Life & Work Aligned

Calm in the Midst of Chaos

A 'Life Aligned' means aligning our inner life with our outer one. This means aligning our choices with
who we are, instead of what we believe the world expects from us. While the two are often in harmony, they aren't always, and when we practice life alignment, we reserve a space to make the choices that are aligned with what life has inspired us to ask for. Essentially, we want to create our outer-life from our inner-one. Each improvement in alignment between our inner and outer life helps us toward greater opportunity for happiness, success and overall wellbeing.

Within our practice of life alignment, our choices include what what desires we want to pursue, which values we prioritize; what thoughts and beliefs we choose; how we use our intention; where we place our attention; what we include in our attitude, or emotional approach; and how we use our imagination.

Many organizations are promoting healthy work/life balance as a part of an overall wellness approach. Many employees and independent businesspeople are seeking a better work/life balance, too. But what if you are unhappy with your work and/or home life? It's not just about work/life balance; it's about aligning from the inside out.

Imagine you decide to ride your bicycle to a nearby ice cream shop for your favorite sundae. You hop on the bike and set off on the first leg of your route, but just a few minutes into the ride, you notice that your front wheel is wobbly—so wobbly, that you are having trouble keeping the bike on course.

As you veer back and forth trying to keep control of the situation, you swing too close to a group of shrubs lining the road, and your spokes catch a protruding stick, stopping your bike short and throwing you off.

You pick yourself up and survey the damage: the sundae will have to wait, for treating your bruises and repairing your bike are now your top priority. In just a few moments, you've gone from pursuing a goal, to repairing damage.

The story above could nicely illustrate how beliefs and thoughts that are not aligned with our desires can knock us off course, or even keep us from achieving what we want in life.

The ice cream shop symbolizes a goal or desire that you want to achieve, and the sundae is the reward. The bike represents your skills and other wherewithal that you can use to accomplish your goal.

To take it a bit further, think of the wobbly wheel as your doubts about you and your abilities. Lastly, consider the stick in the spokes as representing beliefs that aren't aligned with your desire.

This is living life out of alignment.

Dreams are the touchstones of our character.

~Henry David Thoreau

If we want to our lives to reflect more of what we want, we we also want to consider how well we are aligning our thoughts with the objectives and desires that are most important to us. For real gains to happen, we need to eliminate conflicts between how we think and feel, and what we want.

A somewhat oversimplified example: a manager desires more productivity in his department, yet believes (quite intensely) that most employees of subordinate level are incompetent. This conflict of thinking vs. desire will generate stress.

In turn, the stress may cause miscues and subtle messages of failure from the manager to his team1, increasing the probability of his team suffering further productivity drops—not to mention the negative effect on mood and overall wellbeing of the manager himself.

The solution? The choice is a highly personal one, but if the overarching desire is to reduce stress, enjoy a greater level of inner harmony, and enhance results, then our manager must either choose a new team, or begin to look for and nurture competency in his existing one.

Regardless, in this case, a choice of more successful beliefs and thoughts more aligned with his desire for a a high-performing team are his best course. If the manager were to hire a new team, and yet stick to his original negative beliefs about incompetency, he would continue to look for trouble, and these beliefs would manifest in everything from his hiring practices, to his treatment of a new team.

The Life Alignment approach is covered in detail in all Success Waypoint workshops, and in Mark Petruzzi's individual coaching sessions. Coaching clients are encouraged to take the Via Character Strengths assessment and obtain a Character Strengths Profile as part of their coaching experience, since a knowledge of character strengths is useful in Life Alignment practice.
1In the Harvard Business Journal article Social Intelligence and the Biology of Leadership (reprint R0809E), Daniel Goleman and Richard Boyatzis provide convincing evidence of the impact of leadership attitude, and even facial expression, on team productivity.