Guidelines can form a limiting box or a launching point. You probably know someone who uses recipes as loose guidelines and makes delicious food. You probably know someone else who carefully weighs, measures, and strictly adheres to recipes who also makes delicious food.
The way each of us responds to recommendations or guidelines is the result of many factors. It’s easy to just respond and move on without thinking about it, but we may unnecessarily limit ourselves in the process – some by not setting limits and some by not venturing outside limits.
You may already know the camp in which you fit. If not, examine statements A & B below. Which statement feels right to you? Both can be true, but notice the one that feels most natural and comfortable. That will tell you the kind of environment you need to support you so that all guidelines become launching points.
A)Following a recipe means you never have to worry about over-salting.
B)Following a recipe means you have an idea how much salt to start with.
I will always choose B.
I view recipes as a starting point. I know that if I follow one precisely, the result will be good. But I love feeling free to add a dash of cinnamon or substitute honey for sugar. Endless possibilities energize and excite me.
And seeing the possibilities outweighs any worry that my dish may not taste as good as it would if I followed instructions. In fact, I never think about the risk of bad food. In the moment, I feel confident I will make it better.
Sometimes that doesn’t hold true, but that never discourages me from experimenting because that’s where the joy is for me – in the process. If the result is good, bonus! This doesn’t just apply in the kitchen. It guides my life.
For other people, experimenting may feel reckless or stressful. When that’s the case, it is important to create or choose a more structured environment that allows for growth and expansion within comfortable bounds.
Knowing the environment that best supports you will save time and heartache. It can inform your choice of career, housing, romantic partner, and family culture so you can live your dreams.
We all get to design our lives. The better we know ourselves, the more successful we will be in creating a supportive plan that launches us to points beyond what we imagine possible.
Along the way, there will be plenty of people who deliberately throw up roadblocks. Some will be well-intentioned. Others will not. To prevent any deleterious effect, make sure your life plan includes activities and environments in which you feel your presence and contributions are valued. Leaning into activities that make you feel valued, creates a well of positive feelings and energy on which to draw when negativity weighs heavy.
Few of us may surpass our potential, but all of us can approach guidelines in a way that makes them a launching point for creating the life we desire. Let’s kick those limiting boxes to the curb and live our dreams!