Don't get me wrong; after working on codependency, people pleasing, boundary setting, and keeping promises to myself for several years now, I've come a long way. And yet, the creation of the very thing that I wanted to give to you – The Well Nourished Goddess telesummit – has tested my boundaries on many levels. From scheduling calls with speakers that are 16 hours ahead of me, to technology issues, to learning to ask for help and letting go of my inner control freak, my boundaries have been tested on more than one occasion over the past few months as I've prepared for the summit to launch. Yet, for each of these little universal tests, I am grateful.
I like to tell my clients that healing occurs in layers, much like peeling away layers of an onion. We peel away one layer and we get all excited because we think we finally tackled the issue. Then a day, a week, several months, or even several years later, it reemerges again – that issue we thought we dealt with once and for all. But this is just a deepening of the lesson, a deepening of the journey. Although it may be painful, I still welcome it. You see, if life was always easy, if it always flowed smoothly, we would never grow, we would never heal, and we would never learn.
Over the weekend, I found myself pondering this question: How can I teach women to set better boundaries for themselves, to take exquisite care of themselves and put themselves first if I'm not doing it myself? The answer, of course, is: I can't. Gulp. Time to practice what I preach and take a dose of my own medicine.
I've been reading Danielle LaPorte's latest book White Hot Truth. In it she asks this question:
In other words, when you show up for everybody else but not yourself, do you feel full or do you feel depleted? If you feel full, awesome. Keep on doing what you're doing. But if you feel a little depleted, as I have lately, it's time to do things differently. (No, don't judge yourself about why you're not able to do as many things as you usually are able to do or why you're more tired than usual. Listen to your body and heed its cycles and rhythms.)
So what am I doing? I ended up engaging in an exercise on boundary setting that I would like to share with you. I hope it serves you.
If you too are struggling with boundaries around giving away too much of your time and energy and feeling a bit depleted, I have some suggestions for you.
- Figure out what it is that you actually want – I'm talking about on an hour by hour, day by day experience. The past few weeks have taught me exactly what I don't want. I don't want to respond to frantic emails, texts, and messages while I'm trying to do my morning yoga. I don't want to be up until bedtime checking Facebook just in case somebody's having a problem. That's a sure path to insomnia. Figuring out what I didn't want it was the easy part. It was figuring out what I wanted that was a little more challenging.
- Get out your calendar, literally – I printed out a blown up version of a week-long calendar. I then armed myself with a bunch of little Post-it notes and wrote down everything that I needed to get done that week on those notes. Some of the things were day-specific; others could be done any day just as long as they got done. This process made me be very discerning about how much time I had, how much time I thought everything would take to accomplish, and how much time I actually had to get things done v. the time that I had allotted for myself to do each of these tasks. (See today's video for more information.)
- Set your “working” or “available” hours – what times are you available for other people's priorities and what times are you blocking off for yourself? – Hint: get a little greedy here. Give yourself a little wiggle room and a little more breathing room than you think you're going to need. That way, when and if life inevitably happens, you're not taken too far off track.
- Attach your sticky notes to your calendar and see what happens – if you run out of room on your calendar, it's time to get even more discerning about your priorities, or more realistic about how much time things will actually take. You may have to make some tough choices and take some things off your plate for this week because you simply don't have room for them now that you're giving yourself a little more of your own time. Fight the urge to take away your own time that you've scheduled in. You will think about it, but please don't do it. You'll regret it. I promise. Breathe. This is just an experiment. If you don't like how it goes this week, there's always next week to try again.
- Do a daily and end-of-week reflection on what went well and what didn't, and from there you can decide what you want to do differently next week.
I'll keep you posted on how my experiment goes. I'd love to hear how yours goes. If you'd like to learn more about taking better care of you and setting healthier boundaries with people in your life and around your own time, I invite you to join me for The Well Nourished Goddess online summit where I've got 21 guest speakers talking about just those topics. I hope you'll join us.