It describes a person who is integrated, blended into a whole, as opposed to a person of many parts, many faces, many disconnects. James Stockdale from Thoughts of a Philosophical Fighter Pilot
I love this description of integrity. We (or maybe it’s just me) tend to think of character or honesty when we hear the word integrity, but James gives us a different spin on it that really makes me think of integrity more in terms of “integrated” and the connotation of wholeness and connectedness. Are we dealing with our financial lives in an integrated way? Just because we don’t cheat on our taxes, do pay our fair share, and don’t steal the post-its from the office doesn’t mean that we are dealing with our financial lives in an “integrated, blended into a whole” way.
Prioritizing Financial Life
Do you have conflicts in your financial lives? Duh – of course. Other than Bill Gates and Oprah, most of us have conflicting pulls on our money – pay down the debt, save for college, save for retirement, fix the leaky roof, get new tires, braces for the kids, take a vacation. The list of needs goes on and on and the paycheck runs out much too quickly. This is a life that does have conflicting parts.
It is much too easy to prioritize what is right in front of us (braces, leaky roof) and kick the can down the road on things like college savings and retirement. I do it all the time – “I’ll just get a few things for the house and next month, I will be able to focus on debt/college/retirement.” Next month will bring more leaks, more chipped paint, and more broken stuff that needs to be replaced. The circle of life has moved from the law of the jungle to Murphy’s law – if it can go wrong, it will.
Areas of financial focus
When this is life, we are not really living in integrity; we are living in a dis-integrated, pieces and parts way. It doesn’t feel good to be pulled in so many directions at the same time. It is hard to ignore those “squeaky wheels” that stare us in the face every day and keep our focus off the long-term. To be “living in integrity” does require a vision of wholeness, though. It isn’t easy (again, maybe it’s just me), but I think it is worthwhile for our mental wholeness and integrity (maybe integratedness.) Here are a few things that I am trying to think about as I work (always) on making my financial life “integrated” with what is truly important:
- Is this use of money in alignment with what is really a priority for me or is it a momentary distraction – (healthy cooking is in alignment with my priorities, but really, is another cookbook necessary when I can get 10 million free recipes with two clicks?)
- Is this use of money in alignment with my partner’s goals? (Do I really know my partner’s goals or do I just impose them on him? Let’s not ask him as the answer is likely to be embarrassing to me.)
- Will this make me feel better about myself and my goals a week or a month from now? (Honestly, the $200 that I spent updating my laundry room (ok! $300) makes me so happy every single time that I walk in there – like 5-times-a-day kind of happy. That was worth it. The Kombucha brewing kit is stabbing me with guilt every time I walk by the barely-opened box.)
- Where do I feel financially disconnected or dis-integrated – not falling apart disintegrated but not integrated, not connected, disjointed? Make a list, really. Writing it down gets it out of your head and into the light of day so that you can do something about it. Take the stuff you feel yucky about and write it down. The act of being honest is one of integrity (character kind of integrity) that will make you feel great about yourself. It is also one of honesty and wholeness. Embracing your greedy spoiled brat is an honest (if not particularly attractive) quality. Most of us have one so admitting it is the first step. Mine is super materialistic and demanding, ever-present, and quite vocal. I wish I could cultivate the minimalist mother-earth part of me that I know is in there, but she is quiet, shy, and probably off meditating somewhere while my spoiled brat is surfing amazon.com with my credit card. (Sigh – this is a never-ending inner battle).
When we live with integrity we are an integrated, complete whole rather than a dis-integrated, crumbling array of conflicting parts. Brian Johnson (aside – if you don’t know Brian, go to optimize.me – you are in for a treat! The quote above is from one of his Philosopher’s Notes ~ awesome!!)
- Where do you feel like a “crumbling array of conflicting parts”? Just admit it. Write it down and stay honest.
Now that you have ‘fessed up, just stay present with how you feel about this. It is really ok and completely human to be a bit of mess in some areas (or so I tell myself.) We are pretty on top of it most of the time so allow yourself to have a few areas that you are working on. If you do feel a bit dis-integrated and disjointed, ponder it. Ask yourself, “what is one thing that I can do right now to become more integrated, more whole, more connected to my truth?” Now. Do. It. Do that one thing. You will feel so good, so happy, so proud of yourself, that maybe, tomorrow, you will do one more thing. Yep, you know – just do it.
To your financial success (and integrity)!