Putting Boundaries Around Our Steps (part 3)...the Fixer

As we discuss the third warning sign that we may need to put some boundaries in place, let's remember that boundaries are not put in place to limit our success but to direct it and make it forward moving / purposeful! 

The first post in this series addressed the need to know when our yes to one good thing is really a no to the better thing.  Proper boundaries give us the direction we need to say yes to what God has planned for us instead of being distracted by the shiny objects that can distract us from that plan.

The second in our series discussed the need to use expectations to form boundaries that keep us from jumping onto the paths of others, helping them achieve success but abandoning our personal path to success.  

Warning sign #3 ~
You might need a boundary if...
you believe you are responsible for the problems / issues of people in your life or that it is your responsibility to resolve the outcomes for their bad choices.  

Ah, the boundary-less life of a fixer!  You might be a 'fixer' if:

  • When others come to you with their problems, you immediately begin giving advice on how to fix them, even if they didn't ask.  
  • You seem to be the 'go to' person for everyone in your life when they have a problem and want it fixed.  
  • You are burned out by all of the issues of running a business and are ready to throw in the towel because it's just to hard and you're not getting ahead.  (for those with families, the words 'running a business' could also be replace with 'being a mother / wife')
Being a 'fixer' isn't limited to our business lives.  As a fixer, we typically see our tendencies to take on the problems of others in every aspect of our lives, including family and friends.  

This inclination comes from a place of good intention.  
We desire to help others.  
We are very capable people and want to make life easier for others 
with a goal to see them be successful.  

Eventually, a fixer comes to a place of total burn out.  

As a 'fixer' myself, I'll share with you some boundaries that I learned to put in place that helped me.  And yes...I found these boundaries only after I crashed and burned after years of living without boundaries!
  • Stop. If you are a fixer, chances are that you have trained those in your life that they can come to you to for 'fixing' so they don't have to do all of the hard work themselves.  The first boundary needed is learning how to stop yourself from doing what comes naturally.  As people come to you, before you offer advice, help or solutions, ask yourself this question:  "Did I cause this problem or is this issue a result of this other person's lack of action or a consequence of a bad choice they made in the past?"  The only answer that warrants you taking action on their behalf is 'yes...I caused this problem.'.  
    • If your answer is anything other than 'my fault'....continue with the following boundary building! 
  • Ask.  Develop a series of questions you can begin asking the person that has come to you that will help guide them to taking ownership of fixing their problem.  Here are some suggestions to get you started:
    • What do you think is the cause of this problem? ~Keep asking this question until they own the problem.  As long as a person sees themselves as a victim in their problem, they will not be able to stop expecting others to fix it for them.  Even a problem that is a result of someone else doing them wrong,. ownership can be achieved by identifying boundaries that are needed to keep this from being repeated in their lives /businesses and then taking personal steps towards starting fresh.  
      • some typical causes you might guide them identify: 
        • a lack of effort 
        • a fear of trying new things
        • an unwillingness to step outside of a comfort zone
        • a need for training
        • a need for action based on training already received
        • a need for a focused goal 
        • a need for boundaries!
        • time management issues
        • and so many others that we can explore another time!
    • Where do you think you might find some answers or ideas to fix this problem? ~ We live in the age of answers.  There is hardly an answer or solution needed that isn't a 'click' away from our computer key board.  If you are building a business that is connected to an established brand (vs a personal start up business), you will most likely find lots of solutions / ideas on their business supporting website.  And don't forget training events, conferences, seminars, self help books...the list is extensive.  It's o.k. for you to nudge them towards the right answer, suggesting some starting places if they seem challenged to know where to start.  It is NOT o.k. to give them a synopsis of what they will find if they were to read it themselves.  A fixer reads it for them and feeds them like a mother bird feeds her chicks.
      • One exception is when you offer a training event.  However, even this requires action on the part of the one needing a 'fix'.  If you plan to do a training event, expect (set the boundary) those that need help to come and get the help and not ask you to bring it to them.  
    • When are you available for to us to reconnect after you check out some of these ideas for solutions so we can brainstorm an action plan together? ~ Practice this one over and over.  As a fixer, we want to make that list for them!  Our goal is to learn how to encourage them to make their own action plan so they can take ownership of putting it into action.  By setting a time to reconnect, you give them a sense of urgency to take action and set a boundary in place for you to not jump paths and start making an action plan for them.  That said...when you reconnect, you will find great satisfaction in brainstorming ideas with them instead of spoon feeding them the ideas.  
With an action plan in place, set times to follow up, evaluate progress and repeat the steps above as needed.    And most of all...celebrate / reward accomplishments as they occur!  Being a cheerleader and celebrator is much more energizing than being a fixer!  

As you begin to put this boundary in place and into action, you will find your roll as a leader or business builder has new energy and those you are letting 'fix themselves' will become stronger and more prepared for personal success.  It's like exercise.  No one gets stronger and healthier watching others run the treadmill for them.  

A visual I have used in the past is of two treadmills.  
Me on one and the one needing something fixed on the other.  
The one in need looks over and says 'I have this problem'
...and then hits the start button on my treadmill and watches me work up a sweat. 
When the problem is solved, they thank me enthusiastically and walk away, 
leaving me an exhausted mess but still in the same place I was when I started.  
Lots of activity but no forward movement! 

And speaking as a wife and mother of 4, my tendencies to 'fix' things haven't been limited to my business life.  As I learned to put this boundary concept into play in my family life, I began to enjoy my rolls of wife and mother much more.  I found great joy in watching my children become stronger and less dependent, and my relationship with my husband become more joyful and less combative.  The questions are different, but the concept is the same.  Stop jumping in to fix it and Ask them what they think needs to be done.  

Next time we'll conclude our series on boundaries with a closer look at WHY boundaries are NOT a limitation to success but a catalyst.  

Let’s Get There One Step at a Time,
Copyright© 2012 Just One Step at a Time

I'd love to hear what you think!  Are you a fixer like me?  Or...are you one that is drawn to fixers?  What thoughts do you have about boundaries in life as well as business?  

We'd love to be encouraged, so leave a comment, with or without your name!  

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