Monday, 15 April 2013

The importance of setting boundaries

The concept of limits sounds like an odd one doesn’t it?  Surely the whole idea of being a grown up is that we can choose to do what we want, spend our money how we want, eat what we want.
But just as children thrive on having boundaries, so must we consider that setting ourselves boundaries can lead to a simpler and more fulfilling life.  The only difference in being a grown-up is that we probably have to set and monitor them ourselves.
When we have gone to the trouble of organising our homes and wardrobes, and decluttering, it is only by setting limits for items re-entering the home that we will avoid ending up in the same position as we started.
The same is true for losing weight.  We can change our behaviour, and limit our food intake to lose weight, but it is only by setting limits long term that we will keep our weight stable and avoid re-gaining what we have lost.
Each person will have different limits – as a grown up its up to you to decide what’s appropriate.  Reading many minimalist blogs, some of the limits people set themselves are very strict and may appear arbitrary.  But it works for them – they aren’t imposing this on you.  You can decide.   And you can evolve.  One of the best examples I’ve read recently of someone completely changing their limits can be found here  Real self-awareness.
Also, it’s worth considering how you respond to the setting of limits.  From my observations there seem to be 2 main approaches:
·         Some people kick against anything that is imposed on them externally, but can live with limits that they have set themselves.
·         Some people are unable to set themselves limits, but can follow rules very nicely when an external framework is put in place.  Some people are only able to do this however when the external framework ‘makes sense’ to them, and most won’t follow rules blindly.
What sort of person are you?  I know that I am a bit of a secret rebel, and won’t follow external rules, but if I have given myself a framework, I’ll follow it almost obsessively!
You may need some external guidance – you may find you can take my limits as an example – or there are many resources out there for diets and budgeting.  Longer term though, it does appear that those people who are most successful are those who ‘own’ their limits and framework, rather than being hemmed in by external rules.
Here are some examples of my personal ‘limits’ – the frameworks I’ve set myself.
1)      I have a monthly clothing budget.  It can roll over if I haven’t used it all, but I can’t borrow from future months.  If I don’t have the money, I can’t buy the item.
2)      I operate a one in-one out system for my wardrobe.  And there has to be some parity between the items – for example getting rid of a t-shirt to make room for a new coat doesn’t work.  In actual fact, I’ve been doing more of a 1 in 3 out recently, to reduce the size of my wardrobe, but this obviously won’t be sustainable long term.
3)      If I have an unused skincare product, I can’t buy a new one in the same category.  Avoids the clutter of stockpiling, and also that endless search for the holy grail.  Most things work nicely, if you take the trouble to use them.

1)      When I’m at work I won’t buy myself chocolate or anything sugary.
2)      I only buy one coffee a day.  If I want more, its either make it at home or use the coffee machine at work. 
3)      I have at least 2 vegetarian main meals a week – helps with cost and health
And the one phrase I find most useful to keep myself in check?  “It’s not an option”. 
It’s not an option to raid the vending machine during the 3pm slump.
Its not an option to blow the clothing budget without carefully considering purchases
Its not an option to reclutter my wardrobe by allowing in new items without getting rid of something old.
What frameworks do you set yourself?

1 comment:

  1. I love the phrase 'it's not an option'. Mine is 'you can't spend money that you don't possess'. It was my grandmother's favourite to keep things in check. As a result, i have never had credit card debts or loans or anything like it.