Home Blog Personal Development How well do you know your boundaries?
27
Oct
2016
How well do you know your boundaries?
 
"I'm very realistic. I know my boundaries - I know what I'm good at and what I'm not good at.” ~ Victoria Beckham
 
"To me there's no creativity without boundaries. If you're gonna write a sonnet, it's 14 lines, so it's solving the problem within the container.” ~ Lorne Michaels
 
"Never set limits, go after your dreams, don't be afraid to push the boundaries. And laugh a lot - it's good for you!” ~ Paula Radcliffe

Do you know what your personal or professional boundaries are? It’s an issue that comes up frequently in coaching conversations, especially when clients are feeling overstretched and stressed.
 
The first time you might recognise that you have boundaries is when they are crossed or you cross someone else's. You can probably remember when your parents told you to be in at 11pm and you got in at midnight, to a telling off, and maybe to be grounded for serial offences! 
 
Or your boss asks you to take on extra responsibilities without any mention of more money, or you feel you have to work long into the evening because everyone else does, yet feel annoyed and resentful about it. 
 
But don't kid yourself that you HAVE to work those long hours. You start off choosing to work them and before long it becomes a habit - a default that then becomes hard to break. 
 
The thing is that if you know your boundaries, you can make a choice about whether to go beyond them or not.
 
In this short video Brené Brown describes boundaries as what’s OK and what’s not OK. She also says that most people don't set boundaries, because they fear what others will think of them.
 
Setting boundaries keeps you safe and ensures you are meeting your needs. They enable you to function well. 
 
How often do you say ‘yes’ to requests from others, when you you’d rather be saying no? You can’t be all things to all people all of the time. If you know your limits, it leads to healthy behaviour that respects who you are, in yourself as well as others.
 
My friend Pearl, a senior manager in a consulting business, has clear boundaries about her work:
 
- she leaves work at 5pm to ensure she gets home in time to spend some quality time with her children
- she works at home no more than one night a week
she is willing to say ‘no’ when she is asked to take on more work - and is very skillful at doing so
- she switches off work emails at weekends and on holiday.
 
Of course there are occasions when she crosses these boundaries, but they are few and far between and she does so recognising that it is her decision.
 
A good time to set boundaries is when you start a new job. Our habits develop very quickly, and you want to start out as you mean to go on. After Christmas or on return from holiday also works well to start to implement new practices.
 
Do:
- get clear what your boundaries and/or non-negotiables are. If you’re not sure how, then get in touch.
- review them from time to time to check they’re still working for you
 
Don’t:
- fret if you cross them occasionally, but only do so consciously and watch out that it doesn’t become a habit.
 

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