Do you ever feel like you struggle saying no?
Like it’s almost impossible for you to disappoint people.
Well, you’re not alone. I used to say yes to just about every “opportunity” that would come my way.
I use the word “opportunity” lightly because that is what I used to call tasks that I didn’t want to do because it sounded cooler.
But to be honest, I put myself in some pretty stressful positions because I just didn’t know how to say no.
Fortunately, it all changed when I started setting boundaries. Boundaries were my way of prioritizing what I needed in life.
They helped me avoid giving away all my free time to tasks that weren’t important to me.
Limits and boundaries are a great way to stay intentional about your life. You should only be putting your time into things that matter to you.
Now, let’s get into what boundaries are, how they can help you, and a few tips that will help you set and maintain them.
What are Personal Boundaries?
Personal Boundaries are a set of rules you set for yourself to protect your quality of life.
They are put in place to prevent you from being forced into activities you don’t want to do.
Everyone is going to have different personal boundaries because everyone values different things in life.
For example, someone may set a boundary like “Once I get home, I am not doing any work from the office.”
This person values their personal time so has made the rule to leave work at the office.
Personal boundaries are unique to you and you can be as strict or soft with them as you want. It is all about what kind of life you want.
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Why are Boundaries Important?
Limits and boundaries help you control your life.
If you do not lay out ground rules in your relationships then you are at risk of being manipulated.
Numerous people find themselves dumping all their time into things they never wanted to do in the first place because they didn’t have any boundaries in place.
Learning how to set boundaries helps you prioritize what is important to you. It is important to satisfy your needs in life.
It also helps people understand what you are willing and not willing to do and eventually they will stop asking you to do so many things.
That’s the beauty of boundaries. People will stop asking you for so many things because you are going to stop saying yes to everyone.
Tips for Setting and Maintaining Limits and Boundaries
Now that you see the usefulness of limits and boundaries, I want to give you some tips on setting and maintaining them.
Tip #1: Know What You Want
To successfully set healthy boundaries you have to identify what is important to you.
Is it personal time? Time with friends? Time with your significant other? Starting a business? Traveling more?
Choose a few things that are important in your life and start thinking about what boundaries you need to put in place to prioritize these important things.
Tip #2: Realize Saying “No” is Not Bad
Saying no does not make you a horrible person.
A lot of the time we are afraid to say no because it may make us look bad or inconsiderate.
The most common example is saying no to your boss or coworker. You might think saying no to these people will make you seem like a bad worker.
That is not the case. If you say no in a nice and respectful manner then there will be no harm to your reputation.
You are just creating the dividing line between work and home. The word no is not a bad reflection on you.
It is your choice to say yes or no, you are not forced to pick either one.
So start by practicing saying “no” more.
Tip #3: Stop Thinking About What Others Think
Most of the time we are afraid to set boundaries because we are afraid of what others will think of us.
Will it disappoint them? Will they be mad?
A majority of the time we think of the worst case scenario.
We think if we set boundaries in our relationships that the whole world will start coming down.
Trust me, it won’t. In my experience they will respect you more about being intentional about your life.
In the end, it doesn’t matter what people think. It’s your life and if you’re happy that is all that matters.
Tip #4: Start Small
Setting boundaries and limits takes time.
It is not something you can do overnight. So start small.
Set one new boundary and focus on it until you master it.
Then you can add a new boundary after you have mastered the old one.
Just keep repeating this cycle until all your boundaries are in place.
This prevents you from being overwhelmed by all the changes, this way you are more likely to honor the new boundaries in your life.
Tip #5: Make it Clear in The Beginning
Setting boundaries early helps establish a good foundation for relationships.
It informs people how to treat you from the very beginning and it leads to less conflict down the line.
Like for example, in the work setting, if your boundary is to not bring any work home from the office let that be known in the beginning.
If you do it in the beginning then they will never expect you to take work home.
As opposed to someone who sets a boundary later down the line and then people have to accommodate this new boundary.
So try your best to make your boundaries clear in the beginning of your relationship.
Tip #6: Stick With it
You have to stay consistent with these limits and boundaries.
If you are not consistent they will not become habits and that is ultimately your goal.
It will be hard to be consistent in the beginning but you need to push through if you want to keep these boundaries in place.
Just remember it will get easier over time and every time you stick with it benefits you in some way.
So stay consistent.
Tip #7: Be Clear
Be clear with people about your boundaries.
The clearer you are about your boundaries, the better people can understand and respect them.
Like for example again, if your boundary is to not take any work from the office to your house then make that clear with people.
If someone asks you to complete a task at home tell them, “I don’t bring home work from the office, but I can do it first thing in the morning.”
That is how you clearly set a boundary. It lets the person know what you are not willing to do and gives them an alternative offer.
This is the best way to communicate your boundaries to people so they can respect them.
Tip #8: Create Accountability For Yourself
It’s hard to stick to something when you aren’t being held accountable.
You need to create some type of system for tracking this new habit.
I suggest you create a habit tracking table to track your progress of sticking to your boundaries.
If you don’t want to make a table you can try having an accountability buddy.
An accountability buddy is basically someone in your life that you report to whenever you don’t follow through with something.
So in this case if you don’t follow through on your new boundaries you have to tell your accountability partner.
Holding yourself accountable makes you more likely to follow through so I highly recommend this tip.
Tip #9: Know You Are Important
Recognize how important you are.
A lot of the time we don’t value our wants and that leads to an unhappy life.
You need to recognize that your happiness is the most important thing in your life.
It’s ok to be a little selfish. To be able to follow through on your boundaries you have to know that you are doing it for you.
You are doing it to create the life that you want for yourself.
So be aware that your happiness is at stake, and I hope that motivates you to stay consistent.
Tip #10: Think Long Term
Imagine the future of your life if you stick to your boundaries.
You will be able to control what you do with your life.
You will be able to travel more, read more, cook more, whatever you want to do.
Have this life be your motivation to maintain your limits and boundaries.
Tip #11: Reward Yourself
Last but not least, reward yourself.
Setting and maintaining boundaries is no easy task so celebrate when you do.
Be proud of yourself because you are doing something most people don’t have the courage to do.
Feel good that you are putting yourself first. So reward yourself with something you love.
You deserve it.
Limits and boundaries can make or break your quality of life.
You can either lead a life filled with meaningless tasks or have a life filled with the fun things you have always wanted to do.
Being consistent with your boundaries isn’t easy but it is worth it.
You will thank yourself in the future for putting yourself first.
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