Knowing Your Limits can physically change your life. When you can finally say "no" and not feel obligated, then you have more time and flexibility. That's physical, but not only physical, emotional too. Knowing Your Limits frees you emotionally. On the surface it seems like you would lose friends because you know your limits. It's true you might lose a few friends, but I'd wager it's a few friends you probably needed to lose. The ones that matter will start telling you how much you have grown. Know your limits, know yourself.
From an early age, I knew I could never work on an assembly line. Doing the same thing over and over makes my skin crawl. Variety is just one of the many reasons I love my job at Red Griffin Creative. I am a graphic designer by trade, but my job allows me a great amount of diversity. One day I might be doing graphic design, the next I might be creating a 3-D model in Sketch Up, then on another day I might be helping with a photo shoot, or doing project management.
A couple of weeks ago, our team put together a 1950’s photo shoot for one of our clients. Photo shoots are one of my favorite things we do. Yes, it’s a lot of work, but a lot of fun, too! On this particular day, our web designer Blake and I were hanging paintings on the wall with command strips. While we worked, we were discussing one of my favorite subjects—my journaling blog My Ink Trail! My passion to help people through My Ink Trail causes me to get very excited about anything I can do to make it better. Blake was telling me about a new hosting plan that would make my website faster. My excitement level shot through the roof, until I heard the price. When Blake saw my frustration, he suggested I put it on a credit card. Immediately I informed him I do not use credit cards. Been there, done that, not a good experience! Under his breath he mumbled something about know your limits, and then exclaimed, “blog post!” We both laughed.
WHAT ARE LIMITS?
Immediately I think of my checkbook. In my checking account I only have so much money to spend. That’s a limit. What about exercise? We all have a limit to our abilities in exercise. Some people do cross-fit, while others just walk every day. What about work? With work we have a limit to our knowledge, our skill set, and our abilities. Family is a place you might not believe has limits, but it does. Maybe you can’t do what someone in your family wants you to do at the moment they want you to do it, that’s a limit. The same applies to friends. At times limits even overlap, maybe your child needs money, but because you have financial limits, you cannot help. Limits are everywhere.
SHOULD YOU STOP AT YOUR LIMIT OR PUSH PAST?
Our society today loves fast. We all want to be the “Flash.” How cool would it be to be able to move that fast? I can’t lie, it’s intriguing. Have you noticed that in the show Barry is constantly trying to push his limits? Even as fast as he is, he needs to be faster. Most of us would be beyond thrilled with his slowest speed, but for him it’s not good enough. Usually when he tries to push past his limits, disaster is the outcome. How often in life are we the same way?
In my mind the first problem is that we love “fast” too much, causing us not to recognize our limits. I think the first step is to figure out what our limits are… What is my monthly budget? What can I spend? What is my current exercise limit, and at what point am I going too far? Am I doing things I really have no training to do in my job? Should I ask for more training? Should I try and delegate this piece of my job to someone else? Should I be practicing tough love with my family and friends? Should I say “no” instead of “yes?” If you know your limit, then you can explore whether to push past or not, but the first step is knowing your limit.
PUSHING YOUR LIMITS
Pushing your limits should always be a conscious choice. I believe often it is not. According to the Credit Donkey website: “Over 38% of Americans have credit card debt, with an average of $5,331 per person.” I’m not judging people for having credit cards, believe me I’m not. I’ve been there. I’m just saying the majority of these people in this statistic probably never even thought about their paycheck being a limit. I think all of us would agree it’s better to stay out of debt, but if you can’t, for whatever reason, it should be a conscious choice. All too often we just breeze past our limits then wonder what happened.
A word that comes to mind when I think about pushing past limits is obligation. Do you fear your boss? Do you fear losing your job? Do you fear not doing what other people ask of you? Fear is a great motivator of obligation. Do you fear losing the love of family or friends if you say “no?” I wonder how many people are doing a job they hate? I wonder how many people are tip-toeing through the tulips with their friends and family? Obligation can be very powerful. Whether or not you can give your child their next meal is a powerful obligation. Without a doubt at times obligation is the only choice. My advice in that situation would be to try and make it as temporary as possible. Always, always, always, if you have to chose obligation, make sure it’s a conscious choice. Obligation causes stress, and sometimes a lot of it. In my last blog, “Stop the Mental Static,” I used a powerful quote about stress and sickness. As much as possible, kicking stress out of your live is essential.
Did you know pushing past your limits can also be positive?
STEPPING OUTSIDE YOUR COMFORT ZONE
Stepping outside your comfort zone can be exciting, exhilarating, and beneficial. With obligation, you are laser-focused on what “has to be done by you.” Just like a train, you are on a track with your destination set. You feel dread. You are unhappy. You are motivated by fear and duty. Unlike the feeling of obligation, when you are stepping outside your comfort zone, you are moving towards a vision— something that is going to help make your dreams come true. When you have a vision, you feel determination and purpose. Life is more meaningful. You wake up excited, and you work harder than you knew possible. Yes, you may feel a little anticipation, even fear of failure, but it’s a good anticipation. Anticipation that stretches you.
How do you get a vision? Personally, I believe God has a plan for all of us. I believe in our heart we know the direction we need to be heading. If you don’t, find some time for complete quiet and stillness. Ask God to show you His vision for you. You will be surprised what you hear. I recommend having a journal close at hand.
Close your eyes. Pretend you are walking down a path, but fog is all around. You know without a doubt you are headed in the right direction, but don’t have a clue where you are going. The further you walk, the more the fog clears, allowing you to see what’s up ahead. Following God’s plan is very much like that, He doesn’t give us the whole picture because it would probably scare us to death. Instead He tells us the direction we need to head, and the further we go the more He reveals to us.
Without a doubt I have been in situations where I felt obligated to do something. I still struggle with obligation. I don’t think there is, or will ever be, anyone completely free of obligation. Whether you are dealing with obligation or whether you are choosing to step outside your comfort zone, the most important thing—be on purpose! Take the time to learn your limits! Make the decision for yourself. Ask yourself: Do I want to stay within my limits, or do I want to push past them? Take the time to discover the real you! You’ll be amazed at the treasure you find inside!