Workaholics Anonymous—A 12-Step Program of Recovery and Personal Transformation (Step 2)

[Index: INTRO, Step 11b233b4566b7899b1010b1112]

The speed of life has never been faster than it is today… and it is speeding up exponentially.

Consider this:
• There is more information in a daily edition of
The New York Times than a person experienced in their lifetime in the 18th century.

• More information is added to the Internet in one week than was available in the history of mankind up through the 19th century.

• In 2006, the amount of data created and captured is more than 3 million times all the information in all the books ever written. On top of that, 3,000 new books are published each and every day.

• 210 billion e-mails are sent every day, more than 2 million every second. For the 1.3 billion e-mail users, that equals an average of 161 demands on our time every day.

• The number of text messages sent and received every day exceeds the population of the planet.

• In 2004, it was estimated that knowledge was doubling every 18 months. IBM now predicts in the next couple of years, information will double every 11 hours.

For a workaholic, these are dangerous times. The natural boundaries of work, personal and family times have been obliterated. Technology has pierced the walled garden between these important segments of our lives. There is now a constant open door to our attention, one that is always connected, always available for contact and always at the mercy of a never-ending stream of information and demands. Each day we wake up with an inbox full of e-mail and we swim all day in incoming phone calls, instant messages, text messages, news updates, notes, files and paperwork—all with new requests and demands on our time.

In STEP 1 we discussed the importance of focusing on a few major priorities, instead of everything. Hopefully, you have stopped doing the minor tasks that keep your accumulative achievements minor, and you now have the time to commit yourself to the major projects that will contribute to your breakthrough achievements. Now that you have removed many of the distracting tasks and activities, it becomes important to protect against the accumulation of new ones.

STEP 2: Create and Protect Your Boundaries

1. Put a “junk” filter on your life.

In order to filter incoming requests, it is important to first get clear on what you do want.
1. Start with your values. Who are you? Who do you want to become? What is most important to you in life? What direction do you want your life to take?
2. Put focus on your goals. What are your three most important goals for the year? This month? This week? Today?
3. Identify what and who is important. Decide what areas of your life you want to develop and expand, and then leave room for it.

After ”whitelisting” everything associated with the above, put a junk filter on everything else and keep it out of your inbox and off your “to-do” list.

2. Just say NO.

Nancy Reagan was right. There is no middle ground here. If it doesn’t fit your priority list, then you have to start drawing the line in the sand. This is one of the most important disciplines you can develop to unhook yourself from your addictions. Not being able to say “no” stems from not having clarity and conviction about your own direction in life.

If you aren’t comfortable with saying “no,” say “no, thank you.” People most often over-commit because they try to please everyone, need to feel liked, or are afraid to disappoint people. If you have trouble saying “no,” it’s because you are a pleaser. If you feel you need to provide an explanation, simply state, “That sounds really great. I wish there were more time in the day, but unfortunately I just don’t have the time right now. Thanks for thinking of me anyway!”

3. You get in life what you TOLERATE.

This is one of the greatest success philosophies I’ve ever heard. You get in life what you tolerate is true in every area of your life — relationships with family, friends and colleagues. What you have decided to tolerate is also reflected in the situations and circumstances of your life right now. Put another way, you will get in life what you accept and expect you are worthy of.

If you tolerate disrespect, you will be disrespected. If you tolerate people being late and making you wait, people will show up late for you. If you tolerate being underpaid and overworked, that will continue for you. If you tolerate your body being overweight, tired and perpetually sick, it will be.

It’s amazing how life will organize around the standards you set for yourself. Some think they are the victim of other people’s behavior, but in actuality, we have ultimate control over how people treat us. So many people live at the end of strings, like a puppet to outside forces. Protect your emotional, mental and physical space so you can live in flow and with peace, rather than in the chaos and stress the world will hurl upon you.

Support Network
It was very interesting and informative to read everyone’s “stop doing” list in the last post. Continue this collective instruction by listing 3 things (in the comment section below) you are no longer going to tolerate in your life going forward.

Here are three things I do not tolerate:

1. People being late. I will just leave if someone is more than 15 minutes late without calling to explain. For regular office meetings that perpetually start late, I ask people to text me when everyone is finally assembled and ready, rather than being the guy always on time and having his time wasted.
2. Phone in my house. I never answer my house phone. I don’t like being subject to someone else’s availability or solicitation. I return calls when it’s most meaningful and productive for me.
3. TV. I personally don’t watch broadcast TV at all, but I don’t allow it to be on during dinner, and I don’t allow news programs to be running in the background.

Next Week — Step 3: We will discuss how to take these new boundaries to the next level of achievement.

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  1. L says:

    Wow this is great. Especially the section about toleration. I put up with a lot in my life, and I want more ideas on the process of not tolerating something.

    Health – how can I not tolerate a health problem I’ve had that’s been bothering me for awhile? I don’t think it’s realistic to just “put my foot down” and say that I won’t tolerate this disease anymore, and then just hope it goes away because I’m being strict with it! :D Or is it? How would one go about not tolerating a health problem?
    [DARREN HARDY] You have control of two actions – 1) whether you let it linger and own you or if you attack it – find out everything you need to know on how to heal, remedy or support your situation. Research, study, consult every specialist you can and follow their direction religiously. 2) you have control of how you respond to your situation. As Montel Williams said to me in a recent interview – you can have a disease, just don’t ever let the disease have you. Choose to live and be happy – your disease/illness/circumstance doesn’t define you.

