As the end of the year draws near, if you’re feeling increasingly exhausted, overwhelmed, unmotivated or burnt out – you are not alone!
It’s a good time to reflect on what has led to you feeling this way and put some practices in place to avoid repeating the cycle next year. Setting healthy boundaries can be a great way to rebalance your mental and physical health.
This month’s blog post is brought to you by B.OK wellbeing partner Dr Kellie Rose. Kellie helps executive women on the brink of burnout to restore their health and return to high-performance. She is a coach and speaker, with a PHD in exercise science and in this article she shares her top tips for setting healthy boundaries in 2024.
Over to Dr Kellie Rose…
No one is going to set our boundaries for us, they are our responsibility to define and uphold according to what we value and prioritise. For many, it can be daunting to set these ground rules, especially if it’s in a workplace context. Every role and industry will be slightly different in what’s possible, but for most people there is scope for improvement. Even the small things can make a significant difference when we do them consistently over time. For example, setting more manageable work hours, defining the number of nights per week we’re able to work late or take evening meetings, setting aside a certain time on the weekend to prepare for the week ahead and carving out that all-important time for our own personal health and wellbeing. I consider this the most important of all, because if we don’t have our health, we cannot perform.
If prioritising your health feels like an indulgent “nice to have” and not worthy enough to take up space in your calendar, then I have a question for you. How sustainable is your current pace of operating if you continue business as usual? Will you make it through Q1 2024 before grinding to a halt?
If we put our performance hats on and look at this through the lens of sustainability and long-term career success, it comes down to how well we can manage our energy over time. Boundaries can help us conserve our energy and enable us to continue delivering at our desired level of performance for as long as we want or need. To do this effectively requires us to say no to some things, and yes to others (including ourselves).
Being able to successfully set boundaries means we know what’s most important to us to prioritise. And therein lies the challenge. If the thought of setting boundaries is overwhelming for you, I have a simple exercise to help you get clear on what’s most important to you and where you want to place your energy. This becomes a daily decision-making framework and inadvertently, a boundary-setting tool (without having to utter the “B” word).
Create your boundaries using this excerpt from my Performance Lifestyle Framework:
Write down the top 4 most important life areas for you right now (these may change every 3-6 months or so depending on life context). For example, work, family, social, health, study, relationships, sport etc.
Take your top 4 life areas, and rank them in priority order from most important (#1) to least important (#4). When push comes to shove, you will need to prioritise one above the other.
To provide additional clarity and context, under each priority area write down 3-4 things that are non-negotiable about it (the things you’re not willing to sacrifice). For example, in the area of family, it may be school drop-offs or afternoon pick-ups, attending special school events, being present on the weekends/weeknights. For health, it might mean not sacrificing on sleep, or ensuring you get 30 minutes of exercise every day. Do this for each of your top 4 priority areas.
- Decision-making framework:
Now that you have greater clarity and insight over what you’re specifically prioritising and why, you can use this as your daily decision-making framework and surreptitious boundary-setter.
- Road test.
To test the efficacy of this framework, start putting it into practice with real or imagined scenarios of different magnitudes, to ensure you’ve got the rankings and non-negotiables set correctly. For example, imagine that you have been asked to take a late meeting at work tonight, but you also have your daughter’s music recital – which gets priority according to your framework?
Calibrate steps #2-3 as much as required until you have a framework that works for you (not everyone else, or what you think you SHOULD do. That’s an energy-drainer).
Our situations and commitments change through the course of the year, so redo this process whenever major shifts occur, so that you are always in alignment with what is most important for you and the goals you wish to achieve at any given time – both personally and professionally.
If you are keen to prioritise your physical and mental health in 2024, the B.OK Mind + Body Reset gift is a great option to supplement this practice and start the rebalance process. Don’t wait for someone to gift it to you, give yourself the gift of mindfulness!