Test Your Limits
A life fully lived—a flourishing, impressive, skipper kind of life—is expansive in experiences, abundant in anecdotes, and proliferate with possibility. And that’s just the alliterate stuff. Getting to that kind of life while still dealing with heavy responsibility can seem impossible, but that’s just a misinterpretation. What you’ve got to do is look at the map of your life (yes, this is metaphorical) and make sure the boundaries you live in are as expansive as they could be. In other words, you have to test your limits.
Testing limits isn’t a question of “How far can I go?” although that’s part of it; rather, it’s a personal interrogation about what your ideal limits should be. To understand this difference, think of the first option as the libertine, less responsible choice and the second as a reasoned approach that leads to deeper, albeit potentially less numerous, pleasures.
A farmer in Montana could possibly farm across the Canadian border without getting caught and have a slightly larger crop, but they’d be doing it knowing that this pleasure could ruin them. One who stays within the appropriate limits can produce good crops and, possibly, invest in more land with the proceeds. This is the better option.
Consider the limits of dialogue in your life. Do you and your wife have topics that are off-limits? Are there things you find yourself discussing although you don’t understand them totally? Are there topics that you don’t discuss because you aren’t interested?
Interestingly, one of the best ways to avoid running into your limits is to learn. Study up on the topics your loved ones are interested in, and you’ll be better prepared to discuss them. Discover why you don’t talk about certain topics—and in the process, you’ll learn something about one another. Some limits you may want to keep (such as not talking about needles if that’s a fear of hers); some you may want to expand on (such as learning more about her passions that you don’t understand).
As Skipper Reneau has noted, time management is really serious for men with major responsibilities. Your time simply isn’t yours anymore. You have limits, and you can’t just hang out with the boys or stay late at work on a whim. Some time limits are simply conflicts of your different responsibilities—you have to mow the lawn or else your neighbors will start complaining, but you also have to cook dinner for the family. It’s hard.
Thinking about time limits may not feel as rewarding as word limits. With word limits, you learn things about another person and about yourself. Testing time limits instead gives you a practical change. You work together with someone else to find time you didn’t know you had. You determine priorities that are not just yours but are also those of the people you care about. And you find a way to act on them, which leads us to…
There are things that you just don’t do anymore because of your relationships. You may not sing in the shower because your wife hates your voice. You may shave more often to have a smooth cheek for smoother canoodling. You may abstain from vices or hold a purse at the mall. You just have to change, and to do it well, you have to see what that change can look like.
Changing activity limits simply means trying new activities and—in some cases—trying to do life without old ones. It’s a try-as-you-go deal. You can talk about which changes would be helpful, and maybe that will help, but few people are ascetically-minded enough to just change an action because they were told they should.
Up The Limit
When you can change a limit, you gain new powers. You rethink your mission. You become just a little more adult.
And you find that these changes push you closer to your goals.
What are some limits you’ve tested?