In last week’s post, we talked about what it means to step in as a leader while not “doing it all.” This week we’d like to follow that up with some tips on how you can start to set healthy boundaries.
We all know that we should have healthy boundaries, but for many of us we think we’re being mean or lazy when we set limits that take care of our own needs.
Having healthy boundaries isn’t about being mean. It’s about taking care of yourself, knowing and understanding your limits, and communicating them to the people in your world.
If you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t have the energy, interest, or focus to do the things that really matter in your life!
The following 5 steps will help you create healthy boundaries so that you can live your life, your way—doing the things that matter to you and caring for the people you love.
- Identify your limits.
You can’t set effective boundaries if you’re unsure of where you stand.
So, identify your physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual limits. By “limits” we mean the point in your life where you go from feeling good and effective to starting to feel depleted and spent. Think of it as the line that separates feeling good about what you are doing and feeling overwhelmed.
Think about these limits or this line when you PAUSE throughout the day.
- PAUSE often.
Whether you’re at the beginning of your day and planning how you’ll spend your moments, or you find yourself in a heated conversation about responsibilities. PAUSE. Take a few breaths and center yourself.
In this moment, ask yourself, “Is what I’m about to do or say in alignment with my goals?”
Now, respond rather than reacting in old, habitual ways. As a leader that means influencing others and being open to being influenced by others. You’re a leader. You matter and they matter.
- Communicate regularly.
Of course, it’s not enough to create boundaries; you actually have to follow through and maintain them. It’s important to be diligent in communicating with others about your boundaries, so they’ll be less likely to cross them.
Don’t wait for the moment to arise!
Let people know up front what your boundaries are so that they can respect them. And, you don’t have to say the words “My boundaries are . . . ” Something as simple as “I will need to leave the meeting by 3:30 pm today, what do we need to focus on to get that done?” will work well and not sound quite as harsh.
Just as your habits are hard to change, so are theirs—you may need to continue reminding people about your limits.
In a respectful way, let the other person know what in particular you need and work together to address it. Working together is very powerful and helps them feel like a part of the process.
Remember, when we suggest working together, it’s about how to meet your need for healthy boundaries, not whether or not you have them.
- Give yourself permission.
You have a right to personal boundaries.
You might fear the other person’s response if you set and enforce your boundaries, or you might feel guilty by speaking up or saying no to a family member.
Yet, if you try to do it all, you’ll wind up unable to be truly present in what you’re doing. It doesn’t make you a bad person if you say “no.” It helps you be your best when you do say “yes.”
- Seek support.
It’s often hard to see how you can do things differently when you’re so busy doing, doing, doing.
Getting the support of a trusted other can be really helpful. Consider starting a group of like-minded friends or colleagues; ask a friend, minister, or mentor to help you move forward; or seek out the support of a professional coach or ally.
Boundaries aren’t just a sign of self-respect, they’re also a sign of respect for others.
You’ll find that the better your boundaries are, the more effective you’ll be at doing the things you’re doing. You’ll be happier and more present with others.
You can do this – we believe in you!
— Your Coaches and Allies at Carpenter Smith Consulting