Programme: Young Professionals

6. Setting your Boundaries

Many young professionals feel that it is very important that they make a good impression. Perhaps you feel keen to demonstrate what your capabilities are. You want to make sure that you are visible, that you show initiative and that you take a proactive approach. Many organisations will value these qualities and will be happy to make use of your energy and new insights. If you are asked to take on extra tasks, it can be very difficult to say ‘no’. You may have also experienced this in other areas of life. Perhaps you don’t want to let somebody down, or you want to demonstrate that you are a loyal friend.

But sometimes it is necessary to set boundaries. Being overly ambitious is not sustainable in terms of your time or your energy and it will drain your reserves, which can lead to exhaustion and mental health problems. It is all about finding the right balance. Only you know what the right balance is for you as an individual; you can use this knowledge to set your own boundaries. How well-balanced do you feel right now?

It’s OK to say ‘no’. We often feel that it is an admission of weakness if we admit that something is too much. But is that really the case? If you think about it differently, you could see it as a strength! Think of all the positive long-term benefits you will enjoy if you resist the temptation to take on more than you can handle, as opposed to what is likely to happen if you fail to set boundaries. By setting clear boundaries you will also set a good example for your colleagues. Your boss and your colleagues will probably value it if you set clear expectations and you can stick to your agreements.
If you are not sure how to respond to a request during the coming weeks, try saying “I need to think about that. I’ll get back to you”. When we are asked to do something, we may sometimes say ‘yes’ because we feel put on the spot. Give yourself a moment so that you can make a more considered decision before you give your answer. 

Say Yes to No

Reflect & connect

Answer these questions and share your answers with your online psychologist, your partner and/or a friend:

1.Can you think of some situations in which you find it difficult to say ‘no’?
2.Have you ever said ‘no’ to a request? What did it feel like? And what were the benefits?

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