Episode 297 – How Boundaries Lead to Greater Success


Explore the power of setting boundaries to avoid burnout and learn actionable tips for communicating and enforcing them in this episode of the Reimagining Success podcast.

In this week’s episode, we’re tackling a crucial topic: boundaries. Inspired by Warren Buffett’s insight that hugely successful people often say no to almost everything, we’ll explore why setting boundaries is essential for maintaining control over our time and energy. We’ll discuss the pitfalls of overcommitting, the resentment that follows, and how we can take responsibility for our own boundaries. We’ll cover practical steps to identify, communicate, and enforce boundaries effectively, both in personal and professional contexts. By the end, you’ll have actionable insights to prevent burnout and foster healthier relationships. Join us as we reimagine the way we manage our time, energy, and commitments.

00:00 Taking responsibility for setting clear boundaries.

06:06 Be clear, firm, and kind when communicating.

09:50 It’s vital to overcome disempowering beliefs.

11:26 Set and communicate boundaries for empowerment and balance.

*Resources mentioned during the episode*
1:1 Coaching & Mentoring – If you’re looking for one-to-one support to help you achieve your specific life and business goals, Anna has a limited number of spots for individual coaching and mentoring. www.onestepoutside.com/coaching

Setting boundaries to avoid burnout

Warren Buffett has said that the difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything. And that really hits home for me as a recovering good girl people pleaser. It’s really tempting to say yes to over commit, to put other people’s needs before your own. But what happens then? Well, you’re going to resent having said yes to those demands. You’re going to blame other people because they’re the ones who, how dare they demand that you do this and tell you to do that and so on, forgetting that, in fact, perhaps we were the ones who allowed them to impose on our boundaries, which we hadn’t set clearly, which we hadn’t communicated and which we hadn’t enforced. So that’s the topic for today. Boundaries. Why are they so important in this context? And.

And how can we use them more effectively? So what happens when we don’t set boundaries? Well, we, as I said, over commit. We’ll not be clear on where we have that line that we want to draw. And so we don’t know when the to do list should be ending. We don’t know what is too much to commit to. We don’t know where we should be drawing that line. And so we just say yes, yes, yes, until we can’t anymore. Right. Until at the worst point, I suppose, we get burnout.

And best case scenario, we feel resentment. And I know Brene Brown has talked about this resentment to that other person, of that other person, I suppose, is the correct grammar for, again, for sort of putting ourselves into that situation. Even though there is an opportunity, and this is what we talked about last week, in terms of taking responsibility, there is an opportunity to have a more empowering, accountable view of this and to take responsibility for identifying clear boundaries, setting those boundaries, communicating them and upholding them. And so the first question is, okay, fine, it sounds great, but how do you set these boundaries right? And you need to start by identifying what your boundaries are. Maybe you don’t yet know what those boundaries are. It could be emotional boundaries. It could be how much of yourself you share in the workplace or on social media, for that matter. It could be how vulnerable you want to be within that context.

It could be really tangible communication boundaries. I was going to say barriers, but it’s not unrelated. It could be time, certain hours that you don’t want to be checking emails or working or responding to clients and colleagues and so on. It could be, yeah, the holidays versus weekends versus evenings, whatever that is. Right. So identify what your boundaries are, whether they’re time related, physical, emotional, communication or personal, whatever they feel they should be to you, then you need to be communicating them clearly and proactively. So you need to ask yourself, okay, who are the people who I’m currently blaming and resenting, who need to know what my boundaries are? Can you put, you know, some people have in their email signature, hey, by the way, and I had that the other day and I applauded them for this. And, you know, I’m only checking my emails at x times or I’m currently on leave, whatever that is.

Right? You totally respect that. That’s absolutely fine. People need holiday, people need to, you know, people are unwell. People don’t have to answer emails every second of the day, so communicate them, whether in an email signature, talking to your manager, talking to your colleagues, talking to your partner, the PTA or whatever it is, the organisation, the individuals you need to speak to, and then you need to be enforcing them. And what does that mean? Well, you’re going to learn how to say no, and it’s a tricky one, but you need to be really taking responsibility for this and being proactive in delineating those hard no’s. First of all, what is a non negotiable. Nope, sorry, never going to happen. Hell no.

Not even up for discussion. Right. That’s a non negotiable boundary for you. Super clear to yourself, super clear to your company, to your employer, to your team, to your partner, to your family, whatever that is, and then repeat as necessary. But on the other hand, if you have those non negotiable boundaries, you might also want to consider, and this is perhaps counterintuitive, but being softer and more flexible on the other boundaries, I have always found, and I say this all the time, that people are so respectful of boundaries. My clients, and thank you so much to those of you listening, are so lovely to the point of saying, oh, hey, I know you don’t work on this day, please ignore. I just wanted to send this and that’s absolutely fine. Right.

People say that on emails. One went viral recently as well. You know, I’m responding at a time that works for me. Please, you respond at a time that works for you. That’s, I think, a very human, straightforward, down to earth approach that we could all take. But people are very respectful of those boundaries. In particular. If we demonstrate flexibility, we are a team player, we can make exceptions.

