How and Why to Set Boundaries
Setting boundaries is tough but necessary. Without boundaries, we lose control over our time and our
priorities – and it doesn’t feel good. I’m sure all of us have found ourselves in a situation where our
boundaries are being encroached – the easiest way to tell is to tune into how it makes you feel
emotionally and physically. What you do at that point of encroachment is key – do you set a boundary
and stand firm, or do you cave in and go with the flow?
Let me share a recent experience that illustrates how failed boundaries can lead to lost time. I met
someone at a conference who thought his/her business had a product that would be useful for Loretto.
However, Loretto was already purchasing a similar product from another company. I tried to explain
several times that we are pleased with the products and services from the company we’re currently
working with, but this person was undeterred – and I failed to end the conversation. Due to my inability
to set boundaries (I tried! It was a tough case!), I spent too much time conversing with this person and
missed out on the opportunity to network and communicate with others at the conference. It was an
opportunity cost to me personally, but also professionally – to my organization. Emotionally, I felt
irritated, and physically I fought the urge to jump up and run.
If you suspect you may need to set new boundaries, or revive old ones, here are a few steps you can
1. Tune into your feelings. Discovering that feeling of irritation is the first step.
2. Set and communicate your boundaries. It may be tough to be firm and stand your ground, but I
can assure you, it will pay off in the long run.
3. Finally, don’t beat yourself up when you fail to set or keep boundaries; instead, use it as a
turning point to give yourself a pep talk for the next time you’re in a similar situation.