Q&A Tuesday: On Setting Boundaries

This is a new feature called Q&A Tuesday - submit a question and I'll tackle a new issue each week!

QUESTION: I work in a field where I am totally unprotected - I can be fired "just because." Because of this and my 'old' people pleasing habits, I have trouble creating boundaries at work. I take on my boss' stress like it's my own and it impacts my mental health. What is a healthy way to set limits while not living in fear of losing my job, making my boss mad and protecting my own time and happiness? The stress from work comes home way too often.

-Submitted by Janette B.


ANSWER: So when I received this question I realized that having a feature like this is a really stupid idea. I mean, how can I tackle something this important and painful in a single blog post? Ridiculous. However, I love a good challenge, so here goes....

There's a lot of stuff beneath the surface of this question that I would LOVE to sink my teeth into. I would question the belief that you could be fired "just because."  Is that really true? I mean really, really true? Legal ramifications aside, living under the belief that you could be let go of a position at any time for any reason is a pretty horrible condition for working. How dedicated, creative, loyal or dependable could/should anyone be if they believe they are so undervalued they can be released on a whim?  ( Having said that, I have a hunch you are way more valuable than you are lead to believe you are. )

Why do we let people who don't love or care about us or hold us hostage in our lives into our inner sanctums? Why do we care about those who care so little about us?

This question comes down to setting clear boundaries in our lives and our work. We choose our boundaries.  Who is allowed into your energy? In my world, only those who love me, honor me, and care about my best interests.

I truly believe that we teach people how to treat us. If you allow your boss to encroach on your personal time and energy, especially out of fear of getting fired, you are teaching him/her that it is ok to do this.  If you answer emails that are sent to you at 11pm, the unspoken rule is you find this acceptable. Without boundaries, we feel internal resentment, stress, and anger.  

Anger is often a sign that personal boundaries have not been communicated and have been broken.  

The best way to move forward is to decide what your boundaries are going to be.  Work/life boundaries are going to be different for everyone.  The important part is that you and your boss understand each other.  Don't be afraid to have the conversation about what you need and what works for you.  If it's not mutually agreeable, it will be in your best interest to find another opportunity that is a better fit.  Communication is key here.  Talk it through.  Be assertive and honest. Be true to your highest good and you can't be wrong. 

No one deserves to be held hostage.  Life is way to short for that.  Choose your boundaries and then honor them. Your family deserves it.  YOU deserve it.  In the end, it makes you a better employee and a happier person. 

Please comment below on your thoughts for Janette...

Note: Names may have been changed to protect identities.