Do you ever have the feeling that someone is ‘walking all over’ you? Do you find yourself frustrated or even a bit cynical with others and hear yourself saying ‘they made me/want me to/expect me to…’?
I hear that quite often as new clients work with me in coaching. What they soon discover is they have been remiss to set boundaries. Once we uncover what might be getting in the way and exactly what a boundary might look like, the activity revolves around becoming clear about their ‘line in the sand’.
Let’s talk a moment about what is a boundary. According to Merriam-Webster, a boundary is: something that indicates or fixes a limit or extent; a real or imaginary point beyond which a person or thing cannot go.
When we look at boundaries as a fix to ensure or support self-care rather than selfish-behavior, we can be guilt-free when we say ‘no’; we can ask for what we want and need ; we can say ‘yes’ because it is what we want to say rather than feeling it is the obligatory response. Boundaries support our desire to ‘be’ who we are, really, and not who other’s expect/want/need us to be for them.
Several comments I often hear regarding this awareness is this: I can’t be that mean and say no all the time; doing that would be like slamming the door on this relationship; if I don’t give in to him/her, they won’t like me anymore. And so it goes – the excuses, justification and rationalization as to why setting boundaries won’t work! And here is a question that might be something to ponder upon: What might your life look like if you took responsibility for your own happiness and success? What would that be like for you?
Boundaries do not have to be impermeable walls! They can be, and possibly should be in some instances; however, they can also be like the orange construction fences that have some flow through and some give. They can be like picket fences that are sturdy and strong with areas of drifting through. Is it possible to have ‘both/and’? Of course, in many instances, it is! The focus here is that one does intentionally create that line in the sand and determine if the situation at hand is a brick wall or construction fence!
“Love yourself enough to set boundaries. Your time and energy are precious. You get to choose how you use it. You teach people how to treat you by deciding what you will and won’t accept.” ― Anna Taylor
Recently, I shared my thoughts about creating a vision for the future. I delight in planning and setting goals or targets, something on which to focus my attention. I don’t want to aimlessly wander – or squander – the years I have been given to occupy this great Earth. And yet, sometimes, it seems I am doing things without a true investment. Does that ever happen to you? They are those things I think I should do, or that others expect me to do. Where is the joy in that?
Shouldn’t the time and energy I invest be directly (or indirectly, at least) bring me joy? Wouldn’t that mean I was doing something I love? Is that being selfish or self-centered? I don’t believe it is and let me explain my thinking here. Sometimes, it may be a bit of a stretch to find joy, happiness, fulfillment, delight or pleasure in what one is doing. The activity or scenario may not be what I expected – or maybe it is what I expected and that was something less than desirable! I believe experiencing the joy or delight in what we are doing circles back to the Vision of who I intend to be.
Let me share this story with you:
A few years ago, I was a leader in a corporate company and had just completed a 3 day workshop with my management team at one of my remote locations. We had an incredible experience, getting to know each other on a more personal level, building trust and communication to strengthen the leadership team. We looked at how we could work better remotely and addressed the concerns of each leader’s individual team. We created great synergy and high engagement for leading our group to excel in a variety of ways. I was living my intention: Being an effective and engaging leader. Sounds great – right?
After the workshop, 5 of us were waiting at the airport for our flight home. My boss calls me on my cell phone and asks me to step away from the group. His message to me: Corporate has decided to close several locations. One of them is mine. The one we are departing from. I need to create a plan to return to this location with him in a few weeks and deliver the news. WOW!! What a kick in the pants!
Obviously, my mood quickly sank to a new low. We had just invested so much time and energy in building trust and relationship. It had been one of the best investments of time and money we had spent and I was looking forward to a new year of engagement and growth for my teams and leaders. And now, less than an hour since our celebration lunch, I am to be planning the message that the location will close and my team (and their leaders) would be out of a job or (hopefully) in a new position with the company. I was devastated! I was expected to do something so heartbreaking and really, there was no option or easy answer.
How does one even begin to approach this task? Check back on my intention: Being an effective and engaging leader. This is what I really love. Leading others; guiding them to find their way and be their best; knowing that sometimes, that means being direct and tough with compassion and empathy. Laying out the facts, as I know them; being a bit vulnerable, not taking things personally yet, being personable; listen with compassion; allow and encourage each individual to process information in his/her own way; honesty; integrity; truthful. Always breathing and knowing ‘all is well’.
