I’m a rule follower…sometimes to a fault.
It’s a benefit because I don’t get tickets for traffic violations, I can be trusted to do what I say I’m going to do, and I generally feel very safe.
But it’s also one of my biggest weaknesses because I subconsciously make up rules in my mind, follow them perfectly, and then end up wondering why I’m so stressed.
I recognize that not everyone shares my same personality traits, so as I open up about these 7 “rules” I need to change, you may be wondering what on earth is wrong with me. 🙂 However, my hope is that as I share my story and the growth I’m working on, you’ll have a chance to think about your own situation–and perhaps make some helpful tweaks.
The past couple of months have been pretty heavy for me. (I batched the last few podcasts before the craziness, so even though I’ve been posting each week, it’s actually been awhile since I posted here.)
Everything is “fine,” and a lot of the activity going on around here was incredibly positive, but the way I responded to it was not.
In a nutshell, I unintentionally put myself into a perfect storm of conferences, travel, family responsibilities, timely projects, special events, meetings, and new initiatives–without leaving space for the unexpected/less shiny things–and I ended up running on fumes and feeling completely depleted.
I love LearnDoBecome, and I love being here with such an amazing group of people, but in my efforts to help others get out of the overwhelm, it doesn’t make sense for me to put myself into the overwhelm.
Part of me wonders if I should just put my work on hold for a few years until I “figure everything out,” but my heart tells me that it’s a better choice to share my pains, acknowledge where things could have been different, and emphasize the fact that I’m a fellow traveler (who cares deeply, but struggles mightily).
So, after a lot of thinking, I realized that there have been seven subconscious rules I’ve been following these past few months that contributed to the majority of my stress. It feels a little embarrassing to actually write them down and share them with the world, but if my mistakes can help you navigate a better path, I’ll bite the bullet. 🙂
Old Rule #1: If someone else wants something to happen now, I need to make sure I do it.
I love to support others, but I’m too quick to respond when I receive a request. For example, one of my children asked me to help with three big projects over the course of a week and a half–right before I needed to help with a big local conference and then travel to another conference on the other side of the country. I jumped right in and made sure everything happened right on time, but in hindsight, we could have adjusted the schedule, and I could have done way less.
New Rule #1: I am wise as I make my commitments (which ones I select, how many, and how often).
Old Rule #2: I must take advantage of every good opportunity.
We all know that life is full of a LOT of good things, and of course we WANT those good things in our lives. But when we do ALL the good things, it doesn’t typically work out to our benefit. Over the past couple of months, I had the chance to help out with some beautiful community service events, celebrate Fall Break with Eric and Spencer, go on a girls’ trip with my sisters and nieces, hear a huge variety of special speakers, dive into some new business opportunities, attend special events, and spend time with some wonderful people. Looking at each of those individually, I feel like I made great choices, but looking at all of them combined, I realize that I said yes to WAY too much.
New Rule #2: I do good things when I have the energy to do so.
Old Rule #3: No matter what happens, I must continue to pursue my pre-defined goals.
How many times have you picked up a book about goal-setting that said, “Hey! Don’t really worry about your goals. Maybe you’ll get them done, and maybe you won’t. It’s not that big of a deal.” Perhaps that book IS out there, but what I typically get–from books, seminars, conferences, etc.–is that we have to FIGHT for our goals. We need to be consistent. Mind over mattress. Do it when it’s hard. Don’t break a streak. Make it happen no matter what. I don’t want to be misunderstood here–because I do love setting goals, and often the “Streaks” app has been super helpful for me, and I like the thrill of achieving something that required sustained effort. My problem, however, is that I have sometimes made “goal-achievement” the king–at the cost of my personal health and well-being. (As a little side note, I’m reading a book called, “When the Body Says No” that is life-changing, and I also read a helpful article about how quitting can be a good thing. I’ll link both below!)
New Rule #3: Goals can be adjusted to match my bandwidth.
