In this post we take a look at how tolerations and boundaries impact our lives. So, what are you tolerating? Where do you and where don’t you set boundaries? When do you feel that you lie down and get walked on? When do you step fully through the doorways that are important to you? If you live for career life balance, then it is easier to define what is important and how to get more of it.
That’s the good news; the other news is that life is a journey. The other day I finished up a meeting and got into my car with a sigh. This sigh was a mix of frustration, anger and relief. Isn’t it amazing that one breath can contain so much? And then, as I began to think, the frustration and anger parts began to take over. I had just left a situation where I was definitely the doormat, and I didn’t like it. I didn’t say what I wanted, I didn’t articulate how I saw the situation, and worst of all, I committed to doing some things that I didn’t want to do, on a timeline that didn’t suit my schedule and for a fee that didn’t honor the value I brought to the situation or had committed to making. What was going on?
Does this sound familiar? It happens to all of us in one form or another when we aren’t living according to our values and vision. This is especially true when we are negotiating around money and time. We are so committed to giving our clients great service and caring for our families that we forget two things. First, if we live from our values, we can create the boundaries for what is really important. Second, we have a good handle what matters, we don’t get upset about the small stuff and we don’t tolerate things that don’t meet our goals.
The flip side of the toleration coin is control. The flip side of the boundaries coin is acceptance. When we don’t feel in control, we begin to “tolerate” things we don’t agree with, like clients that don’t treat us well and getting mad at traffic because we didn’t leave on time. The glass feels half empty instead of half full. And, we can work this downward spiral all the way to the floor – becoming doormats.
When we know our boundaries and live to honor them, we have the space to choose when we open the door, or close it and go see what’s at the window. Creating and understanding boundaries allows us to see and accept alternatives more easily.
So, pick up the doormat and shake out the dirt. The following tips will help you reduce what you’re tolerating, frame the doorways that give you fulfillment and open the door to career life balance.
Know what’s important. Think about and write down your values. These are the foundations for creating your boundaries, and as important, they allow you to prioritize what is truly important.
Notice what is happening. This is one of the easiest ways to avoid getting into toleration mode. Try this test – spend the next 24 hours separating yourself from what is happening. Take your daily commute, which involved circumstances that are wholly separate from you, like traffic volume and the actions of other drivers. These are circumstances – not you! You are a complete being unto yourself. You get to decide how you want to handle the drive. You choose whether to take a deep breath and not get stressed out, whether to gun it when someone moves into your lane, or ease up on the gas and let them in. Be crazy – smile at everyone you pass on the way to work one day. Play with noticing how you are choosing to be and how it works for you.
Set your boundaries in accordance with your values. As you become aware of circumstance, you can notice where your values are being honored, or not. On a personal level, regular eating is required. Yet, many of us choose not to eat lunch because we’re too busy. We choose to work over feeding our engines. No wonder we feel like we are tolerating situations. We’re literally running on empty! So, a boundary can be as simple as “I get to eat something at least once every 6 hours. Boundaries allow us to focus on what is important. Another example may be that you provide the most value by working for clients in a certain way and this requires getting paid a certain rate. Set your boundary for your rates and stick to them. See what happens. You may need to bend occasionally, but creating the boundary means that you are consciously choosing, not getting walked on.
Accept circumstance and tenaciously go after what’s important. When you separate yourself from circumstance, you get to choose what happens for you, not to you. You can’t change busy work days and you can figure out how to eat anyway. This isn’t rocket science – order in, bring a power bar and an apple, schedule email responses just twice a day and simply take lunch. This is where tenacity comes in and the rubber meets the road. If you aren’t willing to make some changes to reduce your tolerations, then you aren’t as aggravated as you think you are. Stop whining and get on with your life. However, if you are, then recognize that there may be some sacrifices, like going to bed 30 minutes earlier so you can get up and make lunch in the morning.
Don’t sweat the small stuff. We live in the richest country on this planet. Most of us have safe homes and enough to eat, which gives us time to worry about the little things. Make a list of what you complain about and then compare it to what you hold dear. Are you getting sidetracked by the details instead of going for the big wins? What boundaries would help you focus on the big picture? One example, “I won’t join the daily whine-fest about traffic when I get into the office. I’ll say good morning and get to work so that I can eat lunch today.”
Remember that you always have a choice about how you react or not to circumstance. Know what it’s important, write down your boundaries and get creative about reducing what you tolerate.