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Do You Have Healthy Boundaries at Work? Why They are Necessary and How to Implement Them

3 Things You Must Start Doing When You Become a Team Leader

Maintaining healthy boundaries is essential for your mental health, overall wellbeing, and avoiding burnout. Unclear or unenforced boundaries can often leave you feeling depleted, taken advantage of, or resentful. These feelings can be extremely harmful to your sense of self-worth and your relationships. Learning how to establish boundaries will ultimately protect your wellbeing. It will also help you to be happier and more successful, both at work and in your personal relationships.

What are boundaries?

Boundaries are limits or guidelines on how others can behave towards you. They are set to protect your physical or emotional needs and sense of peace. Setting and maintaining boundaries can be challenging for some, but like any skill, it can be improved with some practice. Boundaries are different for everyone and will come in many different forms. Here are some common categories that they fall into:


Maintaining emotional boundaries can be challenging but proves very important. Stating and standing up for your emotional needs can feel frightening, especially if it is not something you are used to doing. This just means you need to practice more until you get quite good at it. An example of setting an emotional boundary would be making expectations clear to a confidante. For example, “this is a vulnerable subject for me, and I would really appreciate it if itstayed between us”.

This makes your expectation of privacy very clear to those with whom you are sharing. And it provides the receiver with the opportunity to agree or disagree with the expectation. Additionally, a great way to show respect for the emotional boundaries of others would be to ask your confidante if they have the capacity to support your emotional needs at the moment, and to be understanding if they decline.


You want to be helpful. It is customary and understandable – whether at home or at work. You often fill up your schedule because you may feel there is no good reason to say no. But what you will rarely hear is that you don’t need a good reason to say no; all you need is the desire. In order to be truly helpful to others, you need to be in a good place, which means you need to protect your time. Filling up your schedule to the point where you have no time for yourself or activities that energize you is how you become depleted. If you spread yourself too thin, your personal happiness will suffer.

It’s important to remember that your time is extremely valuable, and finite. You only have so much of it and need to spend it wisely. One example of protecting time boundaries would be to identify the things that make you a happy human. Then create a schedule that makes sure those needs are met. You need eight hours of sleep, to exercise, to eat, to spend quality time with people you love, to write or read or (insert your favorite thing to do here). You have needs, and you are the only one who will defend or enforce them – so build them into your schedule and make them unmovable. Once you have your list of non-negotiables, you’ll be able to determine how much time you have leftover to assist others with their needs.


Physical boundaries have to do with protecting your personal space, your privacy, or your body. It’s essential that you stand up for your needs with regards to your own personal space, and that you respect the needs of others. Requesting and maintaining your own personal space has never been more acceptable or understandable than it is currently. This could be used to your advantage.

The pandemic has gotten you out of hugging strangers and awkward high-fives, so with the bad comes some good. But you will still need to state any other physical boundaries that make you more comfortable. An example of asserting a physical boundary could be walking away from your workspace to grab some lunch, in order to clear your head or get some fresh air. It may also look like keeping your personal space organized in a way that helps you feel at ease.

What boundaries are not?

Boundaries are not selfish. Protecting your well-being is not selfish. Sometimes setting boundaries might mean declining to give help or your time to others, and this may, at first glance, seem selfish. However, ultimately, it’s exactly the opposite. To understand why, consider the oxygen mask principle. When you’re on a plane, they always advise you to put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others, even if you are flying with small children. And why is this? Because if you don’t put on your own mask, you will run out of oxygen. Then you will be no help to anyone. The same idea applies: if you don’t look out for your own needs, your ability to function and realize your own happiness will suffer and you will be of no help to others.

How to start protecting your boundaries:

Start paying attention to your needs.

When life gets busy, it’s easy to forget about your own needs. But a little bit of self-reflection goes a long way. Your emotions are a very powerful indicator of what your needs are. When a situation causes you to feel a strong emotion, take note of it. You could be feeling upset that someone used a rude tone, stressed because you don’t have enough time to complete a project before a deadline, or happy that someone asked you before sharing an emotionally charged story. These emotions are all tools that help you understand what’s needed to support your own wellbeing.

Determine what your boundaries are.

Once you’ve gained a better understanding of what your needs are, you’ll be well-prepared to determine what boundaries you should implement in order to support these needs. You will likely know that a certain boundary is necessary when the idea of having that boundary provides you with relief. For example, if you’ve noticed that being pushed for time is causing you distress, this is a sign that you should implement some time boundaries. Maybe this means being more disciplined about staying on track, letting colleagues know that you won’t respond to work calls or emails after a certain time, or saying no to meetings or projects that are not essential.

Assert your boundaries.