Old Rule #4: I can always handle “one more thing.”
I think I’m pretty good at managing projects, tasks, and calendared events so they don’t feel overwhelming to me, but the unexpected things that come up are usually on a personal level. Over the past couple of months, several of our family members and friends have gone through some incredibly tough experiences. We’ve spent hours on the phone, hours in conversation, and hours doing our best to lend a hand. None of that was “planned,” but, instead of assuming I could always handle one more thing, I wish I had created more space in my life for the unplanned needs of the people I love.
New Rule #4: My life is happiest when there is plenty of margin (for replenishment and for people), and even if I technically could handle that one more thing, each choice needs to be made carefully.
Old Rule #5: Replenishment can wait until life calms down.
Because I’d created a life that was constantly “too busy,” I left SO many things undone. By the time things DID slow down, we had bald tires, we desperately needed an oil change, our fridge was empty, our dog’s fur was matted, the closet was full of clutter, my phone storage was just about maxed out, the smoke detectors were crying out for new batteries, and I felt like everywhere I turned, there was one more piece of evidence that I had been going way too fast.
New Rule #5: “Sharpening the saw” is a regular part of every day. If I “don’t have time” to sharpen the saw, I am moving too fast.
Old Rule #6: Since “everyone else” is fine moving at a frantic pace, I should be, too.
I’ve learned that, especially in my business circles, my personality type isn’t very common. Most of the people who attend conferences and events with me THRIVE on the go-go-go pace of entrepreneurship. For many years, I’ve seen myself as one of the “weak.” I don’t want to post to social media 25 times a day. I don’t want to be in 3 coaching groups. I don’t want to attend events all over the place or talk from morning to night for 7 days in a row. But those are only keys to “success” if I share their definition of success. In every circle, there’s a spectrum of choices being made, and while what you see may be totally different than what I see, I’m guessing you can relate to the pressure we could each put on ourselves to constantly be on the go.
New Rule #6: I am a unique individual, I have a unique purpose, and I honor my unique needs.
Old Rule #7: If I stop doing so much–without being sick or incapacitated–I will let people down or miss important opportunities.
I think I’m most embarrassed about this one. I had quite a bit of sickness in 2020 and 2021, and those weeks/sometimes months in bed gave me a natural (though not necessarily enjoyable) break. I’ve learned to solve those health issues, and I haven’t been sick this year, but I also didn’t build in enough down time. A member of our community recently asked me why I am so hard on myself, and at first, the question stung because I don’t WANT to be hard on myself…but then I had to laugh because I was being hard on myself for being hard on myself. 🙂 So I actually spent quite a bit of time pondering that question (I probably need a separate post to spell it out!). I won’t go deep into it right now, but in essence, the way I interpreted my experience growing up and the way I’ve created my current identity have set me up to have super high expectations of myself, a very strong work ethic, and an incredibly difficult time feeling as though I’ve done enough. I’m working on making some healthy, much-needed adjustments.
New Rule #7: Establishing healthy boundaries is my responsibility. I want to serve and be a support to others long-term, so it is essential that I live each day in a sustainable way.
Okay, that’s it for today! It’s taking quite a bit of willpower not to go back and delete all that. 🙂
Sometimes I wish I didn’t struggle, and I wish I didn’t have so many weaknesses. I wish I weren’t so sensitive, I wish I could trust God more and not put so much on my own shoulders. I wish I didn’t have to learn the same lessons over and over and over again.
But really, that’s the whole point here at LearnDoBecome.
We’re here to join together–in the messiness (and beauty) of life–to identify where we need more knowledge, to create plans that are tailored to our needs and put them into action, and then to experience that thrill of growth as we become who we’re meant to be.
I love you for being here with me and for being the kind of person who lets me share my heart. I know we’re not all hanging out in the same physical space, but goodness, I feel like you’re my best friends.
Book I’m reading: When the Body Says No (Amazon Affiliate)