How to Honor Personal Priorities by Setting Boundaries

A Lesson in Priorities

Today at work, I was supposed to be in a training class at 12:30.  But I’m also conducting training classes all this week. I was helping wrap up a session I’d just finished, making sure that all the trainees had the resources they needed when a co-worker came running up, breathless.

“Steve, you have to come now. You’re late for training,” she gasped.

I looked up at the clock.

12:35 p.m.

“They sent me to come get you,” she panted, turning to strut away.  I followed.

I still needed to stop by a supervisor’s desk and touch base about one of the trainees on her team.  I was torn. I really did need to get to class if they were holding up the training for me.

As a trainer myself, I know how bad it is to start off behind the gun on the agenda.

Setting Boundaries and Honoring Your Priorities

Once I got to class, I began to think about urgency.  When my co-worker showed up and insisted that I come to class with her, I followed because she was insistent.

I really needed to go to the restroom and wrap up what I was doing first, but I followed her instead.

What are the areas of your life that you allow to be taken over by urgency?

Do you let go of your own priorities because someone else appears with an urgent demand for your time or energy?

Only you can set the boundaries on your own life and say, “Thank you for letting me know that. I have to finish what I started and I will take care of that as soon as I can.”

Only you can decided what is most important for you to dedicate your energy to. Only you can ensure that this priority is protected from others.

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Note: This post is part of the 31-post Ultimate Blog Challenge. During the month of July, 2012, I will be posting 31 times. Since this is a lot of posts over a short period of time, I prepared a special page where you can catch any you may have missed.

About Steve

Hi, I'm Steve Rice and my goal is to transform simple philosophical truths into practical fuel to revolutionize your life. It's not about self-help, it's about self-reliance. I show you how. Connect with me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter and let me know how I can help you.

  • Hi Steve! Setting personal boundaries is so important. When we feel violated – our time and space, usually it’s because we haven’t done this. I like your suggestion to
    say, “Thank you for letting me know that. I have to finish what I started and I will take care of that as soon as I can.” Seems we need a vocabulary for defending these boundaries once we set them, just as we need a vocabulary for saying “no”!

    • You are absolutely right, Lori. Sometimes we just have to be mentally prepared with a vocabulary to say “no” politely but firmly and the will to allow others to react as they will.

      I’ve been doing training classes at work this week. Today in one of the classes, some of the participants were irritated that the classes have a been going about 15-20 minutes long.

      Unfortunately, these classes are essential as we’re changing systems company-wide and everyone has to get trained in a short time. Although they were being paid overtime for the time that went over their scheduled class, they still became irritated.

      I learned that people will react in life exactly how they are going to and that I can’t control that. But I can allow them to vent the drama they’re creating and still go on with the priority or objective that I have. (Which is to get everyone trained).

  • So true, Steve! Boundaries are crucial – love your site!

    • Thanks so much for stopping by, Patricia. Hope you’ll feel like stopping by regularly and sharing your thoughts. 🙂

  • Kelly

    Thanks for this wonderful post. I am working on this issue with my clients. The nature of some of my services brings up the client’s ‘stuff’ and it is sometimes hard to cut it off. After an hour reading went almost an hour over (because it was a friend and also because she seemed to need her session,) I realized that this is a big issue for me. I have been working on it. Good to know I am not alone.

    • Wow…I completely empathize with you. I think those of us who are nurturers and healers (or teachers) have a struggle with giving “too much”…and by that I mean allowing others to overstep our boundaries of time or energy. It’s tough sometimes to draw that balance, but I always know when I have over done it because I feel a bit frustrated, resentful, etc. (And then usually guilty for feeling that way) 🙂

  • Good points, and I definitely agree with you about the importance of boundaries. On the other hand, I am a HUGH stickler for honoring commitments and that includes showing up on time. For most of my career I’ve been a trainer and everyone I worked with soon learned that not only was I early to arrive and available to greet attendees, I started on time whether there was one attendee or 100.

    • I’m with you, Marquita…100%! I’m not very tolerant of people who can’t be on time. It seems disrespectful to me.

      You especially have to be mindful of this when you’re running classes and have to respect other people’s time as well! Thanks for stopping by.