Whose monkey are you feeding was the topic of a fascinating talk given by Megan Williams, award winning author of “Don’t Call the Office” and “Our Interrupted Fairy Tale”. At 32 she has some ways to go to break into the At Forty Five club, but she is way ahead of us in the “what I now know” department. Her sharing resonated with me. I know you will appreciate the wisdom too.
Have you ever started your day raring to attack your “To Do” list and just get it all done? Then, found yourself at the end of your day a train wreck with little or nothing accomplished and a bigger list than when you started?
Yes, me too. Then Megan pointedly asked, “Whose monkey are you feeding?”
Consider the following scenario, which is a paraphrased version of her talk. You are up at the crack of dawn doing what you love, running with your best friend. “Are you running Friday?” “Hmmm,” you reply, “I am not sure, let me check my calendar and I will get back to you.” That was monkey number 1, a new thing to add to your list of things to do.
You shower and get breakfast on the table. Your hubby asks can you pick up the dry cleaning on your way home, he’s going to be running late. “Sure sweetie, I can do that.” That was monkey number 2.
Half an hour later, you’re driving to work and chatting with your mother (yes, on speaker phone). She mentions she’s having the bridge club over and would like to make your chocolate, chocolate chip banana muffins. Can you email the recipe? “Sure, no problem mom, I have it saved on my desktop. I’ll do it when I get into the work.” Monkey number 3 now.
You walk into the office and your lunch group lead reminds you that you are to pick this week’s lunch spot. “Yes, I will send everyone an invite when I get settled this morning.” Monkey number 4 that is.
On the way to your office, the sales manager asks you to review a proposal because you have such an eye for details. “Of course, later today. Come by after lunch?” After all, I am good you think to yourself. Um, that’s monkey number 5.
And then beep, it’s an incoming text, the Arts Society wants you to chair their next gala! What an honor. I for sure want to do that you think as you tap out a quick response, sliding into your office chair. Uh, that is monkey number 6 and you haven’t even started the work day or got to your list. Pause for thought isn’t it? Megan’s next point cuts to the chase. Monkeys don’t care who feeds them, they just want to be fed.
Setting Boundaries Takes Practice & Maybe A Script
Women are programmed to be helpers, it is in our DNA. Here is the catch though. Helping others should not be at the expense of helping ourselves. We need to work smarter. We need to set boundaries for ourselves.
No one is going to respect our boundaries if we don’t. So Megan recommends assessing which monkeys are meaningful to you and your goals. For example, running is what you love, so that monkey you want to feed. The gala might thrill you, so feed that monkey. All the rest? Toss those monkeys right back. Graciously of course. You may have to write a little script and practice it until the words roll off your tongue. I wish I could, but… I am tired, my schedule is full, I don’t enjoy it or even I don’t want to.
Note that I’m sorry is not included in the script. That’s my contribution to Megan’s sharing. At any age, but especially after forty five, you just do not need to apologize for not feeding someone else’s monkey. Freeing isn’t it?
I highly recommend catching Megan in person if you have the opportunity. She is a wonderful story teller. You can read more about Megan here. Her book Our Interrupted Fairy Tale is next on my reading list. It is a self published labor of love and you will want to pick it up quick. Rumor has it there could be a movie soon.
Thank you to Ladies Who Lunch Network (LWL) for bringing Megan and other fascinating women together to share their stories.