How to Thrive at Work with Boundaries. Blog Series PART 3

Boundaries

Boundaries are important for us all in being able to thrive at work.

You’re reading Part 3 of a 3 part Blog series on Boredom, Burnout and Boundaries at work. You can find the previous 2 posts here: The Burnout Boom; Boredom, Burnout and Boundaries, Part 2. and  How to NOT hate your work; Burnout, Boredom and Boundaries Part 1.

Now it’s time to turn our attention to boundaries. Why? Because having healthy boundaries is something that’s going to protect you from both. 

Our world today is boundaryless.

Advances in technology mean that we can be on call 24/7 through multiple channels of communication. Worse still, people can see when you are online and when you have read a message. The only way to get away from work in today’s world is through conscious choice and good boundary management. 

I appreciate that boundaries may be a bit of a ‘coach’ word, so what am I talking about when I mention boundaries. 

It’s about having limits, being clear to yourself on what you say yes to and what you say no to. If your work is going to require you to make compromises, boundaries help you to make conscious choices about how you spend your time and what you do and don’t do. 

How do boundaries protect you from boredom and burnout? 

Having boundaries helps you to develop your self awareness. How bored do you need to be at work before you’ll take action and make a change? If you have no boundaries, you could continue forever in a lack lustre job and just make excuses for why this is OK. 

Boundaries are about self respect.

They say “I matter” and encourage you to build a life beyond work. 

Consider these questions

  • “How many hours is ‘too many’ hours to work? 
  • “If someone asks you to do something and you’re already stretched, what do you say?”
  • “What do you do if you’re asked to work late and you’ve made a commitment to a loved one to meet them for dinner?”
  • “Do you go to work when you’re not feeling well?”
  • “How open are you about your thoughts, opinions and ideas in the workplace” 
  • “When you feel upset/agitated/frustrated about something, to what extent do you share this and with who?”
  •  “What do you do when you see someone being treated unfairly”
  • “If that person is you, what do you do?”

These are just a sample of questions where boundaries come up. Some will be easier to answer than others. 

Setting clear boundaries isn’t always easy. There are things that get in the way. 

Let’s take a look at some of the barriers to setting clear boundaries and what to do about them

1. The desire to please

The world is full of people who want to please others and it’s a wonderful quality to have. People love to be around people pleasers because they make us feel wanted, they’re kid and thoughtful. But if you are the person doing the people pleasing the needs that are neglected are your own. 

Over time this can erode your wellbeing and leave you feeling unappreciated. 

There’s 2 important things that people pleasers can learn. 

#1 – take time to understand what your own needs are. You may be so used to serving others that you have no idea of how you need to be supported. 

#2 – Learn to say no. You don’t have to be rude. Saying no is an important skill to learn, and there are many ways that you can learn to say no politely. 

2. The desire for perfection

Perfectionists in the house raise your hands! You are a delight to have on the team because you can always be relied upon for high quality work delivered on time. But, find you when you’re feeling the pressure and it’s likely you have no idea where the ‘good enough’ line is. 

Perfection only exists in your mind, it’s not a real thing, and an untapped desire for perfection is a big contributor to burnout. 

What boundaries are important for you? 

#1 – learning when enough is enough. Your 80% is most likely many people’s 120%. Take time to recalibrate your standards and notice when the time is right for you to deliver and move on

3. The desire to show no weakness

For many people showing emotion is synonymous with weakness. It’s not that you find others displays of emotion weak, but you believe YOUR display of emotion shows weakness. You are strong, you can handle whatever is thrown at you, and so you will continue to take on more and more, because you can. 

Except we all know how this story ends. Eventually you take on too much and you flip from being calm and composed to losing your rag and feeling deeply undervalued. 

So what boundaries are important for you?

#1 – Be realistic with what you can and can’t do. Not being able to do something isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s about having great prioritisation skills and the ability to assess how long a job will take. We could all do more and more but where do you draw the line? You have to draw a line so be clear with yourself on what is reasonable. Being clear here, practical things can help

How many hours will you work? 

What will you do if something is taking you longer? 
How will you communicate that? 

#2 – Ask for feedback and share more. People have no idea what you are working on. Your desire to show no weakness generally also means you also don’t let people see your unfinished work. This is less about boundaries and more about taking your own walls down. Let people in, share more and ask for feedback. 

Can you see yourself in these?

Now these are all sweeping generalisations, you can probably see yourself in a few of these. The point is, boundaries help you to thrive. They also help people to know what they can rely on you for. When you are consistent and clear about your boundaries people get to know what you stand for. Don’t be afraid of recognising and meeting your own needs. We all need a little more of that these days. 

IF you’re struggling with boundaries it could be because you’re unclear on what’s important to you in work. Stay tuned by subscribing to my Blog for plenty of helpful tips and tools for helping you to thrive at work and learn what’s important to you. 

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