The Discipline Of Boundaries


Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others.

Brene Brown

When I arrived at work yesterday morning, I took some time to write a “To Do List” on the white board behind my computer monitors.  The list helped provide a structure – a “document” – of some of the things I needed to get done yesterday.  As an operations manager at my company, my days can become chaotic as I deal with the natural interruptions of helping my team members.  Providing support to my team members is part of my job, and it comes with some disruption.  But there are also many things I have to get done in addition to the things that come up in the spur of the moment.  My white board “To Do List” is one of the tools I use to stay focused and productive throughout my day.  Before I left the office last night, I erased my white board and started my “To Do List” for today.

Yesterday, one of my team members came to me for some advice (and help).  He has several projects in his backlog that require his project management attention and design engineering attention.  I remember the feelings I had when I was in a similar position many years ago.  I often thought “Where do I start?” and “How do I keep all these plates spinning?”  My team member constantly gets phone calls from customers and installation staff with “urgent” requests for assistance.  This is a problem many project managers face, and the problem has only gotten worse in today’s “Gotta Have It Now” world where we are all connected instantaneously through smart phones and email.  We have conditioned our customers to expect an immediate response.  This isn’t all together bad.  After all, we want to bring a superior level of customer service to our customer base.  However, without appropriate boundaries, we set ourselves up for failure.  We will never accomplish the important things, because we are busy attending to the urgent things.

You may disagree with me, but I suggested to my team member that he shut his email and his phone off for a period of time to focus on some of the things on his “To Do List” that needed attention.  Before lunch and before the close of the day, he can turn them back on to check in on any messages that he may have received.  This will give him the chance to get work done and then to address any “urgent” needs of his customers.

We all need boundaries in our lives.  As a matter of fact, I would suggest we need to practice the discipline of boundaries in our daily lives.  Boundaries mean thinking through the list of goals you have and creating fences around your time and your commitments to make sure you can hit these goals.  Boundaries also protect us from going to unhealthy places in our lives.

I would challenge you to consider what boundaries you need to set in your life.  What needs to go?  What needs to stay?

How would your world be different if you made the decision to practice the discipline of boundaries?  How have boundaries made a difference in your life?