The Powerful Art of Setting Limits in Life

We need boundaries to move forward in life. Whether it’s our health, our professional life, or our personal development, boundaries are essential. On this basis, here is a no-nonsense guide to the art of setting limits in life. 

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Today’s society tends to cringe at the idea of setting limits.

The sky is the limit. You should dream big. Don’t stop yourself from achieving great things. 

There is nothing inherently wrong with these statements, but they ignore an essential factor. Focus and prioritization are the keys to advancing in life.

Why do we need limits in life? 

The problem with rejecting the concept of limits is that you try to explore every possible option. And this never-ending search for alternatives will prevent you from pursuing the most important one with determination. 

In this context, bestseller author Greg McKeown characterizes limits as one of the most critical aspects of his essentialist approach 

Only once you give yourself permission to stop trying to do it all, to stop saying yes to everyone, can you make your highest contribution towards the things that really matter.

Consequently, setting limits is about directing your time, energy, and money toward the right areas – helping you achieve more when it counts. 

The Powerful Art of Setting Limits in Life - bridge leading to sea in Australia
Photo by Syed Hadi Naqvi on Unsplash

Where you should set limits

In practice, limits are useful in various aspects of life. The following are five primary areas in which boundaries can help you achieve more. 

Eating and drinking limits to improve your health

The first area in which limits serve a significant purpose is food intake. 

In this regard, taking some inspiration from Eastern philosophies – especially Taoism – is a pathway to health and strength. 

The Taoists advocate two nutritional tactics: limit your intake and only combine foods that your body can easily digest together. 

In his 1989 bestseller The Tao of Health, Sex, and Longevity, Daniel Reid writes the following:

Eat sparingly, and you will live a long and healthy life. The basic Taoist measure is to eat ‘til you are 70-80 percent full.” 

The primary idea is straightforward: use limits to improve your health. You don’t need to be a nutritional expert. You just need to listen to your body. 

Don’t eat until you a full. Refrain from eating too many filling foods together. And finally, set limits on how much you eat at specific points in the day. 

The concept of limits works well in every aspect of nutrition. Whether it’s meat, fat, carbohydrates, or alcohol, bolster your health and immune system by sticking to boundaries. 

Spending limits to boost your finances 

We live in an age of one-click shopping, ubiquitous convenience stores, and fast fashion. 

By themselves, low-quality, mass-produced items seem cheap. However, it’s not the individual product that will dig a hole in your wallet. It’s your long-term consumption behavior. 

Setting limits is crucial when it comes to spending. In practice, three steps can help you find the right boundaries for your spending:

  • use intentional consumption norms to determine whether items add value to your life;
  • define specific days on which you spend money on non-essential goods; and 
  • set monetary limits for different categories of purchases – like clothes and delivery meals.

Personal boundaries to have better relationships

Most relationships fail as a result of lacking limits. 

No matter if it’s a romantic relationship, a professional connection, or a long-term friendship, boundaries are essential. 

When people don’t establish clear rules for their relationship, problems arise. 

First, both parties suffer from a lack of predictability. They will never know what the other person will tolerate because there are no well-defined boundaries. 

Secondly, a lack of limits will inevitably shift the balance into one direction. 

Let’s take the example of a couple in love. 

During the honeymoon period, nobody wants to criticize or correct the other. As such, people accept more chores, commitments, and flaws than usual. After a while, however, our genuine personalities shine true. That’s the point when not setting limits from the get-go will jeopardize the romance because we won’t overlook the relationship’s problems anymore. 

In any relationship, determining unequivocal boundaries is the secret to maintaining long-term success. You’ll know what the other person can or cannot take, and the other person will be aware of your limits – forming a relationship based on mutual respect. 

Professional boundaries to work efficiently 

Aside from your personal life, limits are critical at work. 

No matter if you’re an employee, a self-employed freelancer, or an entrepreneur, no career will progress without work-related boundaries. 

As an example, we all know the co-worker who cannot say no to new assignments. That person desperately wants to be a team player, preventing him or her from saying no. The consequences almost always involve excessive stress levels, low-quality output, and anxiety.

In the words of Forbes, you need: 

healthy boundaries at the office so you can work smarter, gain respect, and increase your productivity.

Before starting any professional endeavor, get together with the people involved and discuss boundaries. 

How available do you have to be? Are the goals realistic? And most importantly, what are your priorities? Clarify your limits and find out whether the other party can live with them. 

General priorities and limits for your personal growth 

Finally, setting general limits is a substantial element when it comes to prioritization

If you want to organize your lifestyle according to value-driven priorities, you need limits. 

When it comes to defining yearly goals, don’t try to accomplish 100 things at once. Focus your goal-setting techniques on the most impactful, on work your way up from there. 

Let’s take the example of making money online. Making 20,000 dollars in your first year is not realistic. Aiming for 1,000, on the other hand, is. Your first limit can be 1,000, and you’ll increase it as you progress.  

The point is to start small by setting an achievable limit and adapting that limit along the way.  

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