Skip to Content

Ways to Set Boundaries in Your Personal and Professional Life

Save this post to read later:

We hear a lot about the importance of setting boundaries, but defining and enforcing our own boundaries can be easier said than done. Boundaries are about setting limits and rules for ourselves within our relationships with other people, managing your reaction to another’s behaviour and, just like a physical boundary, are designed to keep you safe.

Establishing healthy boundaries demonstrates that you value your own needs and emotions. While you can’t control other people, you can control how you respond to a given situation. 

Setting boundaries can be quite difficult for some – whether it is through fear of confrontation or rejection, being a people pleaser, having low esteem or simply that they don’t know how. 

Some examples of personal boundaries

  • Emotional & mental boundaries. These allow you to have your own thoughts and emotions and the right to be able to express them without being criticised or invalidated. 
  • Physical boundaries. These allow you to have your own personal space and a right not to be touched. 
  • Sexual boundaries. These allow you to have the right to consent and be touched how you deem appropriate.
  • Religious and spiritual boundaries. These allow you to have the right to believe in what you want and worship in the way that you choose. 
  • Time boundaries. These allow you to spend your time how you see fit. 

Do you have difficulty in setting boundaries?

8 simple ways to set boundaries in your personal and professional life.

Boundaries are about setting limits and rules within our relationships, managing reactions to another’s behaviour and are designed to keep you safe. Here are 8 ways to set boundaries in your personal and professional life.

1. Analyse your current life

Look at the boundaries (and similarly, lack of boundaries) that currently exist in your life and the areas that you are experiencing problems and issues that you wish to change. Decide on the boundaries that you WANT to have. 

2. Start to learn the power of ‘no.’

Start saying no. Be polite, but direct in your no and offer no explanation.

Look at these two different ways of saying no:

  1. Thanks for the invitation, but I can’t make it.
  2. Thanks so much, I really want to but I can’t make it. I’m really sorry, it has been such a busy week and I have lots of things to get done the next day so I really need to get some sleep. I hope you’re not annoyed with me. 

The second explanation implies that you aren’t allowed to spend your time how you want to and that you have let someone else down. An invitation to go somewhere is not an obligation, and you are not required to give an explanation. Similarly, when someone comes to you with a request, take a moment before responding to consider whether it’s something you truly want and are capable of doing.

3. Expect some negativity

If the people in your life are used to you being a people pleaser, many of them are likely to respond to your new boundaries in a negative way. For example, if a friend often calls on you for last minute ‘favours,’ they may become upset when you are no longer available. Try to avoid taking this personally – you are not responsible for their reactions. 

4. Block out your time.

Whether you are at work or home, setting blocks of time when you cannot be disturbed sets a boundary that gives you space to work, collect your thoughts or simply breathe. Make your family and colleagues aware of this time needed – it may be more difficult to do this in the workplace, but a simple “I need about half an hour to get this finished and then I will…” is often very effective.

5. Set working hours and stick to them

Once you have finished your working day, avoid checking emails after hours ‘just in case,’ or taking calls late at night (unless it’s a genuine emergency). You personal time is your own and this needs to be respected. 

6. Value your ‘me time’

If you have made plans for spending Sunday afternoon doing something that you enjoy, don’t feel obliged to spend time with a family member or friend who wants to invite themselves round. Remember, you and your needs are important too.

7. Be quick when setting boundaries

Make your physical and personal space boundaries clear as soon as an issue presents itself. Nobody should place their hands on you or get in your personal space without your consent. It may be difficult in the beginning, especially if you are used to just letting things go unsaid, but it will get easier and people will learn your boundaries if you response quickly and consistently.

8. Be accepting

Accept differences in the boundaries that you will have with different people. Different relationships require different boundaries; accepting this allows you to set yours accordingly. Your boundaries with your spouse, for example, will be very different from the boundaries you set with your friends. Similarly, respect the boundaries of others, and they will be more likely to respect yours

Remember that setting and enforcing boundaries takes time, so be kind to yourself and to others while going through the process. Setting boundaries is nothing to be scared of or feel guilty about.

A boundary simply defines the space where you end and another person begins, and it’s up to you what shape that takes. Setting boundaries is a healthy way to manage our interaction with others, whether personally or professionally, and, done well, can change your life for the better.

Save this post to read later:

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.