Laurie Swanson Blog

Fence me in...Please!

playgroundOne of my favorite stories I ever heard was from back in the day when I was doing a lot of personal growth work. The leader of the group I was involved with, Judith Wright, told a story of a study she had read about where the researchers had young kids placed at a playground in the middle of a wide open grassy space and they observed the kids. The kids happily played on the playground equipment-no surprise.

Then they put up a fence around the playground plus quite a bit of the grassy area surrounding the equipment. The kids continued to play on the equipment but they also would venture out into the grassy area to play as well, something they had not done before. Once they had a boundary put up they were more willing to expand their play area.

This always stuck with me. #HavingBoundariesAndStructureMeansMoreFreedom. Retweet.

Huh. For most of my life I have resisted structure. I like to be able to do what I want to do when I want to do it. This has been beneficial in some ways (starting my own business) but it has also hurt me (eating willy-nilly because Fannie May tastes so good). So, where could I put up some boundaries and test out this idea that having structure could mean more freedom, not less?


piggy bankI decided to start with money. This was an area that I definitely wanted more freedom. The first step was to set up an appointment with my awesome financial planner at Kirkby, Phelan and Associates to look at where my money goes and get a plan together so I can one day retire the way I want to retire, have a home somewhere warm and travel the world on a whim. Freedom!

First, she had me gather a lot of documents (life insurance, bills, investment funds, etc.). Not what I would call fun but I was going to keep the end game in mind.


Then, Oh sh*t! I have to what? Track my spending for 6 weeks? Resistance was kicking in big time. This was no longer feeling like fun or freedom.

Then I remembered I am a life coach. How would I coach someone who was having these same feelings?

turtleI would start with the Martha Beck Turtle Steps tool. I would break my goal into smaller, more manageable steps. I would keep breaking down a step until it no longer felt like prison.

What were my options?

Option #1: I could carry a notebook with me wherever I went writing down everything I spent. I had a friend who did this and she swore by it. hair pullI felt my blood pressure rising.

Option #2 I could use my credit card for as much of my spending as I could for the next 6 weeks with the commitment to pay off the whole thing as soon as the 6 weeks were up. I would only need to write down what I could not charge, which would be a minimal amount.

I chose Option #2. This seemed way more doable to me and I did not get the feeling of being imprisoned in a box with chains around my limbs.

Fast forward 2 weeks. I have been tracking my spending since January 19th. It actually feels good. Once we get the spending figured out then I will be setting up a budget (EEK-turtle stepping that for sure) and setting up my fence around my playground. Within my fence I plan to have plenty of space to expand and explore, especially knowing that I am living within my means and setting up an even better playground for my future. Now that feels like freedom!

Build Your Own Playgroundfence build

Here is your challenge. Answer the following questions.

  1. What is one area of your life you think could use some improving?
  2. What sort of structure could you put in place that would support these improvements?
  3. What do you need to do or who do you need to call in order to put the structure in place?

Remember, you are not alone. If you find you are running into some resistance then

CALL ME-630/260-7821. Let's set a time to talk and turtle step you to your playground of freedom.

By reading my coaching services blog, you acknowledge that I am not a licensed psychologist or health care professional and my services do not replace the care of psychologists or other healthcare professionals. Coaching is in no way to be construed or substituted as psychological counseling or any other type of therapy or medical advice. I will at all times exercise my best professional efforts, skills and care. However, I cannot guarantee the outcome of coaching efforts and/or recommendations in my newsletter and my comments about the outcome are expressions of opinion only. I cannot make any guarantees other than to deliver the coaching services purchased as described.

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