Over the past few weeks, I’ve been listening to the audiobook by Greg McKeown called Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, which has been shifting my mindset about my work and personal life. One of the recent chapters touched on the benefits of setting boundaries in our work and personal life.
To expound upon this essential idea, today’s personal growth guide explains how setting boundaries will make us less anxious, more content, and surprisingly more productive.
The Benefits of Setting Boundaries
1. Saying No To Other People’s Expectations Gives Us Freedom of Choice
Years ago, I first learned about the concept of setting boundaries from a friend. After going through a divorce, he went to therapy to learn why his marriage failed, which is when he learned about the benefits of setting boundaries.
Through therapy, he realized he had married his wife out of a sense of obligation (to her, their families, and to society), as he thought it was “the right thing to do”. But, after a miserable 7-month marriage, he finally realized this was the wrong decision for him. In the years that followed his divorce, he spent time learning how to say “no” when other people projected their expectations onto him. After years of personal growth and setting boundaries with others, he has become happier and more balanced.
His story inspired me to learn more about setting boundaries, which has helped me in my work and personal life.
2. Setting Boundaries Creates More Harmonious Relationships
Saying “no” to loved ones and creating boundaries in our personal lives is challenging, as we often feel guilty for disappointing people we care about. But, when we do things out of a sense of obligation, we become resentful, frustrated, and drained, which leads to tumultuous relationships and internal strife.
To create harmonious relationships, it’s up to us to set boundaries. Therefore, we need to decide how often, when, and what we’re willing to do for others.
3. Learning When We Need “Me Time” Helps Us Feel Happier
Setting boundaries in our personal lives also mean we need to establish regular “me time”, especially when we’re stressed or confused, rather than continuing to give to others. “Me time” can be as simple as a 1-hour workout or hike in nature, or as extensive as traveling by ourselves. Whatever we need to get centered and renew our energy is essential to becoming a happier person.
4. Become More Productive at Work by Setting Boundaries
As difficult as it is to set boundaries in our personal lives, it’s essential if we’re going to be happy for the long-term. Equally important is setting boundaries at work. Since our work lives are only getting busier, to be more productive, focused, and less stressed, we need to learn how and when to say “no” to our superiors, colleagues, and clients.
5. Prioritizing Responsibilities at Work Helps Us Get More Done
To help us set boundaries at work, we need to first determine the priority of our responsibilities. If we’re expected to finish an important project by a specified deadline, we need to say “no” to other less critical projects and tasks that come up.
6. Setting Time for Work vs. Personal Time is Essential
In addition, we need to make clear boundaries known relative to when we’re available. For some of us, it might mean no work calls accepted after 5pm or on weekends; for others, it might mean not responding to emails during certain hours. By enforcing the boundaries between work and personal life, we help ourselves create balance, which makes us happier and ultimately, more productive.
When we are completely focused at work, we don’t get distracted easily and are able to get more done, because we know we have a finite amount of time to work. Conversely, when we blur the lines between work and personal time, we get drained and feel scattered, leading to more errors on the job and lowered productivity.
By setting boundaries in our work and personal lives, we not only benefit ourselves, we help others learn the power of saying “no” as well. For the long-run, setting boundaries will make us feel more in control of our time and energy, which are our two most valuable resources.
For more self-help tips and advice, check out the Personal Growth section on Inspirations & Celebrations.
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