A boundary, by definition, is “a limit of a subject or sphere of activity.”
That word can give us the heebie-jeebies. We live in a culture that values freedom, independence and doing whatever we feel, and boundaries, by definition, are the opposite of that.
In our younger years most of us have boundaries set for us—bedtimes, curfews, playground rules and house rules.
Then comes college and adulthood when it’s up to us to set our own boundaries.
I remember my mom telling me about going to college and getting so excited because she realized she could eat as many candy bars as she wanted. While amazing in theory, we all know eating as many candy bars as we want would result in a nasty stomachache.
So what do boundaries look like as an adult, and how can we make them work for us and not against us?
Today, I’m sharing three boundaries that have changed my life for the better. Give them a try, and I believe they’ll change yours, too!
Boundary 1: Budget
I know, I know. Budget. I can hear the groans now. Few people love talking about budgets.
But, I’m here to tell you that you can rock a budget that will make such a difference in how you live and enjoy your life!
I’m not a “numbers person,” and I still struggle with Excel, but I use a budget and I love it.
To me, my budget isn’t so much about numbers as it is about the values of my life. Essentially, I set a budget so I can live the life I want to live. Here’s how it works:
- I want to be stylish: I set a clothing budget.
- I want to be generous: I set a gift and blessing budget.
- I want to travel: I set a vacation budget.
- I want to have a strong marriage: I set a date night budget.
- I want to own a home: I set a mortgage and bills budget.
I work hard to earn my money, and I want my money to work for me to help me build a life of meaning and fulfillment.
Where a budget can seem like a limit at first, it is actually a boundary that leads to incredible freedom. Before setting a budget, I felt guilty almost every time I spent money, and I wasn’t fully enjoying my life. Now, I look at my life and what is important to me, and I have the money make it happen.
Two of my favorite budgeting resources:
Boundary 2: Day of rest
You may hear “rest” and think, “This is simple, I know how to rest.” But for many of us, we don’t rest well or often enough.
We get moving so fast that it feels normal, and we start to live life at a pace we were never intended to maintain. Sometimes, it takes slowing down to realize just how rapidly we are moving through life.
I have one day every week where I rest. In the Bible, this principle is called the Sabbath. It’s a day that I take a break from the things that require my work effort throughout the week, and I focus on enjoying and soaking up my life.
At first it was hard for me to let go of my to-do list and my drive to constantly be productive. But ultimately, I realized no one was going to rest for me, and if I valued the quality and impact of my life, I needed to take better care of it.
Many people equate rest to sleeping. In reality, rest can be doing, just not doing what you do to earn a living. It should be a step away from the demands and activities of daily life to pause, refuel and focus on what matters.
So what does this look like practically?
- Turn off your phone for a day.
- Wake up without an alarm clock.
- Don’t check your email.
- Spend intentional time with the people who mean the most to you.
- Go for a walk.
- Read a book.
- Take a nap if you feel like it.
- Bake cookies.
- Go to your favorite restaurant.
Y’all, we need this.
If we don’t slow ourselves down, eventually our energy, motivation, and enjoyment will burn out, and we will be left with very little of the life we want to live.
If this concept feels like a hard thing to put into practice, start by trying a half day or a couple hours and see how you feel! Write down what rest looks like for you and go enjoy the things that inspire and energize you.
Boundary 3: Social media
Facebook started right before I entered college, and I still remember the first time someone told me they saw a photo of me on Facebook. I felt violated that my photo had been posted without my permission. Within just a few months, though, I was taking photos followed by a cheery, “Tag me!” Fast-forward to today where Instagram and I have become quite close.
I love so many things about what social media gives me, but it didn’t take long for it to start to do some damage in my life.
The more exposure it gave me to everything and everyone, the more I found myself facing insecurity and comparison. I measured the average parts of my days against the best parts of everyone else’s, and it left me feeling discontent and down.
This thing I enjoyed started to make me miserable because I was using it with no boundaries.
I finally realized (and have to keep reminding myself) that I have control over how I use social media, and I don’t have to let it make me feel badly.
I decided to have a vision for why I use it and what value it brings to my life.
So I created my personal social media boundaries:
- I use social media to connect with people, build relationships and encourage others.
- I use social media to find inspiration for creative projects and the life I want to live.
- I use social media to make an impact by sharing my own posts and liking and commenting on other people’s posts.
- I do not use social media to satisfy boredom or to “kill time.”
- I occasionally use social media as a form of entertainment, but only in small doses because that is the same slippery slope that led me to the miserable place of comparison and insecurity.
I’m not perfect at this, and sometimes I slip back into my old rut. But I am so much better than I used to be. Now, I use social media as a tool instead of letting it use me.
Your boundaries may look differently than mine, and that’s OK. The important thing is that you make the bold move to set boundaries in order to live your best life. It may feel hard or uncomfortable at first, but I promise it will be worth it.
I would love to hear what boundaries you have in your life that are helpful or what new boundaries you’re planning to start!