the only way outToday I’m writing about the raw, ugly, difficult part of having clarity and setting boundaries in life and business.

Clarity and boundaries are like the Voldemort of life: something we all need but don’t want to talk about.

Folks out there love to tell you how great and lovely and freeing it is to find your clarity and define your boundaries.  I’m one of them.  And don’t get me wrong, it’s hella liberating and confidence-building once they are there and people know them.

The thing is, you have to actually do the work to build your castle of clarity and boundaries.  Ya know, find the right site, design it, find and oversee the builders, decorate, etc. before you can put out a welcome mat.  Before the welcome mat comes product acceptance, fancy business words for ‘you have to test it out and see if people get your point/product’.

Most people want to skip right to the welcome mat.  They do that, and what ends up happening is they keep flopping about with their “decisions”, “goals”, “callings”, “purpose” and their “passions”.   We all know those people – the ones who have a new project every week.

(Rant alert: Forgive me for using the P-word of passion here. I believe passion is the reason behind one night stands and getting tattoos while drunk, not your purpose in life. If I had my way, we’d all forget the term for a bit and stop being so focused on finding and following our passions.  But I digress..)

Anywho, back to your castle of clarity and boundaries…to get to the end state, you have to actually spend time and energy on all of the designing and building and decorating.  In life this is the messy middle that life coaches, advisors, parents, mentors, etc. don’t often want to tell you.  (Or they do, and that’s why you hire them, because you need help to get through it.  Smart move.)

The raw truth: this middle is ugly, it’s dirty, it hurts, and it tests your courage and resilience and your assumptions over and over and over. Chances are high you’ll lose friends and family.

There is no sugar coating this part.  The only way out is through.  If you have done and continue to do the inner work to constantly revisit and define your truth, your clarity will sharpen and your boundaries will become stronger.  Then every time you’re tested you’ll find it easier to say no or, as any good resilience coach would tell you, you become more like rubber and things bounce off.  I’m not going to say you don’t feel them, but they do bounce off with less impact.

I’m right there with you.  I feel like a lot of my life is the messy middle.  Moving countries as many times as I have hasn’t been easy.  I’m currently in Uganda and struggling in the middle.  Some things look glorious (the weather is phenomenal!) while others are kicking my a**.  I’m gratefully quite busy managing and building 4 businesses, writing a book and teaching yoga BUT the busy comes with some serious inner work.

My solution: Double down on my trifecta of success: self-care, self-compassion and self-love.  Spend more time in solitude with blank paper, watercolors, colored pencils and my favorite DVDs.  Plan longer to move faster.

My boundaries are being tested like nobody’s business.  And ironically I’m finding that in the stillness and solitude I seek after these tests, my clarity is becoming much more crisp.

There is no ‘5 things to do when ___’ or list of prompts this week.  This is just me writing a little love note to you.  Voldemort is real.  (Here it’s boundaries and clarity, remember?)  Honor what he teaches.  Apply what you can.  The middle might be messy, but it’s mandatory and worth it.

With Grit and Grace,

Ann