It's been my absolute privilege to create a brand that allows me to share my original words & host a community that lovingly connects with them. So thank you for being a part of the blackline community and for speaking back into my world through your emails, comments and messages!
Whilst I release all my quotes into the world with the hope that they meet & inspire you in whatever space and circumstance you find yourself, this series will unpack what my own rationale & inspiration was behind my words.
"Guard your heart, guard your time" - the blackline
I know, I know. You've most likely heard this idea before.
But before you sign it off as a concept you have nailed to perfection, I challenge you to revisit this quote in depth with me!
In the same way you concentrate intently the first time you're taught to reverse park and slowly grow in confidence to be able to do it mindlessly, it's easy to jump into auto-mode when hearing or reading words. You listen to & read the words, agree with them, without absorbing and applying them to your life.
These words have become a foundational pillar in my life over the last year and as I've applied them to every aspect of my day, I've realised that despite having heard them many times, I've never truly applied them to my life. If I had, I'd have implemented boundaries, firm values and strict parameters around what I would and would not do and for whom (Doesn't that sound "fun"! I thought so too in the past! That's why I avoided them..but now with some in place, I feel liberated and free).
As an empathic human being, it's easy to mistake 'being self-sacrificial' with 'being nice, being kind and being good'. It's easy to mistake 'doing that urgent task that only you can do' with 'helping out a friend, looking out for the greater good & being a team player'.
In reality, without proper checkpoints, you're not guarding your heart or time. And choosing to do this once, can lead to the expectation you'll always do it.
So here are a few ideas to get you thinking about whether this is a quote you've activated in your life or not -
Who are your 12?
Who will you have in your bunker when the world ends? Who are the 12 people in in your inner sanctum who share a give-and-take relationship with you? Before listing names, consider the following -
1) Your family members and your partner are not welcomed into this inner 12 by birth right or status. Consider carefully who champions you, who you cheer-lead, who you share deep relationship with and not just history and blood. (If your partner isn't making the cut, they're probably worth some re-consideration!)
2) Consider whether your relationship is one-sided. This is not always obvious. It's easy for someone to say they love you and you mean the world to them but do their actions line up consistently. Are they there when you need them? Are they only there when you need them? (Strangely, I've had this scenario before - and it seems really loving, until you realise they just love being a hero but not being your friend!) And beware of energy vampires*! It's really easy to get sucked into thinking you're friends with someone who recognises and speaks to your inner demons and fears - finally acknowledging you for things that you weren't acknowledged for in the past. You'll allow them to do anything because they speak to that one area of your life. But know that if you let them in, they'll never want to leave (and you probably won't realise you need them to leave for a very long time!)
3) Do you even have 12? And will your 12 always remain the same? Probably not, so this is an exercise to go through on an on-going basis. This isn't license to cut people out of your life but rather re-frame your understanding of where they fit into your life and treat them accordingly. It's time to reconsider the quality not quantity of friendships you are investing time into.
Now for your values and day-makers
Once you've established who the 12 or less legends are in your tribe, it's time to look at the 12 values or day-makers that make you smile consistently, make you who you are and encourage you to keep being your best. This can be anything simple from 45 minutes of power yoga a day to having flowers in the house always to more ambitious needs, like exploring a new country for a few weeks of every year. Whatever it is, make it meaningful. Make it something that you really desire and need in your life and not just a flight of passing fancy.
Congratulations on getting this far! This is hardly a 20 minute exercise for most of us and can be emotionally exhausting.
Now it's time to look at your two lists side by side - your tribe and what makes you vibe - against your monthly calendar.
I know. Shocking! Chances are, that unless you've done this before, you've filled your calendar with acquaintances, birthdays, hens parties, work, weddings (all of which are beautiful and wonderful things to do in their own right) that leave you emotionally exhausted without time to dedicate to the things that maximise your potential.
The challenge I'm setting you is to look at your lists and schedule time for them proportionately to your calendar. You'll no doubt have friends and acquaintances in your life vying for your time, but are they in your inner 12? Is your friendship with them worthy of monopolising three weekends and 8 weeknights out of your month? Do you want to spend money on events you weren't eager to attend at the cost of your annual overseas trip? Should you sacrifice on having flowers in your home because you're broke from the never-ending events & birthdays in your life? Do you have the option of taking your friend out for a drink to celebrate instead of committing to the three-day-birthday-extravaganza she's organised with everyone she's ever known and her dog in attendance?
This may sound selfish if you have any over-active guilt complex (That would be me!) or if you find that you're prone to being in other peoples' 12 but don't in fact have them in yours (This is the guy who has been Best Man several times, but wouldn't consider having any of the grooms' in his wedding party). But trust me, I know from experience, you can't live your best life if you're serving everyone elses idea of their best life.
So take it slowly, consider each event as they arise. Don't jump in and say yes, delay and consult your calendar. Make sure that you're flexible but you're dedicating appropriate amounts of time to recharge and protect yourself from the "busyness" of life.
For full disclosure, I'm far from nailing this aspect of my own life. But I've begun and that's a win in itself. Starting with good intentions, making it a daily habit instead of a goal and keeping incredible friends (most likely one of your 12) around you who will support your progress (who will understand and forgive you when this affects their time with you!) will see you nailing this concept to perfection in no time at all!
Did you want to read more about this idea? Here are some of my suggested books & podcasts that may help you guard your heart & guard your time -
The Power of A Positive No - William Ury (For everyone who fears having to put and maintain boundaries in their lives)
*Dodging Energy Vampires - Podcast with The Mike & Kate Show (Pre-Warning: It gets a little new-agey for my liking but the psychology is valuable and true).