    Family – in a marriage sometimes you can’t say “I won’t tolerate your relatives being inconsiderate/imposing anymore”, especially with foreign relatives used to a different culture. (my situation) What is the process for “not tolerating” how relatives act when they must interact with you in your own home/environment? Putting your foot down sometimes is not loud enough.
    [DARREN HARDY] You can express your boundaries of how people interact with you and you can choose to limit your exposure to those people. AND you might take a look at your own interaction with them, you might be the cause to some of their response/interaction with you. Consider it.

  2. Marianne says:

    I am giving myself permission to no longer tolerate and not feel bad about it….

    long overdue 1) thinking about others..instead of me first! no more
    2) letting negative people influence me and sucking out my precious
    3) by-passing opportunities ( b/c million of excuses at any given time)

  3. Buck says:

    I will not tolerate:
    1. Hypocrisy
    2. Lateness
    3. Empty promises

  4. chidozie Pius Ibe says:

    1. I won’t tolerate procrastination and evil cravings [self indulgences].
    2. I won’t tolerate wasting time on things that doesn’t add value to my life at all.
    3. I won’t tolerate not going to church activities as the manner of some is.

    Thanks Darren – you are awesome! More grace and joy everlasting!

  5. Jorge says:

    I will not tolerate:

    1) People telling me what to do.
    2) Others telling me I cannot make it happen.
    3) My own inconsistency to begin and not finish projects or life habits!!

    Please provide the “source” for the data quoted on this post. Thanks.

  6. Cari says:

    Thank you for this subject matter – I, too, need these 12 Steps! Here is my list for Step 2.

    1. I am no longer going to tolerate my laziness. I can carve out time to relax but I will no longer accept laziness as a form of relaxing.
    2. I am no longer going to tolerate a lack of accountability on my part or those around me.
    3. I am no longer going to accept my average life. I desire and am capable of being a larger impact in the world. I want to create and live in my own life’s story.

  7. Gloria Christiansen says:

    1. I won’t tolerate my own procrastination
    2. I won’t tolerate wasting time on To do’s that don’t lead me towards my goal
    3. I won’t tolerate stop going to the gym

    Thanks Darren – you are awesome!

  8. Jack Zufelt says:

    Very wise advice and engaging post as you can see from all the comments this post has received.

  9. jp says:

    Great job darren

    It is starting to change my life

    Here the 3 things i will not tolerate :

    1. Being late
    2. anything less than excellence
    3. saying yes just to please


  10. jp says:

    I will not tolerate

    1. anything less than excellence
    2. Being late
    3. saying yes just to please

  11. jp says:

    I will not tolerate

    1. anything less than excellence
    2. Being late
    3. saying yes just to please

  12. jp says:

    I will not tolerate

    1. anything less than excellence
    2. Being late
    3. saying yes just to please

  13. Elizabeth Walker says:

    I would LOVE our entrepreneurial clients to say this!
    I will not tolerate:
    1. spending a minute of my day with a client who is not Ideal (delegate clients who are not a joy to be with, who don’t pay on time and who don’t provide above-average margins to someone else)
    2. spending a minute of my day with prospects who will never be Ideal
    3. spending a minute of my day on “to-do’s” that don’t let me do 1 and 2 above

  14. Anirudh says:

    I will NOT tolerate -

    1. my own procrastination and negative thoughts in my mind.

    2. people who take other people and their time for granted.

    3. being lazy in any aspect of my life.

    looking forward to step-3 !

  15. Anna King ( says:

    1. excuses
    2. Excuses
    3. EXCUSES

  16. Eng. Shiribwa says:

    I will write my goals and stick on them like glue!

  17. Brad says:

    Things I will no longer tolerate

    1) People who lack personal responsibility
    2) Accepting less for myself than I truly deserve
    3) Apathy for the little efforts that will lead me to achieving my goals (more discipline)

  18. Debbie says:

    I am no longer going to tolerate:
    1) The words I can’t because I know I CAN and WILL do whatever I put my mind to.
    2) Excuses, my own or other peoples.
    3) Negative people/tv/radio around me

  19. Monique says:

    1.) I do not tolerate negative people in my sphere.

    2.) I do not tolerate mediocre thoughts/dreams.

    3.) I do not tolerate quitting.

  20. Matt says:

    I am no longer going to tolerate:
    1. Other peoples excuses.
    2. Being out of shape.
    3. The voices in my head that tell me I can’t do it.

  21. Sanjay says:

    1. Any excuse for not getting work done on time. Even though it got delayed because of someone else.

    2. People (including myself) who don’t keep their promises. Now, I don’t promise or commit to others until I am 100% sure that I’ll complete the task I am taking responsibility. If my task depend on others, I’ll add extra time just to be on safe side.

    3. People, who take others for granted just because the other person is nice (A yes man/woman)!


    Keep up the good work! BTW, where can I find the link for step1?


  22. Paul says:

    I am no longer going to tolerate:
    1. Missing deadlines on tasks. Because I am a Da Vinci (ADD) – I start a lot of things and find it a challenge to follow through, either due to other people or things that I allow to distract my attention :)

    2. Inability to say NO. I’ve found that I tend to say YES a lot. Partially because I am an ESFJ. We tend to want to please people and do what others would like for us to do.

    3. Missing workouts. It’s a part of my STOP doing list but I need not tolerate myself making excuses not to workout. My genes or something allows me to get away with it, but it will catch me I am sure :)

    Moving Onward, Moving Upward!

  23. Ursula says:

    1-Negative People and opinions
    2-Procastination (including my own)
    3-Some news programs

  24. Graham says:

    I do not tolerate:
    1. Failure.
    2. Other people’s issues.
    3. CNN

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