Alignment, Complexity and the 80/20 rule

Jun 28, 2016

Alignment and the 80/20 Rule |

Dedicating my coaching practice to working with women going through their Third-Life Alignment has got me thinking a lot about what it means to be aligned.


And you know what I’m realizing?

Alignment is complex.


And anyone who tries to convince you that they feel completely aligned in their purpose, their sense of self 100% of the time is a damn liar.

You might be nodding your head and agreeing – of course it’s complex.  Everything is complex.  Life is complex.

But stay with me a little longer here.  Because I’d be willing to bet that there’s at least one person in your life – be they someone you know well or a famous person you admire from afar – that has you convinced, at least as far as their Instagram feed is concerned, that they live a fully aligned life all the time.

And let’s be honest:  seeing the online trappings of others’ seemingly perfect lives makes most of us feel like shit.  At the very least, we point our fingers accusingly and yell “fake!” with an audible twinge of jealousy.

I recently discovered the work of Dr. Robert Kegan, a Harvard psychology professor who has studied adult development and posits a theory that sounds very similar to the Third-Life Alignment concept.  Kegan describes one characteristic of this stage of people’s lives as being an increasing tolerance of complexity and contradiction.  He posits that we have a greater capacity during this time in our lives to conceive of the idea that two seemingly opposite things can both be true.

So to the Instagrammers whose lives look perfect, I propose we yell “boring!” and embrace that alignment probably works on the 80/20 principle.  I propose that we get deeply comfortable with

Pizza nights and green smoothies

Bill-paying day jobs and passionate side hustles

Bold adventures and being afraid of spiders

Living in the ‘burbs and being in a motorcycle club

I propose that we get okay with the fact that some days, weeks, months and even years will find us feeling more aligned with our beliefs, values, and desired ways of being than others.


I propose that we promise ourselves to make the more aligned choice most of the time, and know that that represents a life of just as much integrity as the ideal toward which we strive.

Your turn:


Do you feel more aligned some days than others?
What makes you feel most aligned with your beliefs, values and desired ways of being?
Are there any key areas of your life that feel really aligned, or really misaligned right now?


Are you going through a Third-Life Alignment?

The Becoming Podcast has been on a short hiatus while I focus on writing my book, but oh what a comeback episode I have for you!

This month, I spoke to Toko-pa Turner, who many of you may know as the unofficial patron saint of many of my circles and gatherings because of the sheer number of times I’ve quoted from the wisdom of her book, Belonging.

Toko-pa is a Canadian author, teacher, and dreamworker. Blending the mystical teachings of Sufism in which she was raised with a Jungian approach to dreams, she founded The Dream School in 2001, from which thousands of students have graduated. She is the author of the award-winning book, Belonging: Remembering Ourselves Home, which explores the themes of exile and belonging through the lens of dreams, mythology, and nature. This book has resonated for readers worldwide, and has been translated into 10 different languages so far. Her work focuses on the relationship between psyche and nature, and how to follow our inner wisdom to meet with the social, psychological, and ecological challenges of our time.

Here’s some of what Toko-pa and I talk about in this episode:

> The dream that changed Toko-pa’s life, causing her to question her career and, ultimately, her identity

> How we can court our dreams to support us during times of radical transformation – and the reasons so many of us have a hard time remembering and working with what shows up in our dreamscape

> Toko-pa’s perspective on the message of Belonging after the divisiveness our society has experienced in the years since it was published

> What happened for both Toko-pa and I when we fell out of belonging from the ideologies of the “wellness world”

> How to build community when you’re under-resourced

> “The Big Lie” when it comes to belonging, and how we can reclaim a sense of belonging to the greater family of things, as Mary Oliver so famously wrote

Listen to the episode on iTunes


Show Notes

Toko-pa’s Website

Belonging:  Remembering Ourselves Home, Toko-pa’s book

The David Abram video about animism mentioned in the interview

Toko-pa’s self-guided program, Dream Drops

Companion, the program that accompanies Belonging


Also, while you’re at it, if you enjoy The Becoming Podcast, I would be so grateful if you would rate and review, and even subscribe to it on iTunes.  That goes a long way to helping more and more people find and benefit from hearing these interviews!  Thank you so much!