So often, I’m hearing from women who are really struggling to set boundaries.
What's worse is they don't even realize it!
Your burn out, overwhelm, resentment, procrastination - it can all be resolved within a healthy boundary.
You need to know when to set this boundary so you can protect it and respect it once it's in place. There will be a learning curve figuring this out.
How do you stay firm in your decision without feeling the weight of other people’s expectations?
Chances are, you probably have these same types of questions.
You may have spent time on blogs or in facebook groups trying to find answers.
It can be hard to know which sources are reliable on the internet these days, which is why I compiled a list of frequently asked questions!
I wanted to make sure you got the right info from someone who has had success setting and implementing boundaries - with that said, this is not always easy to do and requires some discipline.
Let’s get into it.
How will I know where to set a boundary?
Start with some self-reflection.
To successfully introduce and commit to your boundaries, it’s key to understand why they’re each important to you and how they will benefit your emotional well-being.
Take time to determine what’s happening in your life that isn’t working for you.
This could be your boss reaching out after you’ve logged out for the day. Or picking up a project you don’t have time for because you didn’t feel comfortable saying no.
Look at your life and think about what areas aren’t feeling great.
How can I break the negative patterns I’ve let creep in?
Start small. If you don’t have many established boundaries, the prospect of introducing new ones might seem overwhelming.
Build them up slowly. Doing so allows you to take things at a more comfortable pace and provides time to reflect on whether it’s heading in the right direction or if you need to make some adjustments.
This may look like choosing to wait until you’re back “on the clock” to reply to that client and let them know that you don’t respond to work emails after 6. It’s up to you if you care to elaborate and share that your work-life-balance is important to you and that this is a boundary you have in place to protect that balance.
Either way, you established a boundary by simply letting your client know what to expect from you.
REMEMBER: How they react or interpret your communication about your boundary has nothing to do with you and you can simply continue to reply to them exclusively during your working hours.
When is the best time to set a boundary?
Set them ASAP. Sometimes it can be really hard to start implementing and expressing your boundaries in pre-existing relationships. If you can put in boundaries straight away, it’s a lot easier to manage.
By setting boundaries and expectations from the very beginning, everyone knows where they stand and what to expect. Feelings of hurt, confusion, and frustration can be lessened this way.
This can look like letting a new or potential client know what platforms are best to reach you and which don’t work for you. It’s as simple as a tattoo artist putting “do not DM me to book a session - sessions are booked via email only” in their Instagram bio. They are setting the expectation from the very beginning, with no explanation needed.
What if I let things slide?
Do your best to be consistent. Letting boundaries slide can lead to confusion and encourage new expectations and demands among those around you.
Keeping things steady helps reinforce your original threshold and belief. It ensures those lines remain clearly established.
When you email your client back at 9pm just this once, they may expect you to do the same in the future.
If you let things slide, don't guilt yourself. Like I said before, there is a learning curve to all of this!
Be aware of how your boundary was crossed and create a plan for how you will handle it differently in the future.
How can I make this work for me?
Create a framework. Boundaries vary depending on the type of relationship. However, if you find it helpful, there’s no reason not to have a few basics in place that can always be adapted.
Consider this - you no longer work on Saturdays. This stands no matter the client, project etc. That is a simple boundary.
You may have a quiet time for meditation or coffee that you partake in each morning. This shouldn’t change if your family visits or if you get a new roommate. These boundaries can apply no matter what.
I have some boundaries in place, what now?
Analyze if there is anywhere else you'd like to improve and gradually expand on them!
In some aspects of our lives, like the workplace, there are standard "blanket" boundaries in place - arrive on time, be professional, complete your daily expectations. Colleagues will likely have some of their own in place and it’s okay for you to add some too. Transparent communication is the key.
Doing so may even enhance your performance. Austrian researchers found that employees who introduced personal workplace boundaries felt more empowered.
It's important to check back in with your boundaries often to ensure they are in alignment with your goals and lifestyle.
Where am I most likely to struggle with consistency?
If you’re asking this you likely already know the answer, social media of course!
Platforms like Facebook and Instagram allow for more communication than ever and with that comes considerable boundary blurring. It’s almost like we're being encouraged to over-share at every turn.
Want your audience to know, like, and trust you?
Better tell them about every aspect of your life.
We know that others over-share if we’re not the ones doing it, and research shows that over half of social media users are concerned that family and friends will post personal information or photos that they don’t want shared publicly.
If you deem a particular action as boundary-crossing in real life, your concerns are no less valid when it happens online.
You don't have to follow accounts that don’t align with you and you don’t have to expose yourself to anything you don’t want to consume.
Consider this boundary example: If you head to twitter for your news, set aside an hour in the evening or morning just for this rather than letting notifications distract you all day.
Another social media boundary may be taking the approach of many celebrities and their kids. They recognize that being in the spotlight should maybe be their child’s choice rather than theirs and choose not to share their kids on their public platforms.
Moral of this story - YOU GET TO CHOOSE.
So now that you have some insight on healthy boundaries, take these ideas and figure out how they can apply to you! Having a support system and tools to get you through the transition period to your new lifestyle is going to be vital - check out how I can help, here!
Set boundaries with confidence knowing you’re protecting your time, your emotions, and your energy.