This is arguably the most difficult component of setting boundaries. While it’s sometimes easier in the moment to just “let things go”, it’s much healthier, in the long run, to advocate for your needs. Being firm with your boundaries will ultimately have positive effects on your life and your relationships with others. For the best results, make sure that when you state your boundaries, you do so from a calm and grounded place. Additionally, make sure that you are direct. If you aren’t direct and firm in stating your boundaries, it will be difficult for people to understand what they are and whether you are serious.

Remember that being assertive and instituting boundaries does not mean that you are being rude or mean. As long as you are being respectful of others, you are well within your right to stand up for yourself. Advocating for yourself can be very difficult, especially if you’re not used to it. It may be helpful to start with smaller boundaries until you feel more confident. The more you start asserting your boundaries, the more comfortable it will become for you and those around you, allowing you the peace you deserve in your life.

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Paternal Leave: Why You Should Take It, If Offered (and Push For It, If Not)

Parental Leave

Traditionally, parental leave was seen as a “mother’s issue”, but that is not the case anymore. Paternal leave is becoming increasingly common, and it’s a good thing for everyone. Here are some reasons why new parents should take advantage of paternity leave. Additionally, while this article focuses primarily on fathers in heterosexual relationships, it’s paramount to acknowledge that there are many types of families, and they would all benefit from having more family leave.

Better relationships with spouse and children

Paternal leave can have powerful and positive effects on families. Paternal leave allows fathers a bigger part of their children's lives from the very beginning. Studies have shown that dads having a more active role in parenting leads to better behavioral, social, and psychological outcomes for children. Paternity leave has also been shown to strengthen romantic partnerships, and even correlates with lower divorce rates. When both parents are able to take time off, they learn together how to navigate the new responsibilities of parenthood, together. This builds trust and understanding and sets up a strong foundation for their relationship as partners and co-parents.

Improved gender equality in the workplace

It’s well-known that women, on average, earn less than men and that this wage gap is especially large for women of color. A contributing factor is that women are disproportionately driven out of the workforce due to the caregiving expected from them. This also contributes to hiring bias. Employers may subconsciously choose a man over a woman expecting that the man will have fewer responsibilities at home. Normalizing paternal leave helps to level the playing field at work. Additionally, research shows that with every additional month of parental leave taken by the father, the mother’s earnings increase by about 7%. And mothers whose spouses take paternal leave tend to return to work more quickly.

Help fight the stigma that caregiving is a woman's responsibility

The idea that keeping house is a woman’s responsibility is obviously problematic and outdated. Caregiving is valuable and rewarding for people of all genders. In fact, qualities that are often strengthened during caregiving like empathy and patience are also qualities of great leaders at work. Studies have shown that dads who take paternity leave continue to have a greater role in housework and childcare long after they return to work. This not only contributes to better equality and satisfaction at home but leads to them being more well-rounded individuals.

Better work-life balance

Half of fathers say that they have missed out on important milestones and events in their children’s life because of work conflicts. Dads who take paternity leave often report better job satisfaction. Better job satisfaction allows them to be more productive at work and home. They also frequently report the time they spend at home is very fulfilling. While on leave, they don’t have to worry about missing out on important parenting moments. Paternity leave gives them the time they need to establish routines and get used to parenting. This makes it less overwhelming once they go back to work.

What prevents fathers from taking it?

Now that we’ve talked about the benefits of paternal leave, it’s important to talk about why not everyone takes it. Some of the main reasons are economic pressures and stigma.

Economic Factors

In the United States, the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 allows up to 12 weeks of job-protected (but unpaid) leave for specific family and medical reasons. Of course, with no source of income, it can be a challenge for parents to take much time off. Some parents even report fear of losing their jobs due to taking too much time off. That is why Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) is crucial. Many people are working to expand paid family leave. This would allow both mothers and fathers to take time off to raise their families without penalty. Celebrities like Chance the Rapper, Anne Hathaway, and John Legend are even joining the fight.

Social Stigma

The old-fashioned idea that men are supposed to be the sole breadwinners of the family may is outdated. However, it still leads many men to feel as though they shouldn’t take time off for family. What’s more, just 26% of managers encourage men to take leave. But choosing to take paternal leave, even if it is not already encouraged, is a huge step fathers can take in breaking the stigma. 73% of fathers believe there is little support for fathers in the workplace, and 72% of men said they would have taken longer parental leave if they had seen their co-workers do so.

Being brave enough to push for paternal leave at companies where it’s not already offered will help employers understand that it’s something employees value. This would be a huge step toward changing the culture. Plus, companies that offer paternal leave generally have happier and more productive employees. This shows that it is beneficial to the companies as well.

Taking paternal leave improves dads’ relationships with their children and spouse, leads to a better work-life balance, enables better gender quality at home and in the workplaces, and even benefits companies by creating happier and more productive employees. However, it is not universally accessible and there is still a stigma surrounding it. If paternity leave is offered at your company, you should take it. If it’s not, we greatly encourage you to push for it.

