In today’s world, having a busy schedule is a given. Whether it’s serving on the board of a charity, working long hours, or just trying to find time to have dinner with friends, it seems that there is no shortage of events to fill up your calendar. The problem is that most of us have simply accepted our over-scheduled-ness as a way of life, and that has led to a generation of women who neglect themselves in order to fulfill the duties others ask of them.
There’s certainly nothing wrong with making commitments and keeping them. I have a very full schedule and life myself. What I find, however, is that most of us allow those things—the meetings and obligations—to take over. We forget to do the things that make us happy, to take time to renew our minds, to rest our bodies, and to rejuvenate our spirits.
Sadly, most women say yes more than they say no because they feel as though they are expected to be everything to everyone. They don’t want to appear weak or incapable. And in refusing to set those boundaries, they are allowing others to take advantage of them and treat them badly. Do you have clear boundaries set in your life? Or are you allowing obligations to others to take up your precious time and energy? Give careful thought to how you will allow others to work with you. Consider the following tips to help you get your boundaries in check:
- Be clear from the beginning. Setting boundaries has to happen at the beginning of any new relationship. Unfortunately, once you set the standard it’s nearly impossible to change. Make sure that you are clear with people—your boss, your employees, your acquaintances, etc.—about what you will and will not allow.
- Be deliberate. Think carefully about what it is that you want out of your relationships, both professionally and personally. Make deliberate choices about what you want out of those relationships and what you will commit yourself to. If it helps, try writing it down in an actual list to help you see things more clearly. It’s a great way to prioritize!
- Be where you are. When you’re out to dinner with your spouse, going for a run, or enjoying a cup of hot tea on your porch, turn off your phone, step away from your inbox, and let everything else go. If you allow yourself to be accessible all the time, people will try to get in touch with you—no matter what the day or hour. You need to have time to invest in yourself and your relationships. And you can’t give either of those the focus they deserve if your phone is ringing off the hook.
- Be confident enough to say no. It’s okay to say no, but it can be hard to actually say it. Feel confident in your choice to opt out of something or to turn down an opportunity. If it isn’t right for you, then there shouldn’t be any reason why you can’t confidently tell other people so.
- Be honest about why you are saying no. When we do say no, we often feel compelled to give an excuse along with our reply, and often that excuse isn’t entirely honest. You aren’t doing anyone any favors by being dishonest. In fact, the more honest you are about why you can’t or won’t do something, the better other people get to know you. You can’t expect people to understand your boundaries if you aren’t honest about them in the first place.
Remember, you’re not in this world to make everyone else happy and neglect yourself as a result. I challenge you to evaluate the commitments in your life. Which ones do you truly enjoy and value? Which ones are merely obligations you do because you feel you have to? Think about what you can feasibly cut out of your life so that you can start to re-invest in yourself. Embrace the boundaries in your life. I promise you won’t regret it.