In our constantly changing, shifting world: Your personal boundaries are more important than ever before.
And here’s a (maybe) unpopular opinion: you are the same person at home and work. If you struggle to say no to your family or your friends or your spouse, you’ll also struggle to say no to your Board president, your VP, or your colleagues.
And your work needs you to have better boundaries.
I come from a family of artists.
My grandmother was a poet. My (other) grandfather was a vaudeville performer and the he wrote scripts and produced in Hollywood.
Mom and Dad met working at Arena Stage in the 1970s — at the height of American Regional Theatre. He was a producer and designer, and she was a stage manager.
He gave Raul Julia his first professional acting job, and she toured to Broadway with Raisin — the musical version of Raisin in the Sun — among other things, before they found their way to New Orleans. (It’s a long story for another day.)
My mother’s sisters are both artists — one was a dancer and actress on Broadway, and the other was a visual artist.
We’re creative people. I come by it honestly. We sing in four part harmony when we have family reunions. It’s like that.
Many of us have a kinda weird relationship with money. Me too.
I’ve ranged from penny pincher — clipping coupons, checking my budget multiple times a day — to completely reckless — not looking at my balances for months on end. Hoping if I ignore it, maybe it would just go away. (Newsflash: it did. But not the way I’d hoped.)
Sometimes my behavior was related to how much money I was making, and sometimes it wasn’t.
In 2018, I promised myself I would take the bull by the horns and do whatever it took to heal this relationship. My theme for 2018 would be “Easy Money.”
Because until now, Money had been anything but easy.
Boundaries are everywhere lately.
From yoga class dharma talks to dating articles. “Just set a boundary,” seems to be the pat answer everyone gives to challenges from overbearing mother-in-laws to trauma recovery. And let’s be honest: that’s a wide range.
The new hip accessory for self-aware people seems to be “Boundary setting.”
But I’ve also noticed folks bemoaning “I am so bad at setting boundaries.” or “He totally did not respect my boundary.” (We’ll always find a way to criticize ourselves, won’t we?)
I think many people don’t actually understand what boundaries are, based on these conversations. And I hear some common misunderstandings over and over.
Do any of these sound familiar?
“I’ll never make enough money.”
“I don’t practice enough.”
“I’m not pretty enough.”
“I’ll never be thin enough.”
“I’m too much for him to handle.”
“What if they find out I don’t know enough?”
Or do you have your own special flavor of scarcity?
These are all scarcity. Different perspectives, different targets, but all scarcity.
The word ‘scarcity’ gets thrown around like a hot potato in circles from personal development to manifestation, from certified financial planners to non-profit execs, from psychological marketers to yoga teachers.
As the year comes to a close, I can’t help but review. It’s natural to be reflecting on what 2017 was like — and to begin planning and dreaming and hoping for 2018.
But our tendency is to focus on everything that’s gone wrong, every tiny mistake we’ve made, or all the things that didn’t meet our expectations.
So instead, at the end of every project, or every year, or every class, I ask myself three questions:
1. What went well?
2. What could have gone better?
3. What will I do differently next time?
These three questions release that constant need to find the worst case.
Instead, I now have a practice of looking for the things that went well, so that I can expand on those things.
I’m free from the desperate search for problems to solve.
What you focus on grows — Why not look for what crushed instead of what bombed?
I will never forget the Tuesday I walked into my coach’s office at 7am, sat heavy on that cream sofa, and said “I just can’t do this anymore. I have to quit. I don’t know what I’m going to do instead, but I have to quit this job.”
And I did.
I did not pass go. I did not collect $200. I went directly to my boss’s office, closed the door, and resigned.
How often do we pray for change?
“Dear God, I’ll do anything, just get me out of here.”
“What am I supposed to do now?”
“Why does my hair always do this same weird thing?”
“I just can’t do this anymore.”
We think, “any change at all!” How great if our new job doubles our take-home, a boyfriend who understands how to take care of us (it’s so simple, after all!), for our mother to stop asking when she’ll be a grandmother (or for her to actually be a grandmother!)