I’m a big fan of happiness and habits guru Gretchen Rubin. (If you’re into podcasts, be sure to check out Happier with Gretchen Rubin.) I’ve been excited to crack open Gretchen’s A Happier 2017 desk calendar since it arrived as a pre-order in August. The first daily prompt encouraged me to select one word to capture the energy I want to pursue in 2o17. One of the suggestions immediately jumped from the page and caught my attention.
Boundaries. It’s a loaded word that doesn’t always carry the most positive connotation, and I think it’s time we reclaim it. To quote one of my favorite writers, Parker J. Palmer, “Boundaries create the space for reverence.” Boundaries allow the many competing aspects of life to work together harmoniously. Boundaries are the difference between a satisfying life and a hot mess. Most of us usually associate boundaries with relationships, but this issue actually affects nearly every aspect of everyday life.
Here are a few examples of the different types of boundaries that influence us:
- Sleep boundaries. Option #1: Stay up as late as physically possible trying to squeeze every iota of time from the evening, then spend the next day sucking down coffee and struggling to maintain even minimal productivity. Option #2: Shut down electronics early, read for 30 minutes, and then get a full night of rest. Wake up feeling energized and ready to actually expend some brainpower.
- Food boundaries. Sometimes I find myself snacking on crap all day long, which leaves me feeling lethargic and unsatisfied. When I make an effort to eat consciously, sitting down to truly savor and enjoy nutritious, yummy meals, I feel immensely better.
- Social boundaries. I sometimes find myself saying yes to every social invitation that comes my way. I’m a very social person, and I have lots of awesome friends I genuinely want to see as much as possible. I’ll admit my husband and I sometimes spend weekends frantically scurrying to multiple social engagements a day (usually always the result of my chronic overscheduling). Instead of enjoying time with friends, we feel stressed and drained. This year, I want time with friends to feel like it should: Energizing and fun. And that may mean taking a quality over quantity approach to socializing.
- Alcohol boundaries. The first glass of wine or beer is always better than the second or third. I’m at a point in my life where overindulging in alcohol robs me of much more joy than it brings. Wine and Goldfish may pair wonderfully, but hangovers don’t pair well with early-morning childcare.
- Financial boundaries. My closet is full of cheap clothes from Target and Old Navy. This year, I want to firm up my financial boundaries to focus on saving for things I really want, need, and care about, not just instant gratification purchases.
- And yes, the big one: relationship boundaries. The old classic. As someone who has struggled with shame and poor self-esteem in the past, I have a tendency to be extremely hard on myself. I worry I haven’t done enough to support others. I blame myself for things that aren’t my fault. I read into things people say (and the things they don’t say). I try to fix problems that aren’t mine to fix. My motto for 2017 is, “You worry about your issues, and I will worry about mine.”
Really, this can all be summed up as: Choose Lasting Joy. It’s about doing things that are good for me not just because I should, but because I love the way they make me feel. I value myself and my time much more now that I’m a mom, and it’s time for me to ditch some habits that are holding me back. Getting my boundaries in order will help me live the life of purpose and intention that I deserve.
What word would you pick to define your 2017 goals?