It’s interesting how boundaries and balance work hand-in-hand. Balancing is choosing how you want to spend your time. Boundaries deals with deciding who and what you will allow to take up space in your life, what you spend your energy on, and when or for how long those things you do allow in your life can stay. Some of the ways that we lose ourselves is not only in deciding how we spend our time, but it is also about who and what we spend our time on. It’s important to set boundaries because it’s so easy to slip into a place where your energy and time is depleted leaving you with nothing for yourself.
A pivotal point in realizing I need to be firm in my boundaries happened late 2020. Someone reached out to me about Stock Options advice. She was one of my classmates in a Stock Options course last year. I had given her several resources to help her and I also host a Monday night Zoom session for us to share strategies and receive help. She asked if I had “10 minutes” to help her. I said yes. The 10 minutes turned into nearly 1 hour. Also, when I asked if she viewed information and resources that I shared with her previously, she hadn’t or said that she didn’t like the videos. I got off the phone annoyed and mad. I should have kept the conversation to 10 minutes because that is really all the time I had. This situation made me realize that there are people who do not want to work for what they want. They prefer someone to hand them the information for free, not do any work, or put for an abysmal effort. Sometimes it is at the expense of someone else.
I have a giving personality so I don’t mind taking the time to help someone who needs it, but it is up to me to be clear on my boundaries so that I am not taken advantage of.
Sometimes families can also be who you need to set boundaries with. Is the same person asking you for money after broken promises of paying it back? Does your mother give you unsolicited advice or is critical about how you should raise your children, your relationship status, or career choices? Do you have a friend who always calls to vent, but doesn’t take the time to listen to you? Do you find yourself dropping what you are doing or rearranging your schedule to accommodate other’s needs? Do your children inform you of projects and obligations at the last minute, causing you to have to drop everything to assist them? These are all areas where boundaries can and should be set. Honest conversations are important in relationships. If the relationship is important to that person, they should be willing to hear you out and respect the boundary that you are putting in place.
Here are two phrases to get you started:
“I cannot do that right now, but here are the times I am available.”
“I am not available to take that on right now, but here is a resource that may be able to help you.”
What have I learned:
People will only do to you what you allow. My need to set boundaries has to do with allowing people to waste my time or take more time from me than I have. When I am clear about what I can and cannot do, I am happy and at peace.
I have to be disciplined in saying no. My first reaction to when someone comes to me, is to figure out how I can make it work. This often happens as the expense of my time or mental energy.
How can you use Balance to make yourself a priority:
Make it clear to those around you what you can and cannot do. This may be uncomfortable initially especially if you are used to finding a way to do it all for everyone. Here is your permission to stop.
No is a complete sentence. You don’t owe anyone an explanation of why you can’t do something.
Set your schedule for what you need and want to get done. This will allow you to see when and if you are able to fit in time for others. It’s your schedule, your choice and it is up to you on how you want to spend it.