The pivotal shift for me in truly making room for a work life that feels good, was learning to set healthy boundaries.
Boundaries are important because they create the time and space you need to do what you want to do. It helps you to stop overworking, to ensure that you are in control of what you are prioritizing, and it helps you to remain productive and prevents outside distractions.
The first step to setting healthy boundaries is identifying the difference between boundaries and control. One of the keys to life is learning that you cannot control the behavior of other people. One of the other keys to life is learning that you get to choose how people interact with you. So, how the hell do you tell the difference between these two things?
The simplest way that I’ve found to describe this is that boundaries refer to something coming into your space. Just like putting a fence around your house helps you to determine who comes in, setting boundaries around your life & your time helps you to be more discerning about what comes in. Control is not respecting someone else’s boundaries and forcing them to interact with your overstep. Setting boundaries is not controlling people, it’s not letting other people to control you. When setting boundaries you are not speaking to the other person’s behavior, you are speaking to how you will respond to that behavior.
Ex. If someone regularly stops by your house without asking, you don’t say, “I need you to stop coming to my house unannounced, it stresses me out and prevents me from getting work done. Why would you do that?” That response is an attempt to control their behavior. Instead, you simply inform them that stopping by without calling will mean that you can’t answer the door because you are in the middle of a work day. They are free to behave however they’d like and you are free to respond in a way that serves you and your time.
So, now that we know the difference between controlling and setting boundaries I will walk you step by step step through my foolproof method for setting a healthy boundary!
Step One: Communicate clearly the boundary that you have set and what crossing that looks like for you.
I.e. When you come to the house without calling first, it often causes me to lose productivity and miss out on valuable work hours.
Step Two: Describe how you will respond to a crossed boundary.
I.e. In the future, if you stop by without calling I will not be able to come to the door.
Step Three: Follow through. When they cross the boundary in the future, it is KEY that you follow through with the response you’ve laid out for them. If they learn that they can cross your boundary and still get what they want out of it, they will have no incentive to respect your boundary in the future.
I.e. no matter how awkward it is, do not answer the door.
- Choose one boundary to set today. What is an area of your life where someone is consistently pushing past your comfort zone, taking too much from your or making you feel less than good?
- What’s an area of your life where other people are taking time away from you but you aren’t receiving anything in return? How can you create boundaries to get that time back?