A little while back I talked about creating boundaries. We went through what it meant to set a boundary and I suggested that you create your ideal week (or maybe couple of weeks) so that you could take inventory and make a plan on what your boundaries would look like. If you missed that one, go back and read Set the Boundary because today we are building on it. It is one thing to set your intentions, make a plan, and commit to following through and it’s another thing entirely to actually follow through on it. So this week I want you to take your ideal week calendar (and if you haven’t done it yet for the love just take the 15 minutes and do it) and review how closely you came to following it. What did you do? What did you not do? Would the ideal change? Were you not even close because “reality” took over?
I know the first week after I had understood my ideal week I was annoyed that other people messed it up. My kids didn’t go to bed well so that cut into time to get some cleaning done. People at work scheduled meetings over lunch on days that I had blocked to workout. I got emails and messages at all hours of the day that needed to be responded to. My friends weren’t available on the same nights I had planned to set up time with them. The whole thing was frustrating enough to just say, yeah this doesn’t work, people don’t respect my boundaries and real life doesn’t work the way I want ‘ideally’.
That my friends is what is called a copout. That is childish and lazy. Also, that is exactly what I did at first. Things didn’t work the way I wanted them to so I quit. Which was just silliness really, so when I realized that I took another approach, inspired (as usual in my own personal development) by my kids. I would need to model it.
Kids watch everything we do and regardless of what our words are, what we do is what they learn. If I shout at them to “STOP YELLING” it’s not exactly effective. If I take a deep breath before I lose my mind they eventually learn to do the same (it doesn’t take as long as you think). So in this instance I determined that blocking the time on my calendar was just telling people I was busy. Accepting the meeting and responding to the email were modeling that I don’t respect my time so it is OK that no one else does either. Think about that. If you say that you’re off line, but you’re constantly replying and joining or changing plans to make it work it is obvious that you don’t care. Most people will not take the time to account for your needs if you don’t. I am not saying I could never be flexible but setting the standard is critical. Declining the meeting or suggesting a new time is OK in most situations. Not responding to the email until you’re actually working is also OK in most situations. On the areas that I truly could not control I needed to make some decisions around what I could. For example, if my kids don’t go to bed well perhaps they need to start winding down sooner. If my friends aren’t available maybe I need to start planning things earlier to swap out different nights in the week or month.
My point is this, we do a lot of blaming people for not respecting our boundaries, crossing our boundaries, and failing to respect our priorities. Most often we need to start with the person in the mirror and make sure that we’re protecting them and respecting them first. Then consider if other people are seeing you do it. Are you modeling the behavior? Finally, in the situations that feel like you have no control, figure out what you do have control over. How can you better advocate for yourself? How can you better prepare and be flexible without falling apart?