When it comes to making changes in your life, it’s important to not just get started, but maintain enough focus that you maintain momentum. This is true to any kind of self-development and growth work from learning about racism to owning your story to diving into your secret desires. Making progress demands you keep moving. Right? Yet one of the things that no one seems to talk about when it comes to personal growth work integration.
We all hit roadblocks when it comes to pursing our goals. And while no one wants to lose that power of momentum, sometimes you need to take a short break to process what you’ve learned. Taking the opportunity to simply pause long enough to chart your progress and celebrate the victories along your journey. The moment to sit with a cup of coffee and simply be rather than do.
I call it the Grace of Integration.
I know that there will be a lot of pressure to keep going. Because taking a journey of self-growth demands that you keep going. Otherwise, there’s the chance you’ll backslide into old ways. There will be fear, too. Worrying that if you pause you pause, you’ll stall. And never get started again.
Of course, we can’t forget our inner critic when it comes to how our minds might see a pause. Even if our mind knows we are choosing to take time for integration, that inner critic will whisper that we are weak. Or that we “always” give up on ourselves.
One of the challenges of self-growth is that moment when our inner critic digs in their heels. And demands we go no further. Yet, often, we confuse our inner critic with our inner wisdom. Because too often, people push themselves beyond their limits and burnout. And once burnout hits, it will be hard to get started again.
The truth is that getting burned out while doing self-development work is a sign that your brain (and soul) needed the time for integration rather than pushing ahead. That this sacred pause is not just a part of your growth. It’s critical to ensuring you continue to grow.
Is integration an excuse to not get out of your comfort zone?
I am sure you’ve seen quotes and phrases like: “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone”. And while growth demands that we stretch our minds, bodies, and souls beyond our normal, everyday that doesn’t mean you have to constantly be uncomfortable. Trust me. I know a lot about how to manage the ebbs of flows of growth so that you ensure you integrate what you’ve learned. And can keep growing.
I once had a coach tell me that if I didn’t commit to her mastermind, I was choosing to stay small. That self-development meant I needed to keep pushing ahead. But my soul was begging for rest. In the previous seven months, my mother had died, I fell in love, changed jobs, sold my home of 22 years, and moved from Texas to Ohio.
I had made tremendous leaps in my self-development. Yet, I hadn’t taken the time to settle into the person I had become. So, I trusted my gut, didn’t commit to the mastermind, and that was the right choice. Because without taking the time for integration, it’s easier to become stagnant and stuck. Or never quite become the person you desire to be.
When you are longing for rest or comfort in the midst of growth work it’s a sign from your soul to make time for the integration of your progress.
Just like when we were little and learning to read, it was important to comprehend what we read, integration is how we ensure that our growth sinks in. It’s a necessary part of the journey. In fact, I would argue that in some cases, it can be the most critical step you’ll take.
If you want to make changes in your life, then don’t fear the pause. Because that pause is going to ensure that not only are you making true progress, you are choosing to do so in a way that ensures your changes stick around.
So as you make the journey into becoming a better version of yourself, make a part of that journey some time to take a break. Rest up a bit to ensure you don’t burnout. Dive into routines and rituals that nourish you and revel in simple pleasures. Journal about where you were and how far you’ve come.
This is how integration works for your development. And before you know it, you’ll be ready to get back to it. And grow to be more brilliant than you ever dreamed possible.