If it’s a one off, it’s a massive project, a really exceptional situation. They’re absolutely open to, to, I would not say compromising, but to bending, flexing, making exceptions on those boundaries. But to do that, we need to be super clear with ourselves and with others on what is a non negotiable, hard no, never going to happen. And what is a okay, important. However, on exceptional occasions, that kind of thing I can miss or I can work a little bit later. I can do XYZ. Right. When you are enforcing your boundaries, learning to say no, you need to be polite, but you need to be firm, you need to be super clear.

It’s the same as if you’ve ever done a course on, you know, giving constructive feedback. You need to be straightforward and clear so that the person understands you. But you need to do so very firmly and not try to hide in lots of subtle nuances because it’s going to be missed. And one of the ebooks that I put together ten odd years ago when I first started coaching, was learning how to say no. And one of the key insights that I always tell people is there are alternatives to no, it’s not no, I’m a horrible person, I’m not going to help you. That’s not the answer. And by the way, I’m already putting a judgement on myself in saying that there’s a limiting belief which we talked about last week around, oh, if I say no, that makes me a horrible person. Let’s explore that in another time.

But I have that opportunity to say, oh, I’d love to help you, however, I can’t do that right now. Can you come back this afternoon? Oh yeah, I could do that. But can you first do XYZ? Here’s a link, here’s the information, here’s the place you need to go to person to talk to. And then once you’ve done that legwork, then we come together and I’ll give you perspective, feedback, add value. That requires more of the expert touch, whatever it is, or so it says, a yes but right or no but no. Sorry, let’s just take it a step back. Yes, but not right now. Yes, but do this first.

Yes, but next time you’ll need to do it yourself. That’s another one. Right? I did a workshop for a team of managers and someone will say, oh, but sometimes you need to micromanage someone. And we question that belief. But certainly if in the moment you need to step in, you need to teach them then how to fish for the future, rather than just having to step in and give them a fish every time, right? Because they’re never going to learn. In that case, for the next time, which is not good for you either. So yes, but on my terms. Or you can say no, but no, I can’t do this.

However, my assistant will help you, or my colleague. Actually, this other person worked with me on this project, so they can do it, whatever that is. Right? No, I can’t do it. However, here’s where you can find all the information. I’ve recorded a video for you. Here’s ten podcast episodes and a free PDF that will tell you exactly what you need to know on that topic. Or what could be another alternative? Another alternative between the yes and the no? Could be maybe let me first cheque my diary. Let me first cheque my other obligations and responsibilities before and can I come back to you, please? So, in fact, without the please.

Maybe so yes, but no but maybe, right. Quite a bit of space to reflect. Is it your top priority? Is it super, super important? How important is your relationship with this person who’s asking and so on, and be ready to make exceptions in exceptional circumstances, but be super, super clear on which boundaries are non negotiable. Now, the reason, again, coming back, we’ve gone into the detail there, but coming back to why we’re talking this topic of boundaries is resentment comes in when we don’t set and communicate and uphold those boundaries. Whether it’s our partner who you feel is not pulling their weight, or the colleagues who are taking the mickey, or your boss who’s leaning in. You know, I can blame a bad boss, a toxic work culture, annoying colleagues, lazy partners, whatever. But that’s not within our control. What is within our control is how we interpret that, whether or not we say yes or no, how we do so, how we manage our own time and energy.

And that’s really, really important. So if you did miss last week’s episode, have a listen. Again, we’re talking about exploring those stories and limiting beliefs that are disempowering you and outsourcing, really, decision making to external circumstances or other people. And an important part of that then, is that you need to say no. You need to choose where you’re going to put your time, energy and attention in order to have those clear boundaries in place and not then feel the resentment and blame that can so easily come further down the line. So if I’m in a situation where I’m in a difficult job context, for whatever reason, I know it’s temporary. What can I do in the meantime? To take care of myself, to protect myself from being dragged down too much, from being drained and burned out and having health issues and completely missing all the important things in my family, at home and so on. And then, of course, ultimately, what can I do further down the line once I’m out of this crisis moment? What can I do later on as well? But often, almost always, there’ll be something that you can do.

I could say no next time. I can be resentful that I’m working late on a client project, but I can also take responsibility and go. First of all, I could have said no to that project because there were lots of red flags to begin with. I could decide not to do such an amazing job as I’m doing, which is a choice, even if it’s not one that I want to make. And I can choose to, you know, deprioritise something else. I don’t know, go to bed early so I can get up early the next morning, whatever it is. Right. There are always choices to be made.

So what are your boundaries? Identify them, communicate them, enforce them. Be clear on what’s non negotiable and what is flexible. And I think this is going to be really, I know this is going to be really powerful for you. If you can really put these in place again, personally, at home, with family, with friends, with work in particular, of course that’s going to give you back the reins a little bit in terms of feeling on top of your workload, being able to carve out that time to work on the strategy, the deep work, the personal development and so on that perhaps you haven’t had the time and energy to, to do recently. So I hope that was helpful. Went off a little bit on a few different tangents there, but have another listen again. And of course you can. Let me know if you have any questions.

See you next week. Bye. For nowhere.


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If you’re looking for one-to-one support to help you achieve your specific life and business goals, Anna has a limited number of spots for individual coaching and mentoring.


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