Managing Your Boundaries

balance and wellbeing career tips Nov 26, 2021

One of the foundations for maintaining your wellbeing is to be clear on your personal boundaries and then enforcing them. You can think of your boundaries as an agreement you have with yourself to control how much energy you are dedicating to meet your own needs and how much of it you are spending to meet other people’s needs. You need to set boundaries not to limit yourself, but to take care of yourself and ensure you are living the life that you want.

Therefore, before you can have and maintain boundaries externally with others, you need to set those boundaries internally with yourself. This means that you need to recognise what fuels your energy and helps you maintain it, and ensure you are always giving more energy into yourself than you are giving out.

Below are a few things you can focus on to ensure you have the right boundaries to support your wellbeing at work and outside of work. Before you continue reading, remember to not judge your needs and what comes up for you while reading the rest of this article. Whatever you think or feel, is the sign of something inside that needs to be recognised by you, not judged.

  • Get to Know Your Energy cycle. You need to work with your own energy levels. Some people have stable energy throughout the day and others work in cycles of high and low energy and need more rest in between. You might have particular times of the day where you have more creative energy, or times that you need to have down time and be on your own. Work out your own energy cycle and plan your activities that support your energy levels best.
  • Be Clear on Your Needs. Needs and boundaries are closely related. When you learn about yourself and learn what you need, make that commitment upfront to give yourself what you need. For example, if you need to spend time to plan your upcoming week in order to stay in flow and work efficiently, block that time in your calendar in advance and stick to it.
  • Review and Prioritise Your Needs. Your list of needs is probably very similar to your to-do list which you can never fully tick off. As you tick some items off, new items will appear. You need to be realistic with your time and energy and decide what your priority needs are, so you can set the right boundaries in place and make sure your top priority needs are met.
  • Get Comfortable with Pulling Back and Saying No. As uncomfortable as it is, pulling back on commitments that are not a priority and saying no to meetings and activities that violate your boundaries is essential for your wellbeing. When you commit to yourself and stick with what you need to maintain your health, you will end up with more energy and capacity to give to other people. Therefore, saying no right now means that you recognise you need to say yes to yourself. 
  • Learn to Ask for Help. You don’t always have to do it alone. Sometimes all you need is to recognise you can’t do something on your own and ask for help. At work for example, you might have been anxious for days because you are not sure if you can meet a certain deadline. Maybe a walking meeting with your manager or a coffee with an experienced colleague could give you a fresh perspective and help you speed up in a way that you couldn’t think of on your own. Asking for help doesn’t mean you have failed or are going to fail. It could simply mean you know it can be done in a better way and you want to find out what that is.

If you would like to learn more about boundaries and learn how to set the right ones for yourself, we highly recommend you watch this talk  by Sarri Gliman.

Remember that you can’t suddenly create a whole lot of new boundaries and stick to all of them. You need to play around with them and experience them. You won’t know what works for you until you have experienced it in real life.

But you need to start somewhere. Do not worry about highs and lows. Do not worry about going forwards and backwards. Progress is rarely a straight line.

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