WHAT IS THE WHOLE SELF LIFESTYLE™?
The Whole SELF Lifestyle™ is a philosophy and a practical framework to help working parents address the logistical and psychological challenges they face as they try to blend work, family, and life in general. It gives working parents a personalized roadmap to improve these three essential areas of their life simultaneously.
As a working parent, your to-do list is endless. You never get a moment to rest because there’s always something urgent that needs your attention. You’re in survival mode, and you can’t see any way out of it right now. So you power through your day, and hope tomorrow will be better (it never is).
There’s no longer a dividing line between work and personal time in our day. We’re bombarded with responsibilities and obligations in all areas of our lives – all day, every day. Burnout is on the rise, and has recently been classified as a global medical disorder by the World Health Organization.
We try to overcome our overwhelm by numbing out through over-work, social media, and binge-watching TV, rather than engaging in activities and relationships that actually fill us up. Finding a way to manage our external responsibilities in a noisy and demanding world is critical to finding happiness as a working parent.
Daniel Goleman, author of the groundbreaking book, Emotional Intelligence, identifies five different components of Emotional Intelligence:
- Self-Awareness (confidence, recognition of feelings)
- Emotional Regulation (self-control, trustworthiness, adaptability)
- Motivation (drive, commitment, initiative, optimism)
- Empathy (understanding others feelings, diversity, political awareness)
- Interpersonal Relationships (leadership, conflict management, communication skills)
Understanding and integrating all five of these elements into our lives as working parents is essential to enjoying our experience in the world… at home, at work, and everywhere else. As modern society becomes more obsessed with qualities such as achievement, hustle, and success, we’re losing touch with many of these other elements that make life worth living. It’s time to re-orient our lives around these critical components of Emotional Intelligence.
As external demands continue to accumulate in our daily lives, we’re distracted from the more nebulous (but more meaningful) questions of working parenthood:
- How can I continue to thrive in this career I worked so hard to build, while still being engaged and present at home?
- How do I integrate the parts of myself that energize and fulfill me, without sacrificing everything else?
- Which parts of my past self do I want to bring into my future? Who am I right now, in this stage of life?
- How can I create a life that will give me fond memories, rather than regrets?
These are important questions. They guide just about every decision, thought, and behavior we have. Yet most of us are too overwhelmed to explore our shifting identity in any sort of useful way. As a result, we’re increasingly influenced by outside opinions, advice, demands, and ideals. Knowing ourselves, and operating from a solid sense of SELF, is the key to enjoying life as a working parent.
THE WHOLE SELF LIFESTYLE™ METHOD
The Whole SELF Lifestyle™ is an approach to life as a working parent. It’s not a solution in and of itself. It’s sort of a higher-level guide to help you understand not only the surface-level symptoms you’re feeling, but also the true source of your struggles within the context of a larger system. Once you have that deeper understanding, you can make more effective choices based on what you need in each moment.
We use the acronym S.E.L.F. to break down this philosophy into practice, what I call the Whole SELF Lifestyle™ Method. This framework guides busy working parents through four specific stages of self-discovery, so they can improve and blend all of the most important areas of their lives.
Self-discovery happens, and can only happen, if you’re integrating all four of these steps. Most people today spend all of their time in the EVALUATE step, ignoring all of the other stages of the growth process. This contributes to those feelings of overwhelm, failure, and guilt since they’re just consuming information without any strategy, direction or purpose.
FOUR STEPS OF THE
WHOLE SELF LIFESTYLE™ METHOD
Our lives are made up of a complex series of internal and external systems that operate simultaneously. The more efficient each part of these systems are, and the more they’re designed to operate in congruence with each other, the happier and healthier we feel in our lives – the more WHOLE we are. The first step of the Whole SELF Lifestyle™ framework is to complete an inventory of the different systems that are operating in your unique life right now so you can use that reality as a starting point for lasting change.
Once you have identified the different systems that are currently active in your life, it’s time to evaluate each one to see what’s working for you, and what isn’t. You also analyze how all of the systems are working together in your life. Then you decide what you want your life to look like – your ideal. Once you’ve analyzed these systems, and how things are working together, then you can identify what needs to happen to get from where you currently are, to where you want to go.
The first two steps of the Whole SELF Lifestyle™ framework provide clarity and a roadmap for change. Now you’re in a position to brainstorm the action steps that will improve different areas of your life. This is when it’s helpful to do research, listen to podcasts, read books, get advice, etc. Then you can make an educated decision about your next steps. Doing the first two steps of this framework limits overwhelm and bright shiny object syndrome, and allows you to focus on the best next steps for you in this moment of your life.
In this final step, you implement and experiment. You try out the different action steps you brainstormed in the last step. You decide what really works for you, your family, your career, and your life – and what doesn’t. You discard what doesn’t work, and you repeat what does work so it becomes a new habit in your life. You refine and evolve based on what you learn. Over time, you familiarize yourself with new ways of being in the world, new habits, new routines, and a more satisfying lifestyle that’s centered around your WHOLE SELF.