10 Tips on How to Build Boundaries Into Your Work-Life

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If you notice that many of your peers or people around you have achieved success in their career through a multitude of ways, you may not see the underlying struggle to discover that perfect balance between work and personal life. Now look back at your current state, if you’re feeling that your work is taking over your personal life to an unhealthy level, here are 10 tips to help you establish some work-life boundaries.

1. Know your limits

You won’t be able to set your boundaries if you’re not sure where you should stand. To determine your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual limits. Consider what you can tolerate and accept what makes you feel uncomfortable or stressed. These feelings can help you identify what are your limits.

2. Tuning into your feelings

There are two key feelings that you need to let watch out for, which is resentment and discomfort. Think of these feelings as a continuum from one to ten. Six to ten is the top tier zone. If you’re at the top tier zone of this continuum, especially while at work, ask yourself, what is causing that? What is it about this work or discussion, or your colleague’s expectation that is bothering you? 

Resentment tends to come from being taken advantage of or not being appreciated at work. It’s considered a bad sign that you are pushing yourself over your limit because of peer pressure or feeling guilty, or it could just be someone else imposing their expectation, views or values on you.

3. Learn to be direct

While engaging with people at work, maintaining a healthy boundary doesn’t require a direct and clear-cut dialogue. At times, this is the case if people have similar communication styles, point of view, personality and general approach to work and life. While facing people with opposing personalities or views, you will have to be more direct about your boundaries. Take, for example, your colleague thinks that challenging someone’s personal opinion is considered a good way of communicating, but you may think this is considered disrespectful. 

4. Give yourself permission

Self-doubt, guilt and fear are big potential pitfalls. You might fear the other person’s response if you set and enforce your boundaries. You might feel guilty by speaking up or saying no to a person. You might believe that you can overcome a situation or just say yes because you think of yourself as a good employee, even though you feel drained or being taken advantage of. You might be wondering if you even deserve to have boundaries set for yourself in the first place. Boundaries are not just a sign of a positive relationship, they are a sign of self-respect. So learn to give yourself permission to set boundaries and work to preserve them.

5. Practice self-awareness

Boundaries are all about honing in your feelings and respecting them. If you found yourself slipping and not able to sustain your boundaries, ask yourself. What has changed? Consider “What I am doing or what is the other person doing? Or What is the current situation eliciting that’s making you feel resentful or stressed? Then, consider your options: What are you going to do about the situation? What do you have control over?

6. Consider your past and present

How you raised yourself in your career with your role in the company you work with can become additional challenges in setting and preserving your boundaries. If you are holding the role of a senior or manager position, you learned to focus on others, letting yourself be drained emotionally or physically. Putting aside your own needs might have become the norm for you. You may even start to think if the relationship is going to be reciprocal? Is there going to be a healthy give and take? Beyond work relationships, your work environment might not be good, too. Take, for example, you have to work overtime frequently, but your co-workers get to leave from work on time which is good for work-life balance. Perhaps you might pick up pointers here and there from experience or through observing others. But for you, boundary-building is a relatively new concept and a challenging one to adopt.

7. Make self-care your main priority

Making self-care a priority also focuses on permitting yourself to put yourself first ahead. When you do this, your need and motivation to set boundaries will become greater. Self-care also means recognizing the significance of your feelings and respecting them. These feelings will serve as major cues about your wellbeing and about what makes you happy and sad.

8. Seek help

If you’re having difficulty with building boundaries, seek support, whether through a support group, counselling, coaching or good friends. You can seek advice from your friends and family as well while making it a priority with each other to practice setting boundaries together and hold each other accountable. 

9. Be assertive

If you have successfully set up your boundaries, you need to follow through. This where you need to assertively communicate with other people when you face a situation where a person crossed your boundary. Respectfully, inform the person what in particular is troubling to you and that you can work and address it together.

10. Start with small steps

Similar to learning any new skills, assertively communicating your boundaries will take time to practice. It is best to start with a small boundary and then gradually increase it to face more challenging boundaries. From there build upon your success and try not to take on something that you cannot handle. 

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You Jing is a content writer who writes career and lifestyle contents to inspire job seekers and employers alike on their journey to work-life balance, empowerment and transformation in their career path.

Reach me at youjing@jobstore.com

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