…if you don’t care enough to set them — and stick to them.
This may seem like common sense, but even if it is, I’m pretty sure it’s not common practice.
The reason I know this is because even though I write and speak about (and try my best to pay attention to) these things, I backed myself into a corner this week on this very issue.
Due to a small email miscommunication with a client, I did something I would never normally do — I offered to do a call at 7:30am. Now, besides being empirically too damn early to be talking business on the phone, this directly conflicts with one of the primary times of day when I get to hang out with my daughter.
Not cool, Josh.
After I offered that time via email, I went home and started to feel resentful. I thought, “Man, this guy is really screwing up my life…!”
But of course, the guy screwing up my life wasn’t the client… it was the guy in my shoes, pacing around the house and bitching about the “other guy.”
(If you’re curious, I did finally notice my ridiculous behavior and found a different time to talk to the client.)
Here’s the hard part — I think we often want “big” solutions to these kinds of problems. But this isn’t a big, sweeping problem; it’s a tiny, treacherous one. And fixing these kinds of problems is actually much harder, because it requires us to examine the details of our mental models, look deeply into our natural responses to things, and notice the nuances of what zaps our energy. Even worse, we have to do those things over and over and over and over, because we are constantly in the deep rut of our habits and patterns.
Then, the most difficult part might be the somewhat simple task of just setting a boundary and sticking to it.
Even with a reasonable amount of practice, I have to constantly fight against putting myself back in the “victim” place — blaming other people for the choices I have made or the boundaries I haven’t set (or held to).
And at the end of the day, this is the crappiest thing about these challenges… most times, there’s nobody to blame but me.
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