To many people, building boundaries is a foreign thing. We are taught to be open and welcoming. We are taught to say ‘Yes’ and ‘Yes’ and ‘Yes.’ And I teach those ones as well. But if we are to perform more and produce more, we need to learn how to say ‘No’ along with saying ‘Yes.’ We need to learn to build boundaries.
Here are three reasons why:
First, you and I have limits. Look at the day itself, there are only 24 hours. In it, you have to sleep, eat, work and do a lot of things. If you have 8 hours to do your work, can you do work that is meant for 12 hours? No, that would entail overtime. You have to choose what you do and what you do should further what you are meant to do.
Second, you and I need to focus on our life’s work (not just busy work). Are you doing your life’s work or just busy work? “A man in the crowd said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, tell my brother to divide with me the property our father left us.’ Jesus answered him, ‘Friend, who gave me the right to judge or to divide the property between you two?’ And he went on to say to them all… (Luke 12:13-14)’ Look at what he did. He said ‘No’ without batting an eyelash.
Someone asked him to do something. But he declined. He said ‘No’ and continued to teach the crowd. He said ‘No’ so he can do what he has to do.
Remember that every time we say ‘Yes’ to something, we are saying ‘No’ to another thing. And every time we say ‘No to something, we can say ‘Yes’ to another thing. The question is, “To which things are you saying ‘No’ to? To which things are you saying ‘Yes’ to?”
I hope you are saying ‘Yes’ to the right things so you can focus on your life’s work.
For us to focus on our life’s work, the work that we are meant to do, we have to say ‘No’ to other things which other people are meant to do.
Third, you and I must lessen unnecessary stress. Every time we say ‘Yes’ to something, we are saying, “Yes, I will put my time, effort, and resources to it. I will also bear the stress that comes with it.”
You see, stress is part of life. But there are necessary stress and unnecessary stress. There is too much stress in life already that is using up your energy. You better choose to deal with the stress that are necessary.
When you are doing unnecessary work, you are dealing with unnecessary stress.
These are just some of the reasons why you need to build your boundaries. And when you build your boundaries, you will be able to build up your performance. Because you will be able to focus your time, effort and resources to the work that you are meant to do. You will stay away from the distractions of mere busy work and you will do your life’s work.
But let me issue a warning: It will be difficult at first and some people may get hurt in the short run.
Let us clarify what boundaries are –
Boundaries are parameters to what you will say YES to and NO to. Boundaries are a part of our compass. It is a manifestation of our values. It helps us in our decision making. It sets when we are going to say ‘Yes’ or ‘No.’
Boundaries are not walls that block but a pathway that guides. Do not confuse setting boundaries with setting blockages or walls that will put away people and opportunities. It is actually the opposite. Rather than looking at it as a wall, look at it as a pathway that guides you where you need to go. It gives you direction to where you can pour your effort to, to where you can do more of your life’s work, to where you can serve more people.
Now that we understand why we need to set boundaries and how we should view boundaries, let us look at some action items we can do to build boundaries in our daily life.
- Learn to say NO. And saying NO is OK.
- Say NO to projects or tasks with unreasonable deadline/s.
- Say NO to doing other people’s jobs.
- Stop helping when you are not helping.
- Do not lend money to people who constantly overspends (especially on luxuries).
- Do not work overtime just to help people who are habitually late.
- Do not answer questions which answers can be found by themselves (without the need of your personal perspective).
- Do not start the day with others’ agenda.
- Act with INTENTION. You will be treated as you behave.
- Set UNINTERRUPTED TIME when you need to.
These are just some of the practical tips that you can do to build boundaries. But when applied at work and in life, it will yield the desired results. It will build up your performance and your will produce more and may even help you get promoted.
(Chris Dao-anis is an author, trainer and speaker who aspires to help you become the better you – that includes your team or your audience. Invite him to speak or train by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit www.chrisdaoanis.com for more details.)