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  • Kelly Swingler

Boundaries Instead Of Goals


This is my last People Perspective of the year. I don't know about you, but I'm feeling knackered and exhausted and I am absolutely ready for some time off with my family and pooch for the next few weeks before getting back to work in the New Year. Any downtime I have in between clients and conversations this week I'm taking as downtime. I'm full of a head cold and feeling a bit crappy, I'm also keeping the conversations going that I want and need to have before I switch off on Friday.

Yesterday in between finishing the Queen's Gambit I did take some time to really think about this year and where I'd like to be next year. All of the goals and plans I set at the end of last year have either vanished completely, be partially met or totally failed. I found myself with new thoughts, a new focus and new things to focus my energy and attention on, like getting through to the end of 2020 with my wellbeing still in tact and a happy and healthy family instead of smashing income targets.

That said, this year has been a success in many ways, many unexpected ways in fact. As a family we are closer than ever. My sons both now have big plans for their futures and we've talked about these at length. My younger brother and sister are now back in the UK which means that not everything falls to me anymore. I've moved house. I've said goodbye a few times to my first born who is now an Engineer in the Navy. I've pushed myself out of my comfort zone. I've started a second business. I've started two new courses and qualifications. I've coached more clients this year than ever before. I've had more new clients than I could have imagined. I've got totally clear on my non-negotiables, have set and maintained much better boundaries for myself, done more speaking events than I thought I could fit in amongst everything else, started working with a new coach, finished two more books and written more guest blogs and articles and I turned 40. I've also lost clients, had numerous projects put on hold, not been paid for all of the work I have done, and had family issues with people outside of our immediate home.

I've cried this year, I've laughed, I've panicked, I've been anxious, worried, hopeful, angry, upset, calm and a whole host of other emotions, sometimes all of these on a daily basis. I've had moments where I've wanted to keep pushing for fear of losing everything, and I've had moments where I've switched off still with so much work to get done just because I've wanted a break. I've had moments of guilt for still having clients and a business and I've had moments of guilt when I've had weeks with no client work whatsoever - I should have worked harder.

But, on the whole, I've prioritised me this year, more so than ever before. And if you've ever heard me talk about my burnout and the importance of self-care, you'll know that self-care has been a priority for me since 2014, this year I made that happen even more. I could though, have taken even more time out and had much more down time. With all of my trips and holidays this year cancelled I've had the odd couple of days off, I've walked, I've exercised, I've binged Netflix, I've devoured more books than ever before, but I've not really had a break, and I'm feeling it. So these last couple of weeks have meant I've needed to slow down, and I've done so where I can.

It seems not everyone has the same idea as me though. Over the last two weeks I have been bombarded by absolute strangers wanted to set up 'exciting calls' to discuss my goals and vision for 2020. Or to discuss 'an exciting opportunity that will benefit us both in the New Year', and I've had several messages of 'you must have missed my last message so here it is again, let's book in a call for this week'.

I have three things that I want to complete next year, the wheels are already in motion, everything is already progressing, the steps already being taken and when I get these done I'll feel great. Other than these, like this year, I just want to see what happens. I'm not setting any other goals. Instead, I'm going to stay focused on my boundaries. I'm going to say yes to the right things and no to the wrong things. I'm going to keep my non-negotiables in place, I'm going to keep prioritising me and I'm going to keep prioritising my family and friends. I absolutely love my work. This year I've brought a different energy to it and I believe that's because I have more energy to give. I will continue to say yes to the work and actions that align to my values and no to the work, clients and actions that don't.

I'm setting boundaries for 2021, not goals. And I believe that by having these boundaries in place I'll be and feel and achieve all that's right for me anyway. I have spent most of my life trying to beat goals and overachieve and overdeliver and over perform and trying to perfect and control things, and this year has meant all of that has had to go out of the window. And whilst I certainly don't eat to repeat any of this year, it's been a constant emotional rollercoaster since March, I am grateful that amongst all of the chaos and upset and unrest that I found that bit more of me that has total clarity, strong values and firm boundaries.

My boundaries have kept me sane this year, and that's a big step for an over functioning CEO with Bi-polar, but they really have. And it's these boundaries that I want to maintain for 2021.

So no, I don't have time to discuss exciting opportunities with total strangers who want to sell me tech and frameworks for 2021 so that I can smash my goals, I'm going to be kind to myself over the next week, stick to the plans I already have in place and then take a bloody good rest and enjoy the downtime with my family.

Whatever 2020 has put you through and however you'll be as we come out the other end, I want you to know that you are enough, you've done an amazing job in making it this far and things will get better.

There are still so many questions and unanswered questions and the festive period, but whatever you do, and whoever you're with, even if you're by yourself, I wish you a wonderful festive period. Make the most of every moment and I'll see you in the New Year as we explore together what's new, what's not and what needs to change so that we can continue to change the world of work together.

Kelly

Kelly is an Executive Coach for HR and People Leaders at kellyswingler.com and Founder of The Chrysalis Crew.

She leads and coaches with an open heart, an open mind and has the courage to challenge the status quo and do things differently so that we can all love our roles, find balance in our lives and so that we can all change the world of work for the better.

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©2020 by Kelly Swingler. Part of Chrysalis Group Limited.