Over the last several months, I’ve been chatting with a range of people behind the scenes about their relationship with work. Something that became immediately apparent is that most people don’t think that they can have work boundaries. And even if they do, just like boundaries in general, they don’t know what that means. And so, in this week’s episode of The Baggage Reclaim Sessions, I explain what it means to have healthy work boundaries and why they matter.

Update: There was an error with the link to the work boundaries newsletter I mentioned. Apologies. You can sign up here.

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5 key topics in this episode

  • Whether we’re conscious of it or not, so many of us have an attitude of whoever pays us money owns our boundaries and bandwidth. We forget that we’re exchanging intellect, labour, creativity, resources, talent, etc., for money and benefits (hopefully).
  • Part of having healthy work boundaries is about knowing our limits so that we don’t exploit ourselves or allow others to do that to us. But a big part of us not having boundaries in general, never mind at work, is that we’re repeating old patterns in an attempt to right the wrongs of the past. As a result, we treat the job, company, the work we’re doing or the results of it as if they are ‘mom’ and ‘dad’ that we have to please and perform for.
  • Remember, we’re not the only one who’s afraid of saying no and who’s making assumptions. When we, for instance, email colleagues outside work hours, some of them assume that they have to reply. There’s almost this sense with work that if it’s happening, it must be that it’s the expectation–and that it’s ‘OK’.
  • It may well be that who we work for or with engage in practices that aren’t in the best interests of our wellbeing. However, it’s also possible that no matter what job we’ve had, right throughout our work history, we have not said no.
  • We need to check in with ourselves. Is it that we’re working for or with people where no is unacceptable? Or is it that not saying no is our default? The former tells us that we’ll struggle to do this work in the medium to long term. The latter tells us about where we can be more boundaried from our side of the street.

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