Workaholics Anonymous—A 12-Step Program of Recovery and Personal Transformation (Step 2)
The speed of life has never been faster than it is today… and it is speeding up exponentially.
• 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.
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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