song: sunset lover by petit biscuit
read time: 8.5 minutes
i am just going to throw it out there—
the secret to seeing your dreams come true is setting up boundaries.
okay, don’t stop reading. keep going.
honestly, i feel like this word doesn’t have the best reputation. let me explain— i think “boundaries” always makes people feel like they can’t do things or that they are limited. when you are ten years old, your parents set up boundaries of how long you can watch tv. when you are fifteen, the government sets up boundaries of who you can drive around town in your station wagon. when you hit college — you start experiencing a little bit a of freedom because you are no longer under the reign of your parentals and their “boundaries”, but you still have a few boundaries that your university sets in place. if you went to a college like mine, you had boundaries of how late you could stay out at night or when boys were allowed in your dorm room. (it was a christian college— that’ll explain it all!)
i think from a young age, we are self-trained and conditioned to think that boundaries restrict us from doing things we want — like binge watching saved by the bell, piling all your friends in the back of your station wagon for ice cream runs, or staying out til the break of dawn before college finals.
in all reality though, whether we saw it or not back then, those boundaries were set in place to help us.
once you hit life after college— everything is like a joyride! there’s freedom and no boundaries. there’s no one to tell you what to do or that you can’t do something. for most of us, this is how we start our adult life— living in a euphoric freedom. no rules, no boundaries, nothing but just the wildness inside of us ready to break free.
for the first couple years— living like this is awesome. and arguably, to some extent, needed. *like i said, that was a statement that could be argued and challenged. don’t think too much on it. just go with it. the key phrase was “to some extent”.
once we hit a certain age / season though, boundaries must come back into play. but for so many of us— we never bring them back because we’ve told ourselves boundaries are a joykill. in all reality, we need those boundaries to come back, so that we can actually accomplish all the things that we want to do in this life.
if you’ve been reading my writings for a while, you’ve probably heard me talk about my habits when i first started working for myself. back in 2012, i launched into the deep waters of self-employment. i had no idea what i was doing, but i had watched my family do self-employment my whole life so i thought, “i got this!”
when i first started out— i slept in everyday, watched tv in the morning, met up with friends during the middle of the day for beach days or brunch, and you know — whatever i felt like doing— because, hey! i’m my own boss!
as time passed, i realized— “crap! i’m not accomplishing anything and i’m not getting any closer to my goals.” i began to hit a place of inner tension and frustration. i saw where i was and where i wanted to be and i was nowhere near my end goal. deep down inside, i knew that i was no different from anyone else in the world doing great things and that i had the same greatness inside of me. i just needed to figure out how to get there.
i decided to start setting up some boundaries for myself, and while it didn’t seem fun at first and i thought i was adulting so hard — i knew that if i wanted my dreams and ideas to actually surface into reality, then i was going to have to lay down the law (a self-made law — btw) for myself and set some boundaries.
i no longer allowed myself to sleep in until unspeakable hours. i started telling my friends that i couldn’t hang out between the hours of 8AM – 5PM. i limited how many times a week i went out to dinner with friends. i put a cap on how many coffee dates i went on with new people that i met from social media, church, or random outings.
at first, it seemed so lame to be setting boundaries like these in my twenties. i kept thinking to myself “these are the days of my youth, my single days, my baby free days, and the last sprint of “i can do whatever i want” days.”
i think that’s how a lot of us justify our lack of boundaries.
but here’s the thing — i got to the point where yeah, i was hanging out and having a good time with people, but at the end of the day—i wasn’t feeling fulfilled. at the end of the day, i knew that fulfillment would come from actually accomplishing the goals that i had for myself and seeing my dreams become my reality.
the shift wasn’t easy.
in fact, i felt really bad when friends wanted to grab a quick lunch and i had to tell them “i can’t”. at times it was even awkward because, hello! i’m my own boss— it’s not like anyone was telling me i couldn’t go. i was telling myself i couldn’t go and everyone knew that.
as time passed, i realized that as i was intentional to set boundaries (and keep them), i was actually able to start accomplishing my goals and actually living the life i wanted to live. yeah, i had to sacrifice hanging out a couple times a week — but the little sacrifices here and there led to great rewards. the little sacrifices made the bigger picture come to life— traveling and working remotely from anywhere in the world.
as a society, i think we’re constantly on the prowl for ways to make more time in the day and how to squeeze one more thing into our schedule. i know i am so guilty of that. (i went to the bookstore last week and picked up chris bailey’s book, the producitivity project, for that exact reason.) but, at some point, we have to come to the hard realization that we only get 24 hours in a day — that’s not changing. we’re not super humans and there is a limit to how much we can do in one day. at some point, we have to come to the realization, that if we want to accomplish more then the answer is to start saying “no” to some other things.
i know, i know — that sounds dreadful. it sounds so limiting. it sounds so parental. it sounds so impossible, because we want to do it everything and don’t want to let people down by saying “no”.
i get it— i’ve been there. and, to be honest, i find myself at the crossroads of people pleasing and creating new boundaries often.
i have to remind myself of this all the time— you’re not going to get to your dreams by constantly people pleasing and caring about people’s opinions. in fact, caring too much about other people’s opinions of you, what you do, what you are pursuing, and what they will think of your new self-made boundaries is the quickest way to never seeing your dreams come true.
the best thing that you can do for yourself (and, really, for everyone in the world) is to set up boundaries so you can protect yourself, your time, your energy, your focus, your creative space so that you have everything you need in order to make your ideas come to life.
without boundaries, you risk giving yourself away to everyone with nothing left to give yourself. with boundaries, you set yourself up for not only seeing your dreams come true, but recharging and filling yourself back up with inspiration and rest so that you can give more to the people and world around you.
the question we need to ask ourselves then is —
what do we want more— the forever young lifestyle or the life of our dreams? what do we want more— to be generous with our time in the moment or to be generous for a lifetime? what do we want more— people’s momentary approval or to make an impact on the world and leave behind a legacy?
we’re never going to get more time. time is limited— which is why it’s so valuable and people can charge thousands of dollars for an hour of their time.
it’s time that all of us start looking at the bigger picture and begin asking ourselves questions that matter.
the goals that you wrote down six months aren’t just going to magically happen one day, you have to make time for them. you make time by setting boundaries and making them a priority.
maybe you want to write a book— forego hanging out with friends one night and spend an hour thinking about your outline or writing a chapter. maybe you want to learn how to play the guitar— trade in watching netflix for an hour to watch youtube tutorials and practice. maybe you want to get a better paying job— instead of getting cozy on the couch with your book and a glass of wine, go spend an hour fixing your resumé and applying. maybe you want to start a blog— decide to spend the hour you’d spend scrolling through facebook to set up a squarespace and get started.
i am convinced— if we want to see our dreams come true— then it’s going to take setting up healthy boundaries and taking little steps everyday towards the bigger picture.
okay, so here’s my challenge— take time to answer these questions:
- what do you want to do? what do you want to accomplish? what dreams do you want see become reality?
- where in your life can you make a small sacrifice to set up new boundaries in order to help you make time for what you want to do?
now — go do it. don’t wait for tomorrow or next week. start making the little changes now. i promise, if you start setting up new boundaries so you can make steps towards your dreams and goals, one year from now you’ll look at your life and be in awe at how far you’ve come.
you’ve got big things to do in this life, friend. go do them + don’t let anything get in your way.