Note: For ten weeks, I am using the Dream Coaching® program to work on my dream of finishing and publishing a book about my trip to Uganda, and I am reporting on my progress in my weekly column. As always, my column is posted on my blog every Friday. To read the series from the beginning, start with the introductory post, dated May 3, 2013.

“Integrity is doing the right thing, even if nobody is watching.”

I don’t know the source of that quote, but I know it’s a pretty good definition of integrity. Integrity isn’t just about being honest or a good person. It’s about being true to your beliefs and your values. It’s about living your faith, and being the same person on the inside that others can see on the outside.

Integrity is also about honoring your word – the promises you make to others, and the promises you make to yourself – and that’s the focus of Session Two of the Dream Coaching Program.

In terms of keeping your word and your promises, what’s your integrity level? On a scale of 1 to 10 – ten being the best and one being the worst – how would you rate yourself?

You don’t really have to answer that. In fact, you can’t, mainly because when it comes to keeping your word, you probably have different levels of integrity in different areas of your life. You may have more integrity when it comes to keeping your word to others than you do when fulfilling the promises you make to yourself. Many of us are that way, and it’s why our own dreams and personal goals often take a back seat to our obligations to others.

Not only that, but things that you enjoy doing or that come naturally to you are probably the things that always get done – or get done first. Promises related to them are easily kept. But things that you find difficult, tedious, or time-consuming often get pushed down in priority or fall by the wayside, along with your promises to complete them. Strengthening your “integrity muscle” will help you get them done, which is especially important if they are necessary in order to achieve your dreams and goals. In the process, you’ll also improve your reputation and credibility with others, and your satisfaction and confidence in yourself.

One of the exercises in Session Two of Dream Coaching is to write down, in different areas of our lives, the “incompletes” that need to be addressed in order to pursue our dreams. The purpose of this isn’t to build a comprehensive to-do list, but to see and eliminate some of the mental clutter, emotional baggage, and physical bottlenecks that may be keeping us from focusing on our dreams. Doing so gives us a clean and clear path to travel, allowing us to achieve them much more quickly and easily.

Even though I’ve used the program myself several times, and I go through this exercise regularly with my coaching clients, it was eye-opening and humbling to realize how many nagging little odds and ends are keeping me from focusing on my dream of finishing and publishing the book about my trip to Uganda, and how much mental and emotional energy – including guilt and distractedness – it takes to carry around all that unfinished business. Writing down all the incomplete items, and scheduling the time and attention to take care of them – whether it’s by doing them, deferring them, or simply letting them go – frees up enormous amounts of energy and enthusiasm that I can now channel into working on my book.

Among the tasks and goals I set for myself this week were to continue my routine of working on the book first thing every morning, to fill out the inventory pages for the “incompletes” in my life, and to make a dent in the lists by completing and getting rid of several specific items. All of the items I chose had to do with Uganda, although they weren’t directly related to the book.

The pearl of wisdom that came to me this week was that I need to do a better job of determining how much I can accomplish in a set amount of time, and setting my goals accordingly. I want the commitments I make to be a stretch, but achievable. That’s what will keep me going and help me achieve my dream, while giving me milestones to recognize and celebrate along the way.

If you’re working on a dream of your own while I’m working on mine, spend some time this week writing down some of the “incompletes” in your life – the nagging projects, chores, emotional baggage or unfinished business that may be keeping you from focusing and working on the dream you hope to achieve. Determine what you need to do to get rid of these obstacles and bottlenecks, and start doing whatever you can to get them off your plate and out of your mind. Then stand in the integrity of knowing you are being true to yourself, true to your values, and true to your dreams.

The column “Find Your Buried Treasure” appears weekly in the Chanhassen (MN) Villager. This column was published on May 16, 2013.
©Betty Liedtke, 2013
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