Terminating Your Tolerations

Four Steps for Minimizing Life’s Little (and Big!) Annoyances

Irritated. Annoyed. Frustrated. Do these words describe your daily life? If so, chances are you are putting up with a lot of tolerations – things that irk you regularly, but that consciously or unconsciously you have decided get to be a part of your life. Well, they don’t have to be! Follow these steps to reduce the amount of frustration you feel at life’s little (and big!) annoyances:

1. Make a list. Instead of feeling like you have lots of undefined things in your life that are driving you batty, start writing those daily tolerations down. Sit down for a few minutes with a notebook, and make a list of the tolerations in your life. Carry around the notebook with you for a few days and write down all those things that you regularly put up with – all the distractions, clutter, rude co-workers, the slow-draining sink – whatever is a bother to you, make a note of it. Write down not only what is bothering you, but why you feel bothered by it.

2. Evaluate and strategize. Once you’ve spent some time noticing and writing down your tolerations, it’s time to start looking at them in a proactive way. At their core, tolerations are problems waiting to be solved. The key to defeating your tolerations is to look beyond the problem, and focus on potential solutions. For instance, if you’ve grown tired of the clutter on your desk, one way of dealing with it is to get organized. The problem co-worker could be an opportunity for you to practice your communication and management skills, and so on. For each of your tolerations listed in your notebook, write down a few potential solutions.

3. Prioritize. Now that you’re solution-focused, start separating your tolerations by how easy they will be to solve. In your notebook, make one column for easy fixes (lubricating the squeaky door, taking the pile of clothes to the dry cleaner) and one column for more challenging or time-consuming ones (organizing your closet, letting go of that commitment that no longer makes sense in your life). Once you’ve done that, you can prioritize the order that you’ll attack the tolerations. The most stressful or frustrating items get top priority in each list, and the tolerations that are less annoying get lower priority.

4. Act and Eliminate. Now that you have your list of problems and solutions prioritized, it’s time to move into action. Grab your prioritized list and your calendar, and set aside time to actively work on reducing your tolerations. Begin by scheduling time to focus on getting rid of the tolerations that are at the top of your priority list –eliminating the big ones can create a tremendous sense of accomplishment. If you have just a few free minutes a day, start with the tolerations that are on your easy list. By doing so, you’ll have freed up some of your time, and soon you’ll be able to focus on your more challenging tasks.

Reducing your tolerations can be an incredibly satisfying endeavor. Moving from annoyance into action will leave you feeling empowered and in control. In time, the amount of things that you tolerate will be far fewer, because you won’t let them enter your life in the first place.

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