Warning. This is a true story and it ain’t a pretty one. It’s actually a bit embarrassing too because, as a teacher and trainer, I should “know” better not to get stuck unconscious behavior. By sharing this personal examples I hope to illuminate for you more clearly how tolerating those little distractions, clutter and incomplete “to dos” can siphon away your energy and hold you back.

Recently I took care of an annoying little problem that had been bugging me for a very, very long time. The wall sconces in my main bathroom had been on the fritz for a long time. The lights continued to flicker and go out. High-priced electricians were baffled. I ultimately decided the fixtures themselves needed to be replaced. So I bought new fixtures and … stuck them in a storage room. I finally got those new fixtures installed after they collected dust for about 18 months.

Sad but true! I had been tolerating having dim, unsatisfactory lighting in my bathroom for about 118 weeks. Not being able to see clearly when putting on my makeup in the morning. Feeling my energy drop when I entered the room and saw the 4 colorful wires sticking out of my mirror. Explaining to my kids that I …just hadn’t got around to getting someone in to install the new fixtures. The irony of wanting to be a light and inspiration in the world, but I was dragging my heels on bringing full light into my own space. Fascinating all the lessons that can be revealed from these vignettes of everyday life!

Here are a few lessons I learned from the “Bathroom Fixture Fiasco” that I’d like to share with you so that you can identify and kick any tolerations you are living with!

Lesson #1 – Watch Out for the Pebbles

Putting up with issues, relationships and situations that do not serve you tends to fall into two categories: boulders and pebbles. The boulders are the ones that are so obvious that even you know you need to address them somehow. Examples might be abusive relationships or a soul-sucking career. Boulders demand your energy big-time!

Pebbles are the smaller, seemingly innocuous issues that don’t look like much. They aren’t as obvious that they require your attention. Working with people who don’t always do what they say, dealing with the pile of papers on your desk, or… repairing a light fixture in your bathroom. Don’t fool yourself!

Pebbles are quietly, and consistently, draining away your energy and focus and the cost can be huge. Plus, you spend time creating reasons or excuses as to why it’s OK to put up with them. “I’ll get to that filing tomorrow, it’s not a big deal!” or “I’ll just avoid them so I don’t have to tell them I’m not happy with their work.” So pebble-sized tolerations can add up to major time and energy leaks.

Think about the mountain climber. It’s often easier to climb up or down the big boulders than it is to safely traverse slopes of pebbles and scree.

Lesson #2 – Tolerations Reveal Subconscious Truths

There are true gems of wisdom when you uncover and handle the areas you’ve been putting up with that zap your focus. My light fixture escapade revealed there was a deeply unconscious part of me that was just fine with me NOT being in my light. “Hey”, it thought, “You’re safer when you're a bit harder to see because then you’re not as visible a target for criticism.” There was a part that actually liked a bit of inconvenience or suffering because I could keep myself in a “poor me” mentality.

Think of something you know you’re ignoring and tolerating. What are the thoughts you use to keep it in place? Can you see where those same thoughts show up everywhere else in your life?

Lesson #3 – Figure Out Your ROI

When you discover a toleration and need motivation to kick yourself into action, just consider your return on investment. How long have you been trying not to notice that your taxes aren’t filed, or that your basement storage room is so full of clutter that it scares you?

I ran a quick calculation of the cost of my light fixture fiasco. If I assumed I lost at least 5 minutes a day because I was allowed my energy to be drained by this situation, this experiment in denial and procrastination cost me a walloping 225 hours! The cost of solving the problem? Just 5 minutes to make a call, 20 minutes to supervise when needed and $50.

Putting up with tolerations is never a good investment, particularly if you look at it on a return on investment. Your time, energy and talents are far too precious to waste. So let these lessons from my bathroom light fixtures serve as a cautionary tale for you!

Author's Bio: 

As an internationally acclaimed business coach, author and media personality, Carolyn Ellis has helped thousands of women reclaim their financial future and radically transform their lives.

Through her company, Brilliance Mastery, Carolyn has the privilege of helping brilliant women and conscious entrepreneurs reconstruct and realign their businesses in order to present their great work more clearly, powerfully and profitably to the world.

You may recognize her easy-to-understand and holistic advice from regular appearances in The Globe and Mail, MacLean’s Magazine, Divorce Magazine, CITY-TV, CBC radio and TV, as she passionately works to bring forth strategies of personal, business and financial mastery to women all across the globe.

However, Carolyn strongly believes that having a six figure-plus business is no fun if you’re maxed out on time—which is why she also helps her clients build their brilliant empires with work-life balance and real freedom in mind.

When she’s not working in the trenches with creatives and entrepreneurs, Carolyn is equally passionate about helping separated and divorced individuals who are struggling to find clarity and learn how to thrive after divorce.

She has created a number of award-winning educational resources for divorced women, including the Divorce Resource Kit, THRIVE Principles ™, Parenting after Divorce 101 and Thrive After Divorce, all of which have a proven track record of helping women turn adversity into opportunity and pave the way for a life of passion, vitality and success.

Carolyn is the award-winning author of The 7 Pitfalls of Single Parenting: What to Avoid to Help Your Children Thrive after Divorce, and the popular “Bits of Brilliance” and THRIVE Guide e-newsletters, which are enjoyed by thousands of subscribers from across the globe.

In addition to her experienced gained in the school of life, she is also a Certified Money, Marketing and Soul Coach ™ and a Money Breakthrough Method ™ Coach. She has trained with some of the world’s greatest transformational and marketing leaders, and has in fact been engaged by many of them to assist their personal clients with their business and coaching needs.

Finally, to give some credit to her left-brain, Carolyn also has a graduate degree from Harvard University, and is a Master Integrative Coach and Advanced PSYCH-K Facilitator. She has worked on Wall Street, served as a senior policy advisor in government and was the Director of Development for two of the top independent schools in Canada.

When she’s not creating something or transforming a business, Carolyn enjoys spiritual journeys, hot yoga and works really hard to stay on the wagon as a reformed “trekkie.” She lives in Toronto, ON with her 3 children and a very fluffy labradoodle.