When I took life and business coaching classes in 2007-2008, one of the first exercises they shared was a toleration list. It helped me so much, I used it with all my early clients, and I still find it helpful which is why I recommend it to my friends, like you.
Recently, I bought a new car. I had been tolerating the one I had for four years. Even though someone I thought was a friend owned the place, that car was a horrible experience from the beginning when the salesperson kept me at the dealership for five hours to complete the process of buying a very basic SUV…nothing digital. I learned later it wasn’t even the exact one I had picked off the lot! When they wear you down like they did, it’s easy to just say yes to everything, including a horrible financial agreement, which is what I did. It ended up costing the same as a top-of-the-line car, which it wasn’t. The most aggravating part of owning that car was that every time I was talking to someone on the phone, they would ask, obviously annoyed, “What is that rattling?” A friend drove with me one day and discovered the noise was coming from the console and it was amplified over the phone. That was it. Why was I tolerating this? I have kind, thoughtful friends who own a car dealership here, and I knew they would do whatever they could to help me. Once I had declared, “I’m not tolerating this any longer,” I made an appointment with them and within 90 minutes I was driving away in a beautiful—and quiet—luxury car that made me feel safe and comfortable. I made money on the deal! Why, why, why did I tolerate that so long?
That led me to the decision to take an inventory of everything else I might be tolerating, as I had learned in my coaching classes. I use paper and pen because it works better for me to free write with exercises like the Toleration List, but you can use your computer or record into your voice memo—whatever works for you.
The great news about these lists is you don’t have to do anything about them; merely getting them out of your head and onto paper will work miracles in your life! I stopped tolerating my car when I was ready and in the position to do so, but I started feeling better as soon as I made the decision I would change it, even before taking action. Write out your list without any pressure to do anything about it. Action will follow naturally at the right time.
Don’t worry, the tolerations aren’t always as major as a new car, and often they don’t cost a penny. Here are some other examples of my recent tolerations:
An old throw rug in my bedroom (I got rid of it even before I was ready to replace it and realized I didn’t want another one)
My teeth that I had ignored completely for a decade (I got major work done during the summer and am thrilled)
A crammed pantry (cleaned it out in 10 minutes after being annoyed every time I opened it for 6 months)
Towels I never used (gave them away)
Feeling stressed by old letters, articles I’ve kept (began a sorting and tossing project)
Having friends (are they?) who owe me money and keep lying about paying me back (cut one out of my life totally because of the situation being so extreme; set a boundary with the other)
Feeling I could serve more (I added several programs to my coaching business and increased my advocacy in helping trafficking victims and advocates improve their public speaking skills)
Feeling uncomfortable with my body (small, inconsistent changes…a work in progress)
Ugly front door with chipped paint (still tolerating)
Broken slate tiles on front porch and back patio (still tolerating)
The first time I did this, there were almost a hundred items I named. How about you? What are you tolerating? Grab a pen, a crayon, your laptop, your phone, or a recorder and make your list. Let’s see if, like me, you find some peace in being intolerant of tolerations!
President, The Zen Speaker
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