Sunday, August 17, 2014

Boundaries and Margin

A couple weeks ago, I went to Thailand and met and re-connected with some incredible people. I was encouraged, challenged, refined, humbled and loved. Deeply. We are often so busy doing our own work, we rarely remember each other or make time to catch up. Or at least, that’s the case for me. Out of sight, out of mind. One of the lessons I took away from Thailand was about boundaries and margin.

Spring 2014 was grueling. It was wonderful. But grueling. I was challenged in ways I didn’t know needed stretching. Father brushed away some cobwebs and dusted the crannies of forgotten parts of my heart. Well, parts I had forgotten about, not that He had. 

I can honestly say and see that I was on the verge of “burnout.” I didn’t realize it at the time. I just felt tired, empty, useless and ineffective. While in Thailand, I learned that was a symptom of a life without boundaries and margin.

Boundaries: a limit, imaginary line or unofficial rule of what can and cannot be done. Acceptable and non-acceptable behavior. 

Margin: a reserve, extra time, money, supplies or space used in a the time of need for you or others. (You should have a DAILY reserve. A little extra time every day for you.)

See the difference in boundaries and margin? I didn’t at first. Boundaries are guidelines for your personal life and work life. What are you willing to do and not do? How much can you invest in something or someone? Margin is extra time/money/space for extra stuff that might come up. Is your schedule so full that you don’t have breaks? Do you have free time? Are you always running from one thing to another?

Don’t forget to communicate these boundaries and margins. You should be able to say “no” to things/people in love. When you have decided to cut something out, stick with that decision. But say “no” with love. Hopefully, this will also help you say “yes” in confidence. You will know you have extra time, money or space to help an out an unexpected friend. Or if something fun comes up, you have the ability to say “yes” with out having to cancel something else or move things around. Do not suffer from the “Disease to Please.”

Consequences of no boundaries/margin
  1. Burnout
  2. Stress-related disease
  3. Relationship problems
  4. Lack of productiveness
  5. Lower quality of life, work and overall satisfaction
  6. Eventually results in a chaotic life
  7. Potentially career-ending
Rewards of boundaries/margin
  1. At your personal potential
  2. Have reserves to help people
  3. Healthier relationships
  4. Good example to others
  5. Sustainable life and work/ministry
So, now you see the benefits and dangers of boundaries and margin. How do you make it happen? Here’s how! Make 3 lists. List EVERYTHING that takes up your time, all things that keep you busy.

God-given Obligations
These things are nonnegotiable.
Things might include; a quiet time, a Sabbath, worship, exercise, sleep, ministry, work, etc.
If this list is bigger than all the others, something is wrong. Maybe you are carrying a burden that’s not yours to carry. Maybe it’s time to ask for help. Maybe you need to delegate some things.

These things are negotiable.
There are expectations others may have for you; going to dinner, hanging out, babysitting, work parties, event planning, etc.
There are expectations you have for yourself; meeting with a certain number of people a week, following-up on certain relationships, planning, weight loss goals, etc.
Are these things realistic? Are these things binding? Are these things worth your time and effort? Can you really do those things?
Some things might have to be cut out. That’s why they are negotiable!

Bucket List
Things you hope to do this month, this year, the next 5 years!
It’s always good to have dreams and ambitions.
This can be fun stuff; travel, learning a language, learning how to play an instrument, etc.

Okay, now you have lists and categories and you’re organized. What’s next? Planning!!!

Print off some calendars; daily, weekly, monthly, yearly.

Do what works for you! If you are good with a weekly plan, do that. If you are a little more detailed, do it daily-style. If you know you want to take a vacation in January, put it in there. Don’t allow yourself to change that. Stick to it! Vacations are ok. If you want to work out every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, put it on there. And do it. This is all Part One of the process. Part Two is execution. I haven’t gotten there yet. But I’m a go-getter, so I feel confident I’ll do it.