How to Set Effective Boundaries
By Megan Dalla-Camina, Women Rising Founder & CEO
Do you have effective boundaries in your work and life? Boundaries are an incredibly important factor when it comes to your career, life and wellbeing because when you have effective boundaries, you’re honouring and protecting what you’ve declared is most important to you. It will help you to spend some time getting clear on your life vision and purpose, so that you have a view of what is on your agenda right now. This framework will give you more confidence to decide and honour where your boundaries need to be.
When you look at effective boundary management, there are three core components to focus on:
1) Setting boundaries
2) Implementing and communicating boundaries
3) Managing boundaries
When you’re deciding where you need to set boundaries, you can start by anchoring them to deeply held values. If one of your values is family time, then having a boundary around your work time that then protects that family time may be important for you. The more you can anchor your boundaries into your values, the easier it is not only to set them, but to manage them.
As a guide, set boundaries for your wellbeing and your relationships first, before anything else. Because when you look after yourself, you have the opportunity to do well in so many other areas of your life.
Your ability to say no will be key to your ability to manage your boundaries effectively. You can practice being decisive and getting more comfortable over time in that decisiveness. For so many of us as women, we will say yes or maybe when what we really want to say is no. It’s getting comfortable making a decision and holding that decision, knowing that it is something you feel strongly about, and you are saying no to something that isn’t in alignment with your values or just isn't a priority for you right now.
If you are wondering where a boundary might need to be set, often you can be guided by your emotions here. Any time you are feeling angry, annoyed or resentful toward someone, that is often a sign that one of your boundaries has been crossed. Or it could be that you actually don’t have a boundary in place, and you need to have one there.
Tap into your emotional state. How are you feeling? Where do you feel put-upon? Where do you feel that someone’s taking advantage of you? Where do you feel resentful? You said yes. And you really wanted to say no. How can you pull that back and put a boundary in place so that you don’t have to feel like that anymore?
Learning to communicate your boundaries clearly is a muscle that you build over time. Like anything, it’s a practice. Acknowledge where you feel hesitant, and what stories you may be telling yourself that are stopping you from taking action. Are you afraid of being judged harshly, of losing an opportunity or not being liked? Be honest about what’s holding you back from honouring your needs, setting the right boundaries and communicating them with important people in your work and life.
1) Where do you need to set boundaries so you can take care of yourself and nourish yourself on all levels? Identify the top three boundaries you’ll need to set to bring your wellbeing intentions to life.
2) Who do you need to share and communicate these boundaries with? Think about who will be affected or impacted by the boundary, whether it’s your boss at work or your partner at home.
3) What are the stories or beliefs that are coming up for you around the boundaries that you want to set that may be stopping you from taking action?
4) What actions will you take to set and manage your new boundaries and
protect what is most important for you?
5) What is the first step you’ll take this week?