It’s so easy to bend your own rules here and there for a friend, for a co-worker for your boss. And to be honest, doing so here and there is fine but when you find yourself constantly going against what you want, against your own values, against your own needs, life begins to feel frustrating and all the little things you say “sure, I can do that” to suddenly feel like burdens instead of enjoyment. People suddenly expect you to help and no longer ask you. I’ve been there before and I often have to remind myself to get back on track with my boundaries.
The key to setting boundaries is knowing what you want and what you value and having something tangible to remind you of them often. When you have these at the forefront of your mind day in, day out, it becomes easier to stand your ground when you need to because your most important things/people/events are not buried under all the other things on your to do list. There’s less to filter through. Knowing what you want means you can know faster when something doesn’t match up with what you want.
A friend of mine gave me a trick a few years ago now, that I have just started using in everyday life. Here’s how it works.
Write a list of your most important goals. What do you most want from life at the moment? Is it more time with family? Is it writing your first book, is it getting a whole stack of homework done, is it meditating every day? or is it to run a half marathon? Write it down. Keep that list super close and handy at all times.
Whenever someone asks you to do something, to go somewhere to attend an event, to say back and work late, ask them if you can get back to them on that and then go get your list out and ask yourself these questions:
- Is it something I actually want to do?
- Will I regret it if I say yes? / Will I regret it if I say no?
- Will doing this bring me closer to my goals?
Asking yourself these questions (especially if you’re naturally a ‘yes’ person, will help you to get more discerning about how you spend your time.
If you come to the conclusion that this event is not for you, simply tell them straight up “look, it sounds great but it doesn’t really match up with what i’m trying to achieve at the moment” or “thank you for the offer but I have my heart set on xyz this weekend, rain check?”. People understand what it’s like to have goals and not having time to dedicate to them so they will totally understand and if they don’t that’s a reflection on them, not you. Be honest with them and be true to you.
As always, download and save this Monday Mantra Image to your desktop or phone or print it and pin it somewhere you’ll see it. When you see it, say it. And if you know someone who would also benefit from this mantra, please share it.