My boss and I did return to the location and shared this news with the leaders. Then, we met with the teams and shared with them. Delivery of the message was the easy part. What I mean by that is we prepared a statement and read it. So, once the words were out, we were done with the delivery. It didn’t feel good and I’m sure my voice was shaking – not who I like to be; however, it is my intention in leadership to be truthful and I know that sometimes means being tough and direct.
And then – – the range of reactions came. Tears, anger, disbelief, fear, disappointment, denial, thoughtful and questioning. Small group meetings and one-on-ones. Some had to leave the building as they were so distraught. A few simply went back to work, feeling nothing was in their control except what they knew on the job.
And me? Here is where I was silently drawn by the strange pull of what I really love: leading others. I breathed in the intention of being leader and what that means for me. I found no joy or delight or happiness in the task I was called to do – announce the closure and disappoint my team. Yet, I found great fulfillment in being there to listen and console and plan and hope with each and everyone. In being leader I did not go astray. Having my clearly defined intention, I was able to shift from the thoughts of cynicism and defiance and what I should do, or that others expect me to do, or the task I was assigned. I became grounded and in control of living the life I envisioned – being the most effective and engaging leader I could be.
Others will have expectations of you. Tasks will arise that are unpleasant. All the ‘you should do/be/think…’ comments or thoughts will arise. How do you stay true to who you really are and how you plan to live your life?
Be clear. Connect with the pull that is silently drawing you to what you really love. Define your intentions of how you will ‘be’ in this world. Create your vision. Ground and center yourself. Then, breathe it in and take one small step to live the life you said you would live.
Here we are on the last day of 2017! While many people are preparing for a New Year’s Eve celebration, I am pondering what 2018 will bring. Oh, not in a worldly sense – but in one more personal and intimate. What I can control and how I want to be in the coming year.
Now is the time I reflect a bit on the current year and look at my successes as well as the areas in which I did not quite live up to what I expected for myself. Of course, in order to do that, I need to revisit my vision and goals set at the beginning of the year. Once I see the progress – or lack thereof – the process of planning 2018 becomes more clear and can be completed with greater ease!
Does that happen for you?
Let’s back up a moment. I have a few questions for you: Have you written you Life’s Vision? If not, how do you know where you are going? Or, are you just drifting along, allowing life to happen? What would it be like for you to set the course for your life – in writing – and create the life you’ll love to live? Do you know that starts with Vision?
The Merriam-Webster definition of Vision: the act or power of seeing: Sight … a thought, concept or object formed by the imagination … mode of seeing or conceiving … unusual discernment or foresight …
Your vision for your future is your imagination creating a picture of who and what you aspire to be! It is about seeing a better future for yourself. It is about seeing a life that is fulfilling, passionate, deeply satisfying and complete. It is all about YOU and you are in the driver’s seat! How great is that!
“Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” Carl Jung.
I can hear you now: How do I create this Vision Statement, Coach? What is it suppose to look like? How do I know if I did it right?
Breathe, dear one! How about we make this happen with ease and grace? Would that be okay?
There is no ‘right or wrong’ – it is what YOU want it to be. It can be as long or short as you like/need. Look inside and create the life you will look back on throughout the year and say: YES! Where you direct your focus is where you will go. It’s really just that simple!
Are you ready to get started? Here are a few questions you might like to consider:
1. How can I be more present?
2. Where can I be more accountable?
3. How can I take better care of myself and those I love?
4. In what ways can I contribute to others?
5. What actions can I take to ensure I have no regrets?
6. What footprints do I want to leave?
7. Who in my life am I willing to forgive?
8. Where am I in auto-pilot?
9. What is one thing I really want to do that I have not yet done?
10. What am I most grateful for?
This is, of course, not an all-inclusive list; nevertheless, it is a possible lift-off point for you! Just creating a space for allowing your imagination to take a fresh look at what is important to you and where you intentionally direct your focus will help you to create a life you’ll love.
Take a look – what do you see?
How will you show-up throughout 2018?
What will it be like on December 31, 2018, when the person reading this article today takes a look back?
“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined.” – – Thoreau
Here we are in the first week in December and much of the conversation revolves around gifts to buy and give. Just yesterday, I talked to my eldest son to get ideas for his younger brother. And the week prior, I sent a text to my granddaughter with an idea of what she could buy for her dad. I’ve bought the ‘no more than $10.00’ gift for a luncheon and I’ve started a list of ideas for my best friend. The stores and on-line continue to bombard us with super-saving-sales and the Big Toy book is already well worn with children thumbing through to point out at least one gift-getting idea per page! Yes, it is December and everyone is focused on what to give and hopes of what they will get.
