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How to set boundaries at work and in life to become more successful



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I’ve been freelancing
for more than two decades. By most standards, I’ve had a
successful career, with bylines in more than 100 publications,
including Marie Claire, The Globe and Mail, and The Washington
Post. Most years, I’ve cleared six figures, a feat considering
average national income
for a freelance
writer is $46,000. I love what I do for a living.

I’m a bit of a professional anomaly. I’m a college dropout who
stumbled into a writing career. I didn’t go to journalism school
or have a mentor. I learned every single thing I know by making

The biggest lesson I learned early on, though, was to be kind and
empathetic but fiercely protect my boundaries. This strategy has
paid dividends in my life, both personally and professionally.

A balancing act

As soon as I learned how to balance being an empathetic human
being with my own sense of agency, I became far more successful
in life, in general.

I’m a giver by nature (but most definitely not a people-pleaser).
If I drop my walls and let you in, you’re all in, and I’ll go to
the mat for you every time. I also try to spread kindness
whenever possible, whether it’s a smile, some kind words or an
intentional act, like a handwritten note or impromptu bouquet of

I’m a natural born networker and I love connecting people. I
believe if you’re good and good at what you do, there’s always
enough to go around. I tirelessly try to build my friends and
peers up. That kind of support is invaluable.  

The not-so-great thing is I’ve learned is that people will take
advantage of kindness. As a result, I’ve had to learn how to set
hard and fast boundaries. I stopped saying “yes” to things I
don’t want to do, whether it’s a work project or personal
engagement. If something doesn’t bring positivity into my life, I
steer clear.

The benefits of boundaries

Some people interpret my boundaries as a way of keeping people
out, but they make my life easier and free up the space to give
more of myself to things that actually matter to me. I choose to
invest my time in creating a happy and prosperous life and don’t
make room for people or projects that drain my energy.

You’re never going to please anyone 100% of the time, and you
should never apologize for putting yourself first, especially if
it puts you in a better position to help others.

Establishing boundaries allows you to prioritize your well-being
while creating the space to be kind and take care of others. I’ve
found that striking this magic balance makes it so much easier to
be positive and productive and live an unapologetically authentic
and successful life.

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