Always Well Within

Calm Your Mind, Ease Your Heart, Embrace Your Inner Wisdom

Limits: The Key to a Thriving Life

School of Fish

Trying to do too much, functioning on automatic, and/or acting out of obligation only leads to a joyless, burned out state.  You might be able to work 60 hours a week for a while, but in the end you will only damage yourself.  And, when the time comes to part with this life, you may very well be wondering, “Why did I waste my precious, limited time on the unnecessary, unimportant, or mundane?”

If you feel like your life is out of control, off track, or just “too” much, maybe it’s time to pause and consider where you can set limits.  A periodic bout of limit setting can bring improvement even when life seems to be moving swimmingly well.

The Wisdom of Limitation

Setting limits is required to live in a conscious and sane way.  Consider all the possible benefits that can come when you take the reins and become the director of your life:

  • The opportunity to focus on the activities that bring you meaning, satisfaction, and joy.
  • Receiving the greatest benefit and return on investment for your energy and time.
  • The ability to do more in less time.
  • The feeling of being in control instead of reacting to what comes down the pike.
  • More energy and less stress.
  • More time for whatever is most important to you from special work projects to relationships to leisure activities.

Three Essential Questions for Designing a Reasonable Life

How do you focus on the important and let go of the rest?  Try out these three essential questions to help you set realistic limits and design a more reasonable life.

1.  What’s Your Actual Capacity?

Some people thrive on activity while others are introverts who need introspective time.  Some are robust and others have to contend with less than stellar health.  Be honest about your capacity instead of allowing others to determine the number of hours you work, interact, play, or rest each week.

2.  What Are Your Goals and Priorities?

What is it that you truly wish to accomplish today, this month, this year, this life?  The key to setting effective limits is to have a clear vision of your priorities and goals.  Then, align your choices with your vision and set distractions aside.  Focus only on your most important goals – not more than three – rather than a long list of possibilities that may paralyze you with confusion or doubt.

3.  What Could You Limit?

Review your life for non-essential, time-wasting tasks and energy draining activities that detract from your happiness.  Explore the following arenas, ask what’s really necessary, and begin hacking away.

  • Possessions
  • Clothes
  • Work Projects
  • Social Activities
  • Social Media Engagement
  • Number of Clients
  • Healthcare Appointments
  • Blogging
  • Negative Thoughts
  • Thinking Too Much
  • Energy Drains
  • Perfectionism
  • Giving More Than 100%
  • Obligations
  • Time Wasters
  • Clutter
  • Reading – Blogs, Newspapers, Books
  • T.V.
  • Everything – Is a vacation or sabbatical in order?

What did I miss?

Setting My Limits

I’m setting limits myself.  It seems everywhere I turn I see or hear a message advising me to do just this.  My April I-Ching Report spoke of the freedom that comes for establishing limits.  Then, my April horoscope spelled it out beyond doubt:

“Limit distractions so you can shine your torch on your innermost desires.

Most importantly,  I feel this in the core of my being.  So, with this in mind, I’m taking a break this week.  You won’t see me online!

Could your life use a limit review?  Are there areas where you are taking on too much? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Thank you for your presence, I know your time is precious!  Don’t forget to sign up for my e-letter and get access to all the free self-development resources (e-books, mini-guides + worksheets) in the Always Well Within Library. May you be happy, well, and safe – always.  With love, Sandra

Image:  99of9


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  1. Wow! Enjoy your break offline, Sandra. I’ve been looking at this issue as well. I’m working on limiting possessions–we have far, far too many and they are threatening to overtake the house. Every weekend I work on giving away more of them–even my beloved books. I’m also limiting my time in that I’m choosing to spend more of it on what I really want to do–writing. Thanks for another great post and see you when you get back!

    • Hi Charlotte,

      We’re in sync, aren’t we! You’ve underlined the heart of the matter: choosing to spend more time on what you really want to do. I know, for me, paring down is going to be an ongoing process similar to yours. Stay on priority I find more challenge, but I know we can both get there!

  2. Laura

    Really feeling this as well, Sandra. So this morning was set aside for reading.
    Also, I’m realizing that when an unexpected event comes up in life (illness or other stress) it’s good to back out of a few other activities for awhile.
    It’s so true that some people like a higher level of activity than some others. Important thought!
    Thanks. <3

    • Laura, I’m happy for you! Reading is one of my most enjoyable activities. That’s a really good point about unexpected events too! Thanks for that thought.

  3. You were reading my mind i thought as i read your opening words:) Just how i felt this morning and here I am blog visiting when I know that tiday was the time to set my intention for April, and beyond as the first quarter has already passed and some of my to dos still are to be done ! I then checked out my horoscope on the site you shared- yes I know another distraction and read “you’re not quite ready to end this hibernation thing yet.” From reading my monthly horoscope I think i might benefit from following you decision and take a week off line 🙂 I am doing to take your list and start my own limiting of activities to shine

    • Go for it, Suzie! Sounds like a bit of hibernation is just what the stars are ordering. I’m inspired by your flexibility and willingness to shift course when everything starts to speak to you like this. Whatever you decide, I hope you enjoy your time.

  4. I’ve been thinking about this, too, but not as strongly as you have. I think two areas I would like to limit are computer time and TV. I don’t watch a lot of TV, but there are really just one or two shows I really like, and I could limit my time to just those.

    I also want to limit my staying up time. I would like to go to bed earlier and get up earlier. With that in mind, I’m turning off the computer now and getting ready for bed. I’ll read for awhile and lights out!

    Enjoy your week off!

    • Those are great choices, Galen! This seems to underline the fact that even when things are going relatively well, we can fine tune them a bit more. I hope you really enjoy these shifts.

  5. jean sampson

    You hit a lot of my distractions, Sandra! I didn’t get students for my evening classes
    so I will be able to spend time with my husband which I have been longing for. I sold several paintings so that made up what the classes would have brought me. I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders—–I just have to trust that paintings will sell or maybe I can have a daytime class. I just know that I don’t want too many evening classes. I will have my Wed night painting class because it is like a family, but I think I will reclaim the other teaching night. I want to be home!
    Enjoy your time off-line!

  6. That’s beautiful! I’m so happy you are reclaiming your evening time and time with your husband, Jean. I pray it all works out perfectly and money still rolls in without a pause!

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