“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” Dr. Seuss
“Self-respect is the fruit of discipline; the sense of dignity grows with the ability to say no to oneself.” Abraham Joshua Heschel
“I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but I still can do something. I will not refuse to do the something I can do.” Helen Keller
What a rich smorgasbord of wisdom! Each insight relates to boundaries. Boundaries are one of the core elements of Heart-Based Time Management™ – and one of my very favorite time management subjects!
Let’s start exploring with that first quotation from Dr. Seuss, about finding time to be yourself. What does that have to do with boundaries, you might ask?
Well, what I would say is that the more comfortable you are with your boundaries, the more at ease and confident you’re going to be with sharing yourself, your ideas, and your feelings with other people. That’s because when you have good, strong boundaries, you know that you are okay, no matter what.
Boundaries tell you where you end and the other person begins. So, when your boundaries are strong and clear, you know, right in your bones, that another person’s feeling or opinion about you is theirs and really says nothing about you. Secure in yourself, you can share authentically and allow others the space to share in the same way.
It’s a misconception to think of boundaries as barriers. In reality, knowing yourself and your boundaries frees you to relate much more openly … it’s the heart-based way!
Let’s take a closer look at that second of the three:
When it comes to being able to really, fundamentally respect yourself and your goals, knowing when to say no to yourself is one of the best skills you can cultivate. And this is a boundary skill.
So often we think of boundaries as having to do with other people. Those are external boundaries, and your skillfulness at setting and maintaining them will help you find the time you need relative to others.
You also need strong internal boundaries to support you in your life’s journey. Internal boundaries are relative to YOU and involve things like how much TV you watch or how much time you spend on the internet. These are time choices that involve you alone.
While we tend to think of “Yes” as an affirmative response, when it comes to your goals and time priorities, I encourage you to reframe each “No” as an affirmation. That’s because attaining your goals and being true to yourself most likely involves the discipline of saying No to many, many distractions along the way.
Remember the proverb: “If you chase two rabbits, you will lose them both.” So, respect yourself and the goals that you value with each and every affirmative “No.”
To do what you can isn’t about skill or ability so much as it is about choice and will. The third quotation is from someone who might be called an authority on doing what one can … Helen Keller.
There are 3 keys here.
- One is to be able to see, in any given moment, what is possible. Sometimes this means “chunking” your tasks into smaller pieces so that they are doable in smaller increments of time. Other times it may mean simply starting in on an item on your To Do List. I know from experience that often a job that looks overwhelming from the outside, becomes quite manageable as soon as you begin. So don’t be afraid to begin!
- The second key really reinforces the first. It has to do with boundaries and with fully assimilating and accepting that you are one. You cannot be all things to all people. You are you, and that is plenty. The more you can take this in the better you will be able to keep your eye on what is possible, rather than getting caught up in all of the possibilities!
- The third key is to be willing to do what you can. That’s what Helen Keller is speaking about in her final sentence, above.