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Creating Boundaries: 4 Ways To Give Life To Our Goals

As women, we are often drafted into drama, causes, and conflicts that we have not chosen for ourselves. Sometimes this comes naturally from our roles as daughters, sisters, mothers, friends, employees, or partners: the people we are in relationships with assume that because we care about them, that we will be able to come through in a certain way. This can lead to frustration and resentment over time, if we are not clear about our priorities and needs and able to say “No!” in a way that respects ourselves, within and alongside the relationship.

Working on our boundaries is an ever-evolving, lifelong process that looks different from day-to-day and person-to-person. Sometimes it feels better to just go with the flow of a moment and not worry about how things will play out in the long run. Other times, we need to step back and reassess what we really want in a relationship, job, or situation. What can we reasonably give, and what do we need to say or do to protect what is really important to us?

Here are four skills we can develop to set and maintain boundaries that will help us achieve our goals and enjoy healthy relationships:

1. Managing Time.

Creating a calendar or workflow can help us envision our daily, weekly, and monthly plans in a realistic way. Once we see how much time certain tasks or goals need, we can build a routine around them and start to follow it. This could be as simple as scheduling one hour in the mornings for a workout and shower, or setting aside two hours in the afternoon three days a week to catch up on a project or school assignment. Planning in advance and writing our tasks on a calendar adds structure to an otherwise chaotic day or month!

Remember to include travel time, along with extra time to prepare to leave the house (Anyone else suddenly think of five things you need to do when you’re trying to get out the door for an appointment?). Imagine how much calmer we can feel when we organize and give ourselves enough time to complete what we need to do in advance!

2. Using Social Media Mindfully.

Constantly exposing our brains to everyone else’s status can leave us feeling drained, overwhelmed, insignificant, and distracted. Setting boundaries around our phones and computers might look like:

- Turning off electronics at a specific time each night. This helps prolong battery life, plus it can improve the quality of our sleep!

- Using a timer or alarm to remind us after twenty minutes of scrolling a news feed. This keeps us up to date with current events, without letting them completely rule our day.

We can also practice logging on to a social network for a specific purpose, like contacting two friends, researching a recipe or hobby, or posting about an event or idea that will help us connect with our community. By being mindful of our online interactions, we can be more proactive and less reactive with our time and energy, and stay on track to reach our goals!

3. Communicating With Kindness AND Clarity.

It’s easy to assume that just saying "yes" will make people happy, keep the peace, and lead to our needs being met. We think that if we are generous with our time and energy, that others will reciprocate. Sometimes this is true, but sometimes people are oblivious to our goals and unique personalities. They might not have the capacity to empathize or imagine what we want or need, without us specifically asking for it. Learning how to navigate difficult conversations and negotiate in a way that builds respect and trust can help us stand up for ourselves while also giving time to others. When we practice the art of listening, reflecting back what people are saying, and creating space to identify both our needs and theirs, we can start to watch our relationships and goals flourish!

4. Recognizing and Relieving Stress.

Over time, stress can wreak havoc on our minds, bodies, and relationships. Learning to identify what we can and cannot control is one way to help us stay focused on what we can do to manage the stress in our lives.

If our commute to and from work is causing us anxiety, we already recognize that we can't change traffic patterns. What we CAN do is play our favorite radio station or podcast on the stereo. We can focus on breathing, staying calm, and driving well. Instead of letting negative thoughts steal our energy during rush hour, "This city is horrible, I hate ignorant drivers, etc." we can keep ourselves in balance and be ready for whatever comes next in our day.

Sometimes more change will be needed to manage stress. If we realize that a commitment, job, or another activity is draining the life out of us, we can start to brainstorm ways to approach a change that will serve us: maybe we need to ask someone to help us with a project, or maybe we can find another professional to support us with their expertise. Maybe we just need to adjust our schedule and find an extra hour in the day to do something fun. Instead of turning to unhealthy ways to escape a problem, we can use our personal power and resources to be creative and find a meaningful solution.

We can hire a coach to help us gain perspective and motivation. We can look for a different job or start our own company! We can step out of an organization or activity that isn’t aligned with our goals anymore. We can plan a weekend getaway with a friend or family member and come back with fresh energy.

Whatever the source of stress is, it’s important to remember that our internal dialogue (self talk) and the meaning we make out of an event will largely dictate our experiences. If we are constantly telling ourselves, “I can’t handle this,” then of course we won’t be able to find a solution, but when we say, “I am creative, I am strong, and I can figure this out,” we are well on our way to finding the better life we want and need!

Letting our minds and bodies relax and process stress could also look like planning prayer and meditation into our day, writing out thoughts in a journal, talking with a trusted friend or counselor, going for a walk in nature, listening to music, taking a warm shower or bath, stretching, dancing, gardening… the list goes on! Practicing this kind of self care sets us up for success in setting boundaries with others. When we cultivate this attitude of respect toward ourselves first, it can flow out into our relationships.

There will be times when we forget to plan or organize our time well, we will get sucked into a Facebook marketing funnel or news cycle, and we will lose our patience and end up yelling at someone we care about. Instead of deciding that this is how things are always going to be, let’s commit to practicing our priorities and develop skills that will serve us and the people we care about in the long run.

What stands out to you on this list? What’s one thing you would add to help us set life-giving boundaries?

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