Setting goals and taking action on them can lay bare some home truths you might not have thought of at the start of your personal development journey. Here are 3 that I will cover in this article:
1- How do I judge myself and others?
2- What standards do I hold myself to — and also expect of others?
3- What boundaries are helping or hindering me?
Some examples of judgments that can invalidate others and perhaps even yourself are:
a- Rich people tend to be selfish.
This judgment is not rational and may have come from adults in childhood or from sensationalist ‘entertainment’ in the mass-media.
b- Managers think only of the bottom line.
Well, experience has taught me that most managers do indeed think of the bottom line some of the time. But few of them think of it all of the time!
What’s been your experience?
c- Smokers are selfish.
Another generalization! Smokers, like non-smokers, can be selfish about various things.
When smokers light up right next to my family in restaurants or coffee shops (demarcation area is narrow in many Japanese restaurants) I tend to feel they are selfish and inconsiderate.
I also dislike it when so many cigarette butts are thrown on the streets – but again, it is only some smokers who do this, and not all.
By compassionately but firmly examining different areas of our life, it’s possible to identify standards by which you already hold yourself responsible to.
Here are 9 of my own. Are they similar to yours?
a- Career: I spend at least 80% of my working time doing things I enjoy.
b- Career:I take all of my vacation days each year because I know I have earned it and it is also important in my roles as a husband and father.
c- Family & Friends: I let time go lightly when I am with them.
d- Wealth: I enjoy saving more than I spend each month.
e- Health: I run every other day.
f- Personal: I invest 5% of my net monthly income on my personal development.
g- Community: I am on good terms with my neighbors.
h- Life: I expect the best from my life and quite often get it.
j- Learning: I enjoy and am committed to lifelong learning.
Becoming more aware of your personal boundaries can help focus attention on what is helping or hindering you – and sometimes on what you are no longer prepared to put up with any longer.
For example, when I was still gainfully employed in corporate cubicle land, I would occasionally have various disorganized people suddenly ask me to drop what I was working on at that moment and start getting involved in some new project, problem or issue they were having.
In the case of an urgent customer-facing or revenue-impacting issue, then yes, it made sense to pitch in and help.
However, sometimes these people would apply use of the same “distress signal” to have me start working on their undocumented project or proposal.
My personal boundary for this sort of “time-vampire” task became that of saying “No” to undocumented requests for assistance with projects.
Basically, I applied the rule that “If they can’t measure it then it doesn’t exist” as far as my involvement goes.
I would tell them to put what they wanted done in a simple email or project proposal and I would then read and respond.
Interesting how a lot of those seemingly urgent projects never got any further than the requestor’s lips!
Your mileage may vary and of course it’s your call on whether my approach would make sense in your work environment.
I even used it with managers – in a diplomatic and polite way of course. Usually it is not wise or tactful to face these folks down publicly but it is businesslike and professional to follow up with a clarification request by email and/or a brief private meeting.