The more I looked around, the more I saw areas where over-giving was spreading like a bad disease.
Business was one of the big areas.
The startup community is all about scratching each other’s backs.
I saw myself doing a lot of scratching. Not because I wanted to have the mutually beneficial two way exchange of knowledge, help and support, but because I felt like I needed to help them in any way I could.
I was time poor for the important things, and this is a lot to do with not investing my time wisely and over-giving. This habit needed to be kicked before it became expected.
There is always a place for kindness, compassion, support and helping a friend out, but when it becomes a constant demand from you it might be time to step back and see how much time and energy is being spent because you think you need to, versus want to.
Consider this: if you throw yourself into the ocean to save someone else without taking a moment to put on a life jacket is this the best solution?
What if you both drown? What if there was an easier and safer way to do this that would have kept you both safe?
By staying on the ship and throwing over a life saving device, or looking after yourself for a moment before you jump in, this leaves both of you with a lot more options. It also keeps you safe to help others in the future.
What does this look like in real life?
For me I began to look over where I was investing my energy. There was a lot I could see being driven by my unconscious need to over-give.
The list was unexpected and made things glaringly obvious – most of this wasn’t where I wanted to be spending my time or energy.
I went for a walk to help me process what I’d just realised.
I thought about what was most important to me. Who were the people I loved most? What areas of my life were most important? What topped me up so I had fuel in the tank at the end of the day?
A lot of this was also what makes me be a better person for me and everyone else.
Things began to click in my head.
When I’m consciously running my business, I’m always weighing up output versus input. When I do this the results speak for themselves.
Why do I not extend this into my personal life to at least some degree? Why don’t I take a moment to see if I have the time/energy/want to do something before jumping right in?
When I made this choice everything that is truly important to me all of a sudden had life breathed back into it. My life once again reflected the amazing one that I choose to create.
My life was my own again and I could breathe.
It’s a deeply engrained pattern so I began to look around for some tangible examples of people who have managed to do this in a balanced way. They began popping up in my life and this was the final step to creating personal boundaries.