I could never understand why it was so hard for my parents to tell me what they wanted for Christmas (or birthdays or Mother’s/Father’s Day). Well, that is until I added a few decades to my ‘how old are you’ answer! And now, as yet another birthday for me approaches, I think I finally get it. It really isn’t about the object or article I receive, it is about the person on the other end of the package.
Oh, the things I receive are wonderful and I appreciate the thought, time, effort and expense that goes into the giver selecting and presenting these things for me. I know that when I select something for someone else, I think about how it might surprise and please them. I get warm inside thinking about the other person’s reaction and hope it will warm their heart and make them smile.
And that is what it is about – – wearing the smile someone else gave me through their kindness and thoughtfulness. I think that is what my parents were trying to teach me. It really is the thought that counts!
I see this now, with my 96 year old Mother, who really has no want for anything. She is in relatively good health, has a wonderful apartment with very caring and loving health professionals to support her. She has lovely friends in the complex and they are all very concerned about each other. She has a nice wardrobe that we freshen with the seasons. So, what can I get her? What will warm her heart? What will bring her smile?
Do you know what it is? I do! It is the same for nearly everyone – it is the “You Matter” gift. For my Mother, it is the schedule phone call each week and the spur-of-the-moment, out-of-the-blue, just-because phone call. It is the card that says ‘just wanted to say hi!’ It is remembering and sharing special moments of times gone by. It is the thought – knowing someone is thinking of you, cares for you and wants you to wear their smile.
What ‘You Matter’ gift have you received? Which have you given? What is the next you’ll give? Don’t look now…but are you smiling? You wear it well!
We have arrived!
Halloween has passed and we have turned the calendar to November – Holiday Season is officially upon us! It is time to let go of summer fun and begin the transition of Fall to Winter.
What is it about the holidays that makes them – well, the ‘Holidays’!? What comes up for you as you begin to prepare for this new season?
Here is what comes up for me: spending money, buying gifts, baking, cooking, wrapping, travel, work, cleaning, entertaining, decorating, writing cards, mailing packages, shoveling snow…seems to go on and on! And yet – I love the holidays! What I would like, though, is if it could be more simple, more stress-free. Is that even possible?
What would it be like to create a stress-free holiday season? Can you even imagine? When I asked someone that a few days ago, she said: “The holidays are kind of like having a baby – it’s incredibly painful for a while, then once the delivery [holiday] is over, you forget how awful it was going through it and just remember the good stuff!” Wow! I’d never thought about it that way! I would like this year to be more ‘good stuff’ and much less ‘awful’!
Here is a formula, if you will, to create a Season of Simplicity. There are four steps: Explore, Dream, Discover, Create.
Explore what has meaning and relevance for you. What experiences of holidays past do you recall with joy – that warm your heart? Is it the people who celebrated with you; the activities of walking in the snow or playing cards around the fireplace or maybe a group of friends together in the kitchen baking cookies? Perhaps it is vacation time away from work, recharging your mind, body and spirit. Of all the memories you have from wonderful holiday experiences, can you see the common theme? Just guessing here – but I doubt it was how spic-n-span clean your house was, or the exhaustion you felt after a day a non-stop shopping and spending money you really didn’t have on gifts no one can really recall now!
What if you focus this holiday one or two of those things that really bring you joy and make those the absolute best – letting go of some of the other stuff that has little meaning for you?
Dream about what it will be like, on January 2, to reflect on this holiday as one of the Best Holidays ever! What does that look like? Can you put in writing the vision of your dream? Here is how it might go: When I look back to the holiday season of 2017, I see that I enjoyed the preparation and time with my family and friends. We laughed as we reminisced times gone by. We ate well and everyone contributed to our festivities. No one overspent money or energy! I had time to relax and enjoy each passing day – reflecting on what is really important as I leave my footprint on the season. What would that reflection be like for you?
Discover what is getting in your way of being able to make this dream/vision a reality. Here are a few things you might look at. Do you: shop without a budget; frequently pick up things at the checkout that are not on your list; take on too many responsibilities without enough help from others, fail to ask for – or accept help…Once you become aware of what may be getting in your way – a very slight shift in how you are being will open the space for you to begin to delight in the season!
Create a space of gratitude. When you experience gratitude, your ego moves out of the way. You can only have one or the other – gratitude or ego – they cannot coexist. Gratitude is grace and grateful is a sense of being. As you move into and through this holiday season, become appreciative of what you are doing and how you are creating this simple season. It takes only a moment to express thankfulness – and it is a moment free of stress that both the giver and receiver experience!
And, as always – remember to breathe!
Fall to Winter – – another beautiful season of life.