Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Towards Integrative Life Planning - Introduction to ILP Part 1 of 8

Have you ever wondered if it is possible to integrate the many, often conflicting elements of your life?

If so, then the following set of articles is for you.  Our series on integrative life planning covers a life planning model that should help you to answer some of the questions on how to integrate the various roles, responsibilities, and values of your life.  

Introduction to New Paradigm for Life Planning

The world (of work) known to us today is vastly different from the one our parents and their parents knew. In the course of the previous century, it was common practice to leave school, be trained in a certain discipline, find a job, and retire in the same company forty years later. 

Work was seen to be the domain of just that: work. There was no time or space for one’s family, your spirituality, or any other related issue to be brought to the office. It was as if we lived two separate lives!

Towards the end of the 20th century, a new paradigm started to evolve and this has given rise to an approach known as “Integrative Life Planning”. This approach is relating the societal context to the individual, families, to education, and work.

It is seen as a lifelong process where we will be busy identifying our primary needs, roles, and goals and integrating them within ourselves, our work, our family, and the bigger community. 

This model is based on interaction, is relation oriented, and is aimed at helping us achieve greater meaning, wholeness, satisfaction, and a sense of community in our lives. 

Finally, this new approach is providing a model through which we can shape the direction of our own lives, assist others to become empowered, to manage change and to contribute to the larger society. 

By adopting this approach, it becomes possible to develop a big picture perspective – we no longer only live for ourselves, but start doing things, which will benefit our community and bigger society.

Now, how do the above aspects take shape in the lives of people? 

Firstly, there needs to be a move towards integrative thinking. Start by looking at the manner in which learning material is presented: one can no longer get by through linear thinking - you need to think of how various issues could be integrated to take it to the “next level”. 

We are also encouraged to think about the big picture:  the necessity to demonstrate holistic thinking as opposed to traditional reductionist thinking where less is more. More often than not, complex challenges (problems) require complex solutions. 

One would also need to demonstrate a new kind of self-knowledge, as you need to see where and how you fit into 21st century society. 

Implementing the process of “Integrative Life Planning” requires hard work, and this is usually structured in terms of six critical tasks for career development and changing life patterns. 

In following postings, these tasks will be presented in a slightly less abstract manner and some guidelines will be provided as to how these can be implemented.

The six critical tasks associated with Integrative Life Planning

The six tasks of ILP is described as follows: 

1.                  Finding work that needs doing in changing global contexts

2.                  Weaving our lives into a meaningful whole

3.                  Connecting family and work

4.                  Valuing pluralism and inclusivity

5.                  Managing personal transitions and organisational change

6.                  Exploring spirituality and life purpose

In closing, it will be useful to employ a metaphor to fully understand the relationship between the above six tasks. Consider the tasks to form part of a quilt (stitching together many pieces of cloth, usually in an ornamental pattern); for every individual, a different task will be at the core and others at the periphery. 

The process of ILP enables individuals to rearrange the order of these different pieces of material. If, for instance, you feel there should be more spirituality at the core of your existence, the process will assist you in achieving exactly that. 

In our next article (Part 2 of 6), we will look at career planning in the emerging world-of-work.

(Based on the work of Sunny Hansen: Integrative Life Planning: Critical Tasks for Career Development and Changing Life Patterns). 

This article was written by Hennie Scheepers and is used with his permission.  

Hennie Scheepers obtained his doctorate at the University of Johannesburg and works as a Research, Career Development and Coaching Consultant.