I’ve never been great at setting boundaries. Yet early last year, I began to notice that in the absence of boundaries I was creating stress, worry and uneasiness in my daily life. I wanted to change this.
I reached out to my dear friend and soul sister Taryn Pieramati. Taryn is a personal energy management coach. I invited Taryn to my home one Saturday to help me work on my issue with boundaries. Over several cups of tea and homemade lemon and olive oil cake, Taryn sat with me and carefully and calmly took me through the process of setting personal boundaries. This was a new and strange experience for me. I had never really thought about boundaries before and certainly had never written them down. In fact, I don’t think I even knew what personal boundaries were. The process required me to connect to my feelings and refrain from staying stuck in my head, circling in old beliefs where logic and over-analysing reside.
The result of this process was interesting. I set five simple, non-negotiable standards for myself with the intention that they would assist me in greater productivity, growth and connection to myself, and, therefore, greater connection to those with whom I interact.
One of those standards was my mornings are sacred.
This standard came from a frustration that my days were being gobbled up by a deep desire to be smarter with how I spent my time in regards to productivity and output. I noticed how often I had given my best energy, in the morning, to other peoples’ needs and priorities. This resulted in me having very little fuel in my own tank at the end of the day to focus on the ‘important’ work for myself. The ‘important’ work is ‘the heart of effective personal management’ and is described by Steven Covey in his book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. It covers building relationships, critical thinking, writing blogs and books, long-range planning, exercising, preventive maintenance and preparation. These are all the things we know we need to do but seldom get around to doing because they aren’t urgent.
I then read When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing where Dan Pink provides evidence and countless research that supports the theory of when we do our best work. He refers to a ‘peak-trough-rebound pattern’ where our best work is done in the mornings, less so in the afternoon, and a late afternoon burst before dinner.
So here I was … I had decided that my mornings were sacred, and I had plenty of evidence to tell me this was a good choice towards improving my productivity and quality of work. Next was the hard part: I had to implement my decision.
I’m not sure what tricks and games you play to help you with accountability but I like telling someone important about my decision—this helps me stick to my word a little more firmly. I sat down with my Business Manager, Niki and explained my new standard. We discussed what my diary needed to look like to make this possible. After some discussion and a commitment from me to put this into practice, we decided not to schedule any meetings before 10.00 am each day.
The intention now was for me to start my day in a way that best served me (which ultimately best serves my team and my clients).
For years I have been following the great leadership coach Robin Sharma. Robin is an author of many best sellers. In a recent book, The 5am Club, Robin presents the benefits and formulas in his revolutionary morning routine that starts at 5 am every day. It’s a fantastic read, and I recommend it to anyone who wants to understand the science and effects of starting your day at 5 am.
For the past nine months, my mornings have included:
Early rise (normally around 5.30 am)
Meditation and/or Yoga (from 6 till 7.15 am)
Breakfast and coffee (Oh yes, that first cup is the BEST of the day.)
Writing, planning, thinking, creating, designing (from 8 to 10.00 am)
This new morning practice has taken a huge amount of discipline from me and Niki. At times, it was tricky to gently push back on people who want to meet in the morning. Yet in the same breath, it has been empowering to know I am doing it for the best practice of work and productivity. In the long run, everyone is benefiting.
Are there days where this boundary cannot be honoured? Yes. Do I beat myself up about that? No. If there is an exception to the standard, it is simply that—an exception.
So, it is 9.32 am as I finish writing this blog. I’m due for another cup of coffee now. I have my first zoom conference call at 10.00 am today and then I’ll be off and running.
At first, I thought setting boundaries was a little selfish. Now I know they are a window into amplifying how I go about better serving people in my life. I am in a better frame of mind knowing all the ‘important’ work has already been dealt with.
‘Love Being in Service’
‘Stop looking for something, stop going in circles. Come back and arrive in the present moment. If we practice mindful walking, every step can bring us home. Our true home is in the present moment, here and now. Every mindful breath brings our body and mind together so that we establish oneness of body and mind in the present moment. We feel that we have arrived. We are at home and there is nothing more we need to do, there is nowhere we need to go. Only then can real healing take place.’
Thich Nhat Hanh