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December 10, 2012

Boundaries: The Challenge

A few years ago, I read the book "Boundaries" by Cloud & Townsend. If you've never read it, I highly recommend it. Second to the Bible, it is the book that has changed my life more than any
other.  As I was reading it, I started to see areas of my life where I needed to establish boundaries.

Boundaries by Cloud & Townsend

My number one issue [at the time I read the book] was that I was allowing my job to completely consume me. I absolutely loved teaching, but if you've ever been a teacher or you know a [committed] teacher, you realize that it can easily consume and leave little time for other important things.

Everyone's life - Everyone's situation - Everyone's personality is different. These are just some things that made a huge difference for me - in my work life and beyond:

I started delegating! Let me tell you - for the most part, I am a Type-A personality. I am a perfectionist. I am a list-maker. I'm usually the one to complete the tasks on my list, and I am much more comfortable that way. However, I started delegating tasks - and if I can do it, anyone can! Things were not always done the exact way I would have done them, but I learned very quickly how to cope with this. Deep breathing exercises were of great help to me. *smile*

I stopped rescuing people! Here me out here: True emergency situations? I am there! Rescuing people who continually have crisis situations because they are irresponsible over and over again? No more! I realize that these people will always find someone to bail them out of their messes, but that person was no longer me. I can not tell you the freedom this change brought. One of my new favorite quotes: "Lack of planning on your part does not call for an emergency on my part." Amen & Amen!

I started saying "No!" Okay, maybe I didn't say it in such a strong way - I tried, "probably not", "no, thank you", "I'm sorry, but I don't think that's going to work for me", "I'll pray about it" get the idea. Quick Note: Cloud & Townsend encourage you to never apologize when you say no for the right reasons and in the right way. It is truly ok to just say "No!". People will not always respond well to your boundaries (especially when it involves your children), but that is their problem - not yours.
P.S. It is okay to say "No!" even when it comes to serving in your church. Yes, we are saved to serve. Yes, everyone should be serving, giving, and sacrificing in the ways that God has directed them. However, so many people are in positions of service simply because "no one else would step up", and they are over committed, frustrated, and burnt out. Their family life is suffering because they feel like they can't say "no!". Why has no become such a dirty word?

"Often he who does too much does too little." - Italian Proverb

I stopped taking work home! Teacher-friends would ask, "How in the world are you pulling this off, Liz?" Here are a few things I did: 1.) During planning periods, I shut my classroom door, turned down the lights, and worked non-stop! 2.) During independent work time, students were actually required to work independently. Only true emergency issues could be brought to my desk, and during that time, I worked non-stop! 3.) I accepted that sometimes there would be unfinished work left on my desk - One of my principals would remind us, "Teaching is like housework. Your job is never really finished." Her advice encouraged me to relax and not stress when things were left for the next day. 4.) I also started implementing so many of those great "Self-Assessment Strategies" I had learned in grad school. Yes, they take some work to kick off, but they save so much time in the end. It's truly amazing what happens when you start allowing students to grade some of their own work. Most of the time, they are actually far tougher on themselves than the teacher would ever be.

Now, as a stay-at-home mom, I have a totally different type of work load to manage. While it is a different environment, it still requires the same game plan - prioritize, reprioritize, and then rereprioritize. (I think I just made up a new word. Cool!)

A Work-in-Progress

"While normal people continue to add items to their to-do list, maybe you should do something weird instead: start a to-don't list." -Craig Groeschel

To read a little bit about the boundaries I have establish with blogging hop over and check out
To My Fellow Mommy Bloggers

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