Friday, January 29, 2010

Burnout and Boundaries

This article has been posted before a couple of years ago ... but at this time of the year, I think it's quite appropriate to post it again.

Burnout and Boundaries
by Donna L. Watkins

We're a bit of the way into a new year now and we can evaluate whether or not our lives are matching up to what we thought about at the end of last year and the beginning of this one. I find that end of years is a time when I do a lot of pondering about what my previous year looked like.

© 2007 Donna L. Watkins - Roadrunner in CA Desert
What did I accomplish? Did I set my priorities correctly? Did I set boundaries on how I would use my time and finances? Did I enforce those boundaries on myself and others so that I could accomplish what I felt was my God-given assignment for that year?

If we don't put the important things in life first, they will never be included in our days run by "tyranny of the urgent." Do you ever complain about your busy schedule and how much there is to get done? Who made the schedule? Oh, I know! I've been there loading up my schedule because of all the things I "had to do" or my segment of the world would fall apart. I felt like my family required so much, but looking back I can take full credit for putting that pressure on myself. It all had to be done my way which, of course, was the "right" way. :-)

I remember somebody telling me that Martha Washington was dead for 200 years but Mount Vernon was still being cleaned and cared for. That visual image has stayed with me for many years.

Tony Campolo talks of a time when he was a child and had a close relationship with the guy who ran The Franklin Institute. He retained that friendship until the man died. He made it to his bedside after a stroke, telling him he came right from the airport because he had been speaking. The man replied, "You go all over the world to people, who 10 years from now won't remember your name, but you haven't time for those who really care about you."

Tony could've been offended, but he took those words to heart and changed his life. As always when we change our outlook on life, we attract others who have done the same. He had a friend who got a call from the White House asking him to consult with the President. His friend said no because he'd promised to be with his granddaughter. The nation survived and with this kind of grandfather, I'm sure that little girl learned a lot about doing what's truly important in life.

We are influenced by advertising and books that tell us we don't have any self-worth so we must spin ourselves trying to create it. Do you take time for what's important in life? Are you spending time with those who care about you? Maybe you don't believe anybody cares for you, so you run to and fro seeking acceptance and praise for what you accomplish. I can ask the question .... I've been there.

Most of my life was spent believing that it was what I got done that was all important ... and yet when I look back, I don't find that the ones I was performing for were even noticing. Oh yes, I got a few comments from "the crowd" about how much I got done and that my Super Woman cape was always without wrinkles.

If I had the choice to choose again, would I trade those hectic to-do-driven years for those few comments? Never! May I presume to guess that you won't either, so maybe you'd like to turn around before looking back is so far away.

Jesus never rushed about and he took plenty of time for rest and relaxation. He spent time with those most important to him and His mission on earth.

What is your mission? Jesus honored Mary who sat at his feet while Martha was caught up in the duties of the moment having to "do it all now." Do we get our timing and priorities mixed? I still struggle with it. I had too many years of doing it wrong. I now have to make sure my boundaries are secure.

We can resent the people who pressure us to do what they want, which feeds our silent anger and causes physical, emotional and spiritual problems. We are called to determine what is right in our own heart and to act on it. We need to take responsibility for our lives, learning to put first things first.

Don't expect everybody to understand, and don't do it with arrogance. If there are people who depend on you, work it out. Make a plan to bow out and work the plan. If you lose some friends, you'll know they had their own agenda. You are losing nothing and gaining all.

Don't let life slip by. Seek your heart on what you truly want your life to look like when you are 10 years down the road looking back. What do you want your children and grandchildren and spouse to remember? More important than that is this: What do you want to remember? Only you can make your life what you want it to be. I believe the reason some people age so much as they get older is the regrets they carry. We all have time to make it different. Each day is a gift.

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