Time and Tolerations – how to have less of one and more of the other

While it‘s not always obvious to others, we humans tolerate a lot!

We ‘take on’ and ‘put up with’ our own and others’ unmet needs, crossed boundaries, unfinished business, problems and frustrations. Tolerating these behaviours and the mindsets that feed them saps your energy and drains your resources.

If like around 92% of New Year resolution makers, you’re watching your best intentions fade to black as February nears, here’s what I suggest.

To paraphrase Winston Churchill, a powerful doer, make 2017 the year you blitz the things that ‘up with which you will no longer put’.

Instead of giving yourself a load of extra ‘to dos’, plan to spend less energy on tolerations. These are things that draw you into the fabled ‘vortex of time suckage.’ Plan on gifting yourself more time and clearer energy for doing what you love and what really matters.


Start by listing the time sucking distractions that you sense you’re tolerating every day. These are the activities, relationships and ‘stuff’’ that leave you feeling drained or disconnected, flustered or frustrated. Is it a broken cupboard door, shoes that need reheeling, a friend who calls for hour long debriefs about daily life, the clutter in your spare room.

Odds on you’re tolerating more than you think.  Add new things to your list as they come to mind. Some of the 200+ bugbears listed here might be worthy editions. 

My list includes some pretty universal items like constant email checking and excessive social media trawling, a persistent post renovation mess, a cupboard stuffed with unworn shoes and a pair of trousers in need of a needle and thread. These are practical, quantifiable things that I can address fairly easily.

A less tangible but perhaps more pressing toleration on my list is ‘being content to do things a bit less perfectly‘. This is a challenge for my driven, hyper organised ISFJ self who likes everything to be ‘just so’. However I know that obsessing about the degree to which reality matches my vision splendid is often a fruitless, worrisome waste of brain space and working hours. Addressing this large, loosely defined item is going to be far trickier than turning off my email notifications! 

Sit on your list

Odds on your list like mine, is a heady mix of straightforward concrete activities and complex behaviours that go to the heart of who you are.

Do you have to act straight away to make deliberate changes? I don’t think so. 

Simply articulating these things gives them fleeting mental and spiritual centre stage. This subtle, timely act of recognition is often all it takes for you to naturally start handling or eliminating your tolerations.

However, when you are ready to move, here are five toleration blitzing strategies worth trying. 

The ‘Dees’ have it

Sort your list so you can assign one or more of these strategies to each item.

Discuss it

To begin with, discuss your list with someone who ’gets’ what you’re doing here. If this person has their own tolerations list, you might agree to trade cheers, prompts and accountability.

Or the discussing might be with someone the thing also effects like your partner, housemate or kids..

Date it

Decide what you can do right now, what needs to be due dated or even deferred until you’ve had the time to divide it into manageable chunks.


Make some immediate changes. If you are tolerating too much clutter, clean your desk or donate clothes you never wear to charity.

If procrastination is on your list set a date to do the dull or daring things you’ve been putting off. These might include discussing your overdue promotion with your boss, finalising your tax return or doing your monthly admin.

Dump it

Get rid of excess ‘stuff’ taking up intolerable physical and emotional space. Forgive yourself for having invested unwisely in the wherewithal for activities you thought might help change your life

Think unused sports gear, complex kitchen gadgetry lurking in the back of the cupboard, those self help books you keep meaning to read but know you never will, that box of whimsical craft items you haven’t touched in five years and so on. Your ‘recycled ’goods may be the perfect kick start for someone else’s tolerations makeover.  

Delegate it

Could someone else take on some of your time suckage tolerations?

Answering this might mean reflecting on why you do these tasks as well as what they entail.

For example, are you doing the lion’s share of the housework because you need it done your way? Are you always the ‘go to’ person for fixing technology glitches, and managing meetings, despite being surrounded by capable but disinclined colleagues?

Delegation is an art. You need to communicate the task clearly and persuasively.

It is also a science, you need to monitor and evaluate and if necessary tweak the working arrangements.  Delegating successfully also relies on trust, careful compromise and surrendering a modicum of control.

If you’re tolerating jobs that could be passed on, check two things. Firstly why you’re doing them and secondly how you’re going to hand them over.   

Detach from it

This healthy self protective option can help you to stop putting up with unhealthy behaviours- your own and others. Detachment begins when you step back mentally and emotionally from something or someone you ‘know’ isn’t doing you any genuine good. 

Taking an honest and judgement free look at why you persist with unrewarding relationships sabotaging behaviours and jobs you’ve outgrown can help you get out of your own way or extricate yourself from others.

Exercising healthy detachment won’t make you less tolerant or empathetic to people in difficulty. In fact it’s quite likely that you’ll be more aware of your own and others’ feelings and respond more skilfully and clearly.

Last but not least- be kind

Tolerations tend to reflect our most ingrained habits. Ranging from miniscule to massive in impact, they’re things as diverse as a penchant for magazines or mud cakes, a fear of saying ‘no’ or and unwillingness to compromise.

These habits are hard to change in a hurry. Breaking ‘bad’ ones and making new ones means altering the way you think as well as the way you act. This involves considerable ‘brain work’ to reroute the neural pathways generating the thoughts and feelings connecting you to your most and least desirable behaviours.

Alas this is not the work of an instant – it takes time, persistent practice and a gentle dare I say it, tolerant touch when your carefully constructed plot gets lost. Understanding and accepting this is probably the biggest secret of success in learning to put up with less.   

Need help to get your ‘Dees’ in a row? I can help.

By Jo Green, Career Change Coach

I know what it feels like to be lost in your career. I also know that when you find what you love, heart and soul, your life changes. I work every day with people who are reshaping their current careers, starting new enterprises or searching for a new direction. Basically I help people who don’t like their job to figure out what to do instead!

As a Careershifters and Firework Advanced Certified Coach and experienced career changer myself, I can help you figure out what fulfilling work looks like for you.

Drop me a note to organise a free 20 minute consultation to chat about your career change and how coaching could help.