umbilical hernia repaired and have worked through a nasty bout of pelvic floor pain. All while continuing my fitness regimen and working up to a 250lb. Back Squat and 315lb. Deadlift.
Building mental fortitude has always been important to me. As much as I love biohacking with the latest-and-greatest gadgets, gizmos and supplements, I decided to wean myself off them and stick with the simplest biohacks. Cold showers. Meditation. Less coffee. ROMWOD. Getting enough sleep. Eating simpler foods. Instead of feeling like I was missing out, I discovered that I was stronger than I gave myself credit for.
The word, emotional, has always been a trigger for me. I prided myself on being able to stifle emotions and just move forward. In working with my therapist, I have learned that feeling and expressing emotions are essential to being a well-rounded individual. I’m still a novice when it comes to processing emotions, but I’m getting there.
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.
Go back to school and finish my undergrad.
I already have one undergrad degree, but it’s from an unaccredited institution. This means when I tried to apply to a credible MBA program this year, I did not get very far. My options were to try to get into one of two MBA programs that might not require a degree (with very slim chances of succeeding) or sucking it up and going back to school for my B.S. in Business Administration. I chose the latter. I begin classes in Spring 2017.
Continue building a strong personal brand.
Becoming more of a subject matter expert is what it’s going to take for me to get to the next level in my career while I’m going back to school. It will be challenging to keep up with weekly blog posts and email newsletters, but it’s my commitment to my future self. She will thank me for putting in the extra effort to maintain my brand and craftsmanship when the time comes for me to make a career jump.
Be more disciplined with my writing.
This was on last year’s integrity report, but I had a different focus. At that time, I thought I wanted to be a fiction author. I since discovered that non-fiction writing is more viable and aligned with my personal and professional goals. Moving into 2017, I would like to continue writing one blog post a week, submitting guest articles and keeping up with my weekly email newsletter.
Shakeups do not always require decisive action.
My hubby and I were discussing this earlier today. We consider ourselves people of action. The problem is that every time a shakeup happens, we immediately attempt to take action rather than taking time to pause and objectively analyze the situation. We are making the commitment this year to assess a situation thoroughly before “doing something” prematurely.
The Bottom Line
When we sacrifice our values to pursue things that make sense in the moment, we often lose our integrity. Then, we justify our excuses and make it okay.
This year will bring its share of ups and downs. Resilience is how I plan to weather them.
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 assessed 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!