Do you know your limits? So many of us don’t. Or worse yet, we are afraid that if we admit we have limits that we are weak. When in reality the opposite is true. Knowing your limits, in all aspects of your life, makes you a more rounded individual, better employee, kinder friend, and more loving person. Understanding your limits is the key to feeling more in control of your life and allows you to give more energy and love to those around you.
I used to think that “no” was a dirty word. I had a really hard time telling people “no” for lots of reasons. I felt like it was rude. That they would resent me for turning down their offer in anyway. I grew to resent myself and others when I felt burned out, didn’t really want to participate, or felt like I agreed to something I really shouldn’t have. I didn’t know my limits.
Knowing your limits means that you know when to take a break and when to push through. When you really are stressed and when you are just burned out. Take a look at some of the key areas of your life that you should be aware of when setting limits with yourself.
Know Your Time Limits:
Know yourself well enough to know your time limits. This can range and vary with different people, events, things, and situations. But we aware of when you have had enough. In elementary school, I could only handle a play-date for about an hour. After that, I didn’t care how great of friends we were, I was done and ready to go home. That was my limit. Some people can binge-watch movies all day. I can only truly enjoy a good movie that keeps it under 3 hours. After that I probably am not going to love any movie no matter how good.
As you start to become aware of your own natural time limits, start to look for the ques from others when they have reached theirs. Children are the most genuine in this aspect. When they are done with a movie (or you) they will tell you or just leave the room.
Why this is important: It might sound a little harsh to guard your time but keeping myself to a reasonable time limit stops you from slipping into the “tired/done/ready to go” person that isn’t very nice. Save yourself, and save the people around you from unnecessary attitude by understanding that your time limit exists and you have enjoy your time spent only for so long.
Know Your Stress Limits:
There are two types of stress in the world: bad stress and good stress. You know the difference well. Good stress is the pressure you feel to do better, be more, and try new things. It pushes us forward. Bad stress holds us back and can make our lives feel out of control. We need to make sure we know our limits for both of them. Sometimes this can be difficult to do since stress ebbs and flows but watch out for the signs your body is giving you. Do you have more acne, feel tired, wired, irritable, muscles hurt, headaches, or even lose sleep when you are too stressed? Look for these signs then hit the breaks.
Why this is important: While stress is usually a sign we are growing and stretching we can’t take too much at once. Try keeping your stress below the comfortable limit you set for yourself, then don’t be afraid to say “no” to any extra obligation that increases stress WITHOUT increasing happiness.
Know Your Work Limits:
This has nothing to do with your work ethic and everything to do with mental recharging. I learned my lessons on my work limits the hard way.
I graduated college on a Friday in December. The following Monday I started my new “real life” job. I worked there taking no time off for 6 months. Then I took another job where the only time I took off was one day for a funeral. I finally took time off when I got married and it was only for 3 days. After that I worked straight, taking no time off due to a horrible PTO policy for nearly 7 months. I hit my limit. We all need breaks. It’s okay to work hard if you know that you get to play hard (or at least relax hard).
Why this is important: We need to know our work limits so that we can start to understand ourselves better. If magically it seems that your job is more than you can stand every 3-4 months, then that is a good sign you might need to take a Friday and go for a little vacay or even stay-cay. It is better to recharge your batteries every now and then, than to completely burn yourself out.
Know Your Giving Limits:
Hear me out on. We should serve and love people our whole lives. It is the reason we are here and brings so much job to our lives. But be aware of giving of yourself to the point that you don’t feel like you have time for yourself. Some people will take and take emotionally from you until you feel that you have nothing left to give. Again, this is a sign that you need to take a slight break and revive yourself before you start again. Stephen Covey said that, “if I had 6 hours to chop down a tree, I would spend the first 4 sharpening the saw.” Make sure you are taking time for yourself to “sharpen the saw” in whatever need your life is presenting you.
Why this is important: If you want to find balance between our physical, mental, spiritual, and emotion self then you need to make sure you have time and energy to give that to yourself. Always serve others, but beware of people who will suck your time, energy, and emotion without every giving back. Understand your limits on how much of yourself you will give them.