Define Your Personal Boundaries and Focus on YOUR Priorities
When it comes to your time and your priorities…you’re letting people walk all over you. You just might not realize it. I’ll show you the basics of setting personal boundaries so you can get more of your stuff done.
You deserve to work on your terms, stay on your priorities and protect your precious time from both the demands of others — and your own self-sabotage.
What is meant by personal boundaries? Let’s take a look at an extreme situation that may not be so extreme for you and me as ADHD adults…
Personal Boundaries in Codependent Relationships
Do you know anyone who exhibits any of the following characteristics of being in a codependent relationship?
- They’re unable to put their own needs and feelings first;
- They don’t feel they have any rights;
- They fear that saying “no” will jeopardize their relationships and they’ll end up unloved or alone; and
- As a result, they have unhealthy — or nonexistent — personal boundaries.
No? Nobody you know? Allow me to introduce you to … you!
Now, this is not to make light of what can be very serious codependency issues in unhealthy or abusive relationships, or for those struggling with various kinds of addictions (as I once did).
But you don’t have to be psychotherapist-approved to have a few codependent tendencies, or to be living with unhealthy personal boundaries when it comes to your time, your priorities and your privacy — all of which are fundamental to your productivity.
You deserve to work on YOUR priorities, not just everyone else’s!
In this post I want to show you where your lines of defense are most porous so you can better guard your personal boundaries. Let’s begin with some…
Distinctions About Personal Boundaries
Unhealthy, one-sided relationships are underpinned and reinforced by a lack of healthy personal boundaries — the physical, emotional and mental limits we establish to protect ourselves from being manipulated or taken advantage of by others.
Now this sounds like pretty serious stuff, and it is in the world of dysfunctional personal relationships and mental health. But we can also look at these through the lens of productivity in day-to-day work or home life. Let’s revisit the key characteristics of codependents, put into the context of the workplace:
- They put other people’s needs and feelings before their own. In a relationship, this might manifest as a failure to attend to one’s own feelings and emotional well-being. In the context of work and productivity it’s putting other people’s priorities first, and you don’t get your work done.
- Codependents don’t feel they have rights — like the right to say no — to insensitivity or even worse. Day-to-day at work, you may not feel you have the right to say no to a bunch of things — a new project, another meeting, an arbitrary deadline.
- They believe setting or enforcing boundaries jeopardizes the relationship; they fear being dumped or not loved. In the workplace, you may fear not being liked or fear being laid off or somehow excluded (e.g., not getting a promotion or raise).
Where Do Our Personal Boundaries Come From?
To understand the reason you may be experiencing any of the aforementioned, it is instructive to understand where these boundaries come from.
For the codependent, boundaries were learned.
- From childhood: If you were constantly told to shut up, you learned that you don’t deserve to be heard.
- From adolescence: If your personal space was constantly violated, you may have learned that your body is not worth treating with respect. And so on.
But here’s the thing about your boundaries and your productivity: Something that’s learned, is also taught. And every day, as ADHD adults in the workplace and the home, we are teaching others what our boundaries are.
One quick example: I was recently interviewed on a podcast called Dudes to Dads. One of the co-hosts, a very successful e-commerce consultant, noted that he is so responsive to his clients that recently when he didn’t reply to a phone message within 30 minutes, the client got worried and called, emailed and texted, “Dude, are you OK?” That is what he taught his clients.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with great customer service, but training your clients or your co-workers or your boss that a response can be expected in minutes is going to be pulling you away from whatever your priorities are on a constant basis.
So, boundaries are a critical part of productivity and time management, especially for the ADHD adult. And there are countless areas where we can train others to respect boundaries of our choosing, from emails, phone calls and texts, to requests from the boss or your team to your kids or your spouse.
But we also can and must train ourselves to respect our own boundaries, too — around social media, negative thoughts, gossip and other BS.
So give some thought to where you might have some weak personal boundaries — both at work and at home; both with others and with yourself — and see if there are some opportunities to strengthen them.
When I think about personal boundaries, I’m always reminded of this great quote:
“If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you: Not much.” Jim Rohn TWEET THIS
As I mentioned at the outset, you deserve to work on your terms, stay on your priorities and protect your precious time from both the demands of others — and your own self-sabotage.
Remember, whatever’s in your way is yours to crush!
Alan P. Brown, an internationally recognized Productivity Coach, TEDx Speaker and #1 Best Selling Author of Zen and the Art of Productivity: 27 Easy Ways to Have More Time, Earn More Money and Live Happier is the host of Crusher™TV, where he and his Guest Experts share simple ways to get more done in less time with less stress. Follow Alan on Twitter and on Facebook.