It’s time for me to answer my own questions! Choosing a focus for an entire year is a serious job, so I took my time with these. There are some throwaway answers in here, things I’ve read, heard, or thought about that aren’t tied to the word I chose in the end, but I wanted you to see this process in action.
If you haven’t answered these questions yet yourself, I hope that reading through or listening to mine will help you do it.
What were my favorite books/podcasts that I read/listened to in the last year?
- Writing the Mind Alive – Linda Trichter Metcalf – reading this book and practicing even a month of this writing technique cleared a ton of brain space for me
- Coyote Wisdom: The Power of Story in Healing – Lewis Mehl Madrona – I reread this after about 15 years and it was just as poignant the second time around. The stories we tell about our lives matter.
- Dare To Lead – Brene Brown – great leaders need vulnerability. Vulnerability is a tough one for me and another reason that authenticity is tough. An ex once told me that my worst quality was my fierce independence – talk about control issues
- Becoming – Michelle Obama – just. magic.
- The Joe Rogan Experience Podcast – With David Goggins (#1212) – David Goggins is a motivational speaker who ran multiple ultra marathons. If this podcast doesn’t light a fire under your ass, I don’t know what will.
- The One You Feed Podcast – Johann Hari (#234) – in this episode Eric Zimmer talks to Johann Hari about depression and disconnection. It sparked the post I wrote about breaking up with your support group and it’s been on my mind ever since.
Is there a theme that has been popping up in my life naturally lately?
I have, especially lately, been confronted with the idea that it’s not my job to solve other people’s problems. I’ve known this in my head for ages, but in my body, it’s been a different story. Instead of creating clear boundaries, I’m constantly searching for someone else’s need that I can anticipate and then fulfill before they even know they have it. It leads to me spending a lot of time not connected with myself. This is, I think, one of the issues with authenticity. It’s hard to be authentically me when I’m so focused on everyone else. I also think it’s one of the issues with Burnout which has been a huge theme in 2019 for me. So, both burnout and boundaries (which are probably two sides of the same story) are themes this year.
I read a post on IG by @the_helpers_heart recently that said this:
Boundaries Feel Like:
It is not my job to fix others
It is okay if others get angry
It is okay to say no
It is not my job to take responsibility for others
I don’t have to anticipate the needs of others
It is my job to make me happy
Nobody has to agree with me
I have a right to my own feelings
I am enough
Reading through this list, my chest tightens on a couple (that’s a hint that there’s some room for growth). When I started the burnout book, I found a connection between thoughts of not being good enough and burnout. When I read this list, I find a HUGE connection between boundaries and burnout.
What focus can help me grow in a way that is enjoyable for me?
Staying connected more with myself instead of allowing myself all the distractions. That means more time meditating and exercising (same thing ;)). Less time on my phone. More focus on doing the things I want you to do instead of just writing / talking about them. Transferring intelligence gained to bodily wisdom. Maintaining clear internal and external boundaries so that I’m not annoyed and burning out all the time.
Who do I admire most right now? What do they have that I want to emulate?
Mel Robbins – a get shit done attitude.
David Goggins – creating mind calluses so that you can stop sabotaging yourself
Michelle Obama – truth and vulnerability
A couple of weeks ago at therapy, I told my therapist about a story that a friend shared with me when I was still living in San Diego (so we’re talking 2006). The story goes like this: We have one job while we are here on earth. If you imagine for a second that there is a net that covers the earth and connects us all to one another, you’ll look up and see that above you, there is a knot. Maintaining this knot – that is your only job. It is not your job to fix your neighbor’s knot. It is not your job to judge how well someone else’s knot is doing. Your sole (soul?) focus is maintaining the integrity of YOUR KNOT and by doing this, you make the job easier on the people around you… not by helping them directly, but by focusing on yourself.
That thought game has been on my mind ever since the day I heard it all those years ago and just this past week, I was able to have dinner with the very person who told it to me. Our path’s crossed again on the other side of the world – I love synchronicity.
This story, for me at this point, feeds into the idea of creating boundaries. When I think about boundaries, I often only consider the boundaries that I need to have in place in order to protect myself from the outside. I rarely consider the boundaries that I need to set up for myself from the inside – the ones that will allow me to fulfill the list above. Boundaries are often an issue for people pleasers and when I look up books to help deal with it, I only see things about saying no and being assertive. I don’t see anything about not overstepping my own boundaries from the inside.
When I spend time anticipating everyone’s needs but my own, I abandon my knot. And not only do I abandon my knot, but I am telling the people that I am connected to that I don’t trust their abilities to maintain their own knots. So, with all that said, I think that my word for 2019 is obvious!
2019 – My Focus Is On Healthy Boundaries: Maintaining My Own Knot.
I am guessing that this will end up being a central theme in the burnout book – looking at the world of building internal boundaries. I need to go beyond simply saying no and stop fixing stuff that other people don’t even realize is broken, to begin with!
Your Turn! What’s your focus!