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You Should Be Pickier

Being picky is not selfish. Practicing pickiness can be quite helpful…and smart.

There is a tendency to villainize the word “picky.” It’s often a term that carries a negative or frustrating connotation. Our children are picky eaters. She/he is too picky in their search for a partner. Things would move so much quicker if they weren’t so picky about our work. He/she would land a job way sooner if they weren’t so picky.

But the word “pick” is just reflecting the act of choosing. And the power of choice is pretty great. It carries an elevated level of personal empowerment which can lead to a healthy amount of natural boundary setting.

Here we are again, back to that word, boundaries. I like to talk about boundaries because they are crucial to your ability to be successful. Each step of the process – creating, setting, implementing, and sticking to boundaries – presents an opportunity to make a choice, or be picky.

Choice #1: What type of boundaries do you need?

Choice #2: What do those boundaries look like?

Choice #3: How will you put them into action?

Choice #4: When your boundaries are inevitably tested, what is your plan to stick to them?

If you are a three-year-old who does not like green beans it might look something like this:

I need to not eat those peas. I am not going to eat those peas. I am going to refuse to eat those peas. When my parents insist that I eat those peas, I am going to throw those peas on the floor so I don’t have to eat them.  Boom, success! Well, at least from the kid’s point of view.

Doesn’t get much clearer than that though. Oh, to be three again. But as crazy as it may sound, there is a great lesson there. That three-year-old is schooling our grown-up selves on how to be set in, confident of and action on our boundaries – or, plainly said, how to be picky.

But how can you be picky in a way that serves you best?

Let’s picture you now. You might be balancing the demands of a career, family and a million other things that are important to you. Time is a precious commodity for you. There never seems to be enough of it to go around and your to-do list resembles more of a wish list than future accomplishments.

Along comes the request for your time. It might even be disguised with a beautiful compliment! “Would you Chair XYZ committee this year? No one can do it like you, you are made for this! We can’t do it without you. Please!” 

Time to get picky. Here’s how.

True, you may be the best choice to run that committee. But how does running that committee align with your current life needs?

  • What other options are present? If you are the rock star they believe you are, then even donating a smaller portion of your time, or offering to make a different contribution, may still have a big impact. In general, it is good practice to not view decisions as all or nothing. Evaluate all the options, even those that may not be clear initially. Remember, we each look at things through our own lens. You may see other alternatives that others do not.
  • Is it filling a bucket for you? It might! But do not lose sight of your other buckets. Which ones need the most attention right now? Is this one of them and what sort of fulfillment will it bring to you? Your energy is not in limitless supply. Focus.
  • Where does this request for your time fall on your priority list? Be realistic. Be gentle with yourself and your ability to respond to all the demands in life. How do these demands align with your priorities or goals?

Being picky doesn’t have to carry such an awful connotation. Being picky doesn’t have to automatically insinuate that you are letting others down. Being picky doesn’t mean all or nothing.

Being picky with things that are sacred to you, such as your time, is smart.

Practicing pickiness can be an empowering way to help create, implement, and stick to boundaries that serve you and your needs! Now go throw some proverbial peas on the floor and enjoy your boundaries.