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How to Deal With Mid-Career Burnout

How to Avoid Mid-career Burnout_cover

Career burnout is a genuine phenomenon, with nearly two-thirds of full-time workers having experienced it at one time or another. Rates of burnout are particularly high when people are in the middle of their careers.

Professionals who were once energized by their jobs can start to feel drained and diminished by them. You deserve to have a career that inspires you, challenges you, is meaningful, and aligns with your values, but doesn’t take more from you than it gives back.

So, what measures can you take to avoid mid-career burnout?

Make sure your job serves you well

Choosing a position that will allow you to achieve your desired lifestyle is an incredibly important proactive action that will help you avoid mid-career burnout. Check-in with yourself:

  • What is essential for you in a job or career long-term?
  • What kinds of stressors you can handle and not handle?
  • What volume of work are you willing to take on?

Look for work that excites you and that you find meaningful. Also, consider how much autonomy a position will offer you. When researching, look for employers that are taking actions to increase employee satisfaction.


What burnout looks like

It’s normal to feel tired or overwhelmed from time to time, but if these states are dominating your life, it may mean that you’re reaching your limit. Burnout looks slightly different for everyone.

Burnt-out individuals may become apathetic about the outcomes of their work and have trouble focusing. They may feel constantly stressed, fatigued, or uncharacteristically bothered by small annoyances. They might notice that their performance is slipping.

If you notice some of these signs in yourself, it might be time to take action.


How to Avoid Mid-career Burnout

What can you do about it?

Be mindful of how you spend your free time

The activities you do outside of work have the power to either exacerbate or appease burnout. Some unhealthy habits may actually be contributing to your burnout more than you realize.

For example, you might think that mindlessly scrolling through social media is helping you decompress, when it’s actually eating up more time than you’re aware of and worsening your anxiety.

Spending time exercising, learning a new hobby, or with friends and family can be very rewarding and beneficial for your mental state.

That being said, it’s your time, and you can spend it, however, the heck you want to! Do what brings you the most delight and fulfillment. Regardless of which activities you prefer it’s critical that you’re active, rather than passive, in deciding what to do with your time.

Set boundaries

While it’s admirable to be responsible and to go above and beyond at your job, it’s important to notice when you may be taking on more than you can handle.  Being available for work 24/7 is very taxing, and if you take on too much it’s only a matter of time before your performance and your mental health start to suffer.

If you were the last person to take the lead on the last three projects, and you’re feeling exhausted, maybe it’s time to let someone else take charge this time. You may wish to have a conversation with your employer or your co-workers to clarify when they can expect you to be online, and when you are on your own time.

Ask for support

Mid-career burnout can be extremely frustrating and upsetting but know that you are not stuck and you don’t have to go through it alone.

Talk to a therapist, or ask for advice from friends who may have had similar experiences. It may also be helpful to express your feelings to your boss and explore ways that you can be challenged or supported in your position.

After all, employee dissatisfaction is not only harmful to the employee, but to the company as well. It is in everyone’s best interest that they hear out your concerns and help you make the changes that you need to.

Add joy to your workday

Whether it’s listening to your favorite playlist while you work, treating yourself to a delicious lunch, or focusing on the parts of your job that you find the most enjoyable, a little joy can go a long way in combatting burnout.

Consider a job change

If you’ve done everything you can and you still feel deeply unsatisfied with your current position, consider your options, and what it might look like to change jobs, or even shift your career direction.

If you decide that changing paths is what’s best, get specific about what you like and dislike about your current job. Use your findings to propel your job search and find a position that better aligns with your goals, strengths, and values.


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The Best Kept Secret of Top Performers

A common parallel among successful people is that they score highly in Emotional Intelligence. Even people who may not have the highest IQ can surpass their colleagues because of the ability to tap into their EQ to appropriately connect with those around them.

Emotional Intelligence (EQ) has been thought of as an aptitude, something you either possess or don’t; however, it seems clear that the science is pointing to just the opposite. In fact, there is much you can do to assess and improve your EQ, the critical factor to both personal and professional success.

EQ is a nebulous thing we all possess at differing levels that affects how we understand ourselves and through the lens that we practice self-management, social empathy, and relationship building. Because it is so nebulous it is difficult to measure and to understand what you need to do in order to improve.

The good news is that there are seemingly infinite resources to help with both of these tasks – first figuring out where you stand currently on the EQ spectrum and second to practice and learn to improve where you can. The following are two resources by highly recognized researchers, consultants, and speakers, Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves.

These books are a great introduction, assessment tool, and action plan toward greater abilities in EQ. There are also many online resources for assessments (paid and free) and skill building. It seems well worth the time to work on these skills as highly emotional intelligent people are the most productive and in turn the most successful.

High Emotional Intelligence = Top Performer = Career and Life Success

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