How do you set boundaries at work without jeopardizing your career?

LIMITATIONS | Do you keep taking on all the extra tasks your boss gives you, even when you're on edge? When your workload exceeds your capacity, it can lead to anxiety, stress and even burnout.

Article by Caroline Castrillon for Forbes US – translated by Flora Lucas

According to a recent Future Forum Pulse report, burnout due to stress in the workplace has reached an all-time high, with 42% of the workforce saying they have experienced burnout, with women particularly at risk. Women burn out faster than men because they also have household responsibilities (in addition to having a full-time job). Even women who are breadwinners do more unpaid work, such as housework and child care, according to an eye-opening study by the Pew Research Center. When you combine a greater burden at home with a lack of boundaries at work, it's easy to understand why many women struggle to keep their heads above water.

Fortunately, you don't have to agree to every request from your employer to maintain job security. By following these tips, you'll soon be able to turn a “yes” into a confident “no” without jeopardizing your career.

Change the way you think

The first step in setting boundaries is changing your mindset. Setting boundaries is not selfish. It is a necessity. Instead of giving your power over to your boss, take it back by setting healthy boundaries. Boundaries are imperative because they create safety, protect your well-being, promote healthy relationships, and boost your self-esteem. Without them, you risk feeling exhausted and resentful. A life without limits is a life without the respect you deserve. Once you recognize your right to express your needs directly, you are ready to take the next step.

Define your priorities

Before you set boundaries at work, define your values ​​and priorities. Ask yourself if they have changed over time. For example, you may have gone from having no children at home to raising twins in the span of a year. Or you find yourself caring for an aging parent. Another priority may be your own well-being. Have you suffered from insomnia and headaches due to stress at work? If a lack of boundaries at work is causing serious health problems, it's time to make immediate changes.

Set your boundaries

Once you've defined your values ​​and priorities, it's time to set your boundaries. To start, mark your boundaries as hard or soft. Hard limits are those on which you refuse to compromise. Soft constraints are flexible. They are considered a “nice to have” rather than essential. For example, if you have to spend the evening with your children, you may prefer not to check your email after 6 p.m. If an urgent professional matter comes up, it can be considered a soft boundary. Let's also say that your mother needs you to drive her to the doctor every Monday and Wednesday. This means you will need the flexibility to adjust your schedule or work from home on those days. Since you consider this liability to be non-negotiable, this may be a strict limitation for you.

Communicate and be consistent

Work boundaries should be stated clearly, assertively and often. Explain not only what your limitations are, but why you need them. Be honest so that your manager and colleagues understand your point of view. Also define your terms. For example, if you don't want to be contacted while you're on vacation unless it's an emergency, define what an emergency is. Finally, your boundaries will inevitably be violated at one point or another. When this happens, fix the problem immediately. Speak honestly, explain to the person involved what the problem is and how you want to proceed. Although you may be uncomfortable at first, it is better to enforce your boundaries in the moment than to wait.

Practice saying no

If you don't feel comfortable turning down an assignment, that's okay. Sometimes you just have to practice. Start by testing your ability to say “no” in less intense situations. For example, say no to a street vendor who tries to sell you something, or tell a friend that you won't be able to come to her party. You can even imagine scenarios and practice at home. Here are some examples of appropriate ways to say no in a professional context (without using the word “no”):

  • “I would love to join you at the conference, but this week is my daughter's birthday and I can't miss it. »
  • “Unfortunately, those days catch me. Can you send me other times to make an appointment? »
  • “Thanks for thinking of me, but my boss asked me to prioritize two other projects before accepting anything new. »

Setting boundaries at work is essential to long-term well-being and career success. When you ignore them, you give up your power. On the other hand, when you strengthen them, you teach others how to treat you.

Also Read: The Forgotten Art of Entertainment: Why Is More Entertainment a Good Thing?

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