Imagine if you decided to order a food delivery but instead of it being delivered to your house, it was delivered to your neighbour. Your neighbour enjoyed all that delicious food without even knowing where it came from. For all he knows, it was just magic (maybe the Law of Attraction) where he imagined having something nice to eat and then, the doorbell rang. Meanwhile, back at your house, you are going hungry. You have taken the time to order the food, given the necessary details, paid for it and still, you have to stand idly by as somebody else gets to enjoy the spoils of your efforts. Now, imagine that this was a regular occurence. Would you settle for that?
Of course you wouldn't. You would be straight on the phone to the food company, demanding that they rectify the situation either by refund or arranging a new delivery. You would probably take your custom elsewhere too, especially if it happened more than once. Anyone can make such a mistake once but repeatedly? You simply don’t have the resources to spend all your money feeding your neighbour while you go hungry.
Taking the action to complain and insist that it doesn’t happen again is setting a boundary and boundaries are essential for a happy and healthy life. Too many people refuse to set boundaries in their life because they don’t want to be viewed in a negative light. But that is the wrong way to view it. When you set a boundary everyone gains in the long-term. In my food delivery example:
There is a cost to not setting boundaries
It’s clearly not just food deliveries where boundaries are important. Boundaries are required in every area of life, both personal life and business. Many years ago, I learned this lesson the costly way in a company where I was working.
I was the junior member of the department and it didn’t take long for the manager to start delegating work to me. Fair enough. But once I started doing her work, the other members of the department started coming to me with work they “needed” me to do. I was incredibly naive and taught I was being a good team player so I did whatever they sent my way. The others were always polite and seemed appreciative so I thought I was getting on well.
However, when it came to my end of year review, I was in for a shock. In the review, our performance was measured against the goals that had been agreed for me at the beginning of the year. We were expected to achieve a certain score and I failed to achieve it. I fell just short. And I deserved to!
I had spent the entire year helping others to meet their goals by taking work off of their hands while I was failing to meet my own goals. As a result of my score, I had missed out on a €2,000 bonus which was a lot of money for a young man. Meanwhile, every other member of the department had gotten their bonus and two of them had even been promoted.
If I had set my boundaries and done so based on my agreed goals, I would not have taken on all that work. I would have protected my time and resources and been able to focus on my goals. The other members of my department would have learned that their job was their responsibility and they needed to manage their time and resources better.
I am a firm believer that when you are in a position to offer help to someone who needs it, you should do so. It feels great to help others. However, you must ensure that your own duties, responsibilities and obligations are met first. Only then are you in a position to help.
At the end of the day, we are here to live a life of service, not a life of sacrifice. Setting healthy boundaries will allow you to do just that.
My Life; My Rules
If you are having difficulty setting healthy and effecitve boundaries, learning to do so will drastically improve your life.
'My Life; My Rules: How to Set Healthy Boundaries' will teach you to do so.