When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.– Wayne Dyer
I never really thought about the benefits of establishing boundaries until a couple of years ago when my husband asked me a simple question, “how much of your time spent in the day was on things you wanted to do?”
My answer to that question after some thought was “none.” Then I had to dig deeper and figure out what did I want to be doing. I was showing up every day, not mindful of why I was doing what I was doing. I was handing the keys of my life over to the external world to be the driver. It wasn’t a fulfilling or productive place to be. Honestly, it was draining.
I started to research more effective ways to take my life back and get back into the driver’s seat so that I could live more meaningfully. So that I could give more of my best self to others while feeling full, not empty.
Here Are 7 Essentials for Setting Boundaries to Live More Mindfully and Meaningfully:
Be Clear on Your Intention
I have found that I needed to step back and ask myself, “What do I REALLY want out of life, today, this meeting, etc.?” and “What is truly important?” Finding your true intention takes some time and practice as it should be a connection to a higher purpose, your heart, and your values to be meaningful.
You can start small if you haven’t considered this before. The key is to start noticing your intention and evaluate if it aligns with what is truly important to you. Some examples may be to connect with others, to be sincere, to keep an open heart and mind, to find more peace and freedom, and so forth.
Take Your Morning Back
Spending the first 30 to 60 minutes of my morning reflecting on what is most important, and doing something for myself helps keep me centered. Some centering activities are appreciating nature, meditating, and exercising.
The worse thing I used to do was check my email right away. I found that doing this all of a sudden gives power to everyone else’s needs and priorities. It became easy to forget what is important to me.
Before checking email or starting my day, I now try to set some goals of the top two or three things I would like to accomplish to stay focused. I would recommend no more than three and make them visible! You can make them visible by writing them on a whiteboard, putting it on a post-it, or setting a reminder on your phone.
Decision Making Criteria
As distractions come up, it is essential to have some decision-making criteria to be able to establish and hold your boundaries properly. The decision-making criteria can link back to your intention, your goals, and just a simple question, “Does this serve me and what I care about?”
Grant Yourself Permission to Say “No”
I don’t know how many times I have found myself in a situation where I wanted to say no but didn’t. In some cases, this is where resentment can take over. Saying yes and being resentful doesn’t serve anyone. Sometimes the compassionate thing to do is to decline an offer if it doesn’t benefit you or align with your true intentions.
Reminding myself that my needs matter, and telling myself it is ok to say no has been instrumental in pushing through the discomfort. Getting used to saying no does take practice but it does get more comfortable with time.
Give Yourself Space
It is crucial to allow yourself some space or downtime to recharge to keep the day or other people from taking over. Scheduling downtime slots and instituting some rules throughout the week are excellent ways to ensure you maintain space. It is also important to let those around you know about the conditions where you need space.
An example of some rules is no cell phones while eating, no commitments on Sundays, no phone checking after 8 pm, etc. As you think of your own rules, you can even come up with some exceptions. Play with what works for you and your life.
Effectively setting boundaries is a learning process. Reflecting on how much you are focusing on what matters can assist in continuing to strengthen and adjust your boundaries. It can also help identify a violated boundary that you may not even be in your awareness.
As I mentioned, this takes time and practice. It is not easy, but I find it is vital to being more productive, feeling full of life, and giving your best self back to the world.
These are the seven essentials for successfully setting boundaries. What are some others you have found to be helpful? Please share them with us in the comments section below!