A lifelong water-baby, I've been scuba diving since I was a pre-teen. Originally from California, I've been privileged to have lived (and dived!) all over the world. Four years ago, I met Don - and together, we're designing a future that moves away from the 9-to-5, white-picket-fence we thought we wanted, and builds in freedom, adventure, and flexibility. At OurKeysEscape.com, we're chronicling our journey, covering topics ranging from finances, side-hustles and debt payoff to fishing and boat repair. Join us as we embark on a journey to the lives of our dreams.
What percentage of your weekly activities are obligatory as opposed to desired? I think I need a giant blinking light over my bathroom mirror that reads “Do you really WANT to do this?” in bright pink lettering. Maybe then I’d remember not to overload our calendars so much that I end up wanting to quit absolutely every activity we’re involved in.
Church and obligatory after-church-brunch? Yep, not going. Motorcycle group? Oh dear God…quit! Volunteer group? Yup, that too…last week, it got so bad that I quit happy hour with the girls. Heck, I even quit the dogs! Okay, not really, but I definitely yelled at them to leave me alone…for the oh-so-serious crime of once again following me into the bathroom.
I’d had it, both physically and emotionally, with all of the obligations. I’d gotten to the point that even the things I initially wanted to do seemed like obligations, and I simply stopped doing all of it (side note – I did still go to work, because well, if I quit that…they stop paying me).
And I’m blogging about simplifying your life? I’m feeling spectacularly unqualified to discuss that particular challenge. We’re supposed to strike a balance, I know, between fulfilling our personal dreams and the myriad of social and community obligations. But the last few months, I haven’t been balancing well, obviously.
So this weekend, we did absolutely nothing. I skipped the charity event on Saturday night; I was relieved when my motorcycle ride for Sunday was cancelled due to rain. We didn’t even go to church; we just stayed home. And you know what? We got along better than we have in months. We actually enjoyed each other’s company!
Building Healthy Boundaries: Protecting Your Valuable Time
Virtually none of my friends would say I’m a people-pleaser. I’m fairly blunt, and when there’s a problem, I’d rather lay it out on the table and deal with it than just “smile-and-nod.”
And yet, somehow I found myself in the middle of obligatory-events-hell and a calendar full of supposed-tos. They’re insidious, aren’t they, those supposed-tos?
So, I’m creating a list of questions to ask myself when it comes to balance and boundaries. I’m printing it out and putting it next to my bathroom sink so I remember to work on this area for a while. Maybe I’ll even print it out and paste it to the inside of my daily planner, so I can’t help but pay attention.
Want to skip the rest and just download the list now?
First, Clear Out the Unnecessary
It should go without saying that in order to have more of what we really want, we have to have less of what we don’t want. But somehow it slips through the cracks, and it’s only later that we realize how much of our daily and weekly activities aren’t feeding our long-term needs and desires.
So, as you go about your planning, ask yourself:
Who is driving this task or participation in this event?
If it’s not you, are you in agreement that this is a priority for you today?
Are you comfortable with the level of work this will require?
How much value is this activity, task or event adding to my day?
Is the number of hours dedicated to this worth the value I receive from it?
What portion of my time will this use up, and is it worth that investment?
Are any deadlines associated with this activity internal or external?
If internal, are the deadlines self-imposed for a good reason?
What are the consequences if I do not do this activity?
Am I the best person to take this on?
Is there anyone else who could do this activity or event?
Would it be better to delegate or re-assign to someone else?
Then, Plan for Passion and Joy
I think the biggest hurdle is usually making room for the fun stuff. But right now, even if your schedule legitimately leaves very little time for joy and passion, just be conscious of what’s going on. Be conscious of making time, even just a little, for something you actually want to do.
Is there room in my day for something I’m passionate about?
What activity or event have I planned that will energize me and reignite my joy?
What proportion of the activities on my schedule are invigorating instead of wearying?
What am I doing that is purely for me this week?
What activity or event involves caring for myself?
What activity or event on my plan feeds my soul?
If there are unscheduled, want-to-do activities, have I allocated time for them on my
Download a quick cheat-sheet for conscious planning and incorporating more “you” in your day:
Which is your biggest struggle – clearing out the noise, or remembering to incorporate the joy? Why is it so hard to do continually?