Boundaries (and how to set them)

We run into situations where we worked a few extra hours into the night and we wake up the next day unable to function. The work project and the people relying on you get stuck. Especially when you can’t afford it.

The reason is that we want to stretch a bit more, make the project go faster and please more. We do that by spending our extra resources on the project’s (or person’s) behalf. What’s happening is that we are looking for a magical way to get more time and energy in the day.

Of course, the person we’re helping doesn’t need five more minutes for a small request. They have five more requests after. But it feels like helping them with a request (that is not agreed upon) is a way of showing them that you care.

The alternative is a simple as it is difficult: Say no.

Say it without rushing and without stress. “I’m sorry, that’s not going to work for me.” You can explain, “This is not so healthy for me because…” and suggest an alternative, “I think what would be in our best interests that we do it this other way”.

An overloaded truck isn’t a more efficient way to move gravel (or anything else). And when you overload your day by treating your engine as indestructible based on how much you care, you’ll become inefficient and thus disrespectful.

Lots of other things in our life aren’t squishy. Gravity, for example, or the load capacity of the lift. They are what they are.

So is boundaries if you let it.

The hard part about stating your boundaries is standing up and moving on. But the cost of being squishy is that you’re not only disrespecting the next person or project. You’re stressed all the time.

Stand up and walk out.

People will learn, and they’ll end up respecting you for it because it’s not personal. Just as it’s not personal when the train leaves on time. The alternative, which is squishiness, is personal. Because if you like someone, you’re willing to be even more late than usual.

Boundaries are needed for us to do our best work.

Use review to pivot

It might be a useful exercise to look back at where you’ve been and ask where you’re going.

I’ve been learning the English grammar for years now, but I don’t think it has improved. Over the years, I’ve been reading rule books, watching tutorial and practice by writing articles every week. Yet, I am still confused by the correction provided by Grammarly.

Perhaps it’s not enough to know the right answer or to have an editor. It’s time to learn the reason behind the rules.

What have you been doing in your life that is not getting the result you want? Perhaps it’s time to try something different.

Re-defining Retirement

If you talk to someone who is good at surfing or powder skiing, they’ll tell you that’s the moment that they seek. And that once they get good enough at a certain kind of activity, they have to go find another one because it’s boring to do one of those sports if it’s the same. And we acknowledge that makes perfect sense.

If we talk to a jazz musician who does improv, we say, “well, why don’t you just play, you know, Autumn Leaves again?” And they say, “cause I know how to play that”. That’s obvious. That the tension of this might work and this might not work at the same time.

When we are dancing with something, we don’t say, “you must go away for us to be happy”. We say, “I am dancing, therefore I am happy”.

What if the goal isn’t a tensionless state? It is to learn how to dance with tension and do work that matter for people who care.

How to lose an argument

  • Make the person feel twice the pain that they made you feel.
  • Become a person of vengeance.
  • Don’t come to a solution.
  • Never to talk to the person again.

Think about it: Once it becomes a heated discussion, no one is going to listen. We are crouching in defence, ready to pounce on any flaws in the argument.

What if instead, of saying… you are irresponsible, we say the action you are taking is telling us a story that you are irresponsible? Or we say the action you are making is causing us to feel that you are lazy?

What difference would it make to an argument, or should I say, conversation?

Effective Apology

Apology, at its core, is not about taking responsibility. It’s not about figuring out who’s right. It’s not for finding solutions (although that can be helpful). The apology is about repairing connections. 

The other option is simple — walk away and cut off all future interactions.

No one is immune to error (not even a perfectionist). When humans interact and something goes wrong, the apology builds a bridge that enables us to move forward. 

It’s not easy to find the strength and allow yourself to feel vulnerable, but no one said that it was easy. We do it because it’s worth it.

Next time when you give an apology, ask “how can I repair the connection?”

[Why Won’t You Apologize? is a guidebook for anyone seeking to offer a heartfelt apology. Please read this before you apologize.]

1 2 3 14