This is the first of a series where I explore “out loud” some of the issues that trigger me and I wish to examine in more detail.
I believe that boundaries in our personal/professional lives are very important for the maintenance of well-being. My thoughts about this have emerged over the last couple of years and in response to understanding my burn out, stress and subsequent career derailment. Working at the university invited blurred boundaries around when one was at work and when not at work – reading emails at all times of the day and a top trump culture that encouraged working very long hours and being at the computer outside working hours. There were “prizes” for the saddest and weekend blurring was commonplace. I became caught up in this and found it increasingly difficult to not be engaged in work based interactions. I seemed to never be “off duty” and I now know this significantly contributed to my disenchantment and disillusionment and then my decision to leave the University. Going on to work for an organisation with even worse blurred boundaries was a tad ironic BUT it has taught me to be mindful of boundaries and not engage with professional conversations all the time – there has to be down time. For example I might notice something on social media on a Saturday evening BUT I do not expect that to be followed up with a request to do some work… It may be impulsive and not meant to bother me BUT it does. I really do have to look after myself and my well being in a very active and assertive way. Years of not valuing my own opinions and overlooking my own self care need to be changed and patterns of behaviour altered to derail the negativity and maintain my energy and ensure I stop feeling frustrated, write the book and keep the enjoyment in my job.
I believe boundaries are important and the ongoing examination of the purpose they serve is essential to ensure safe and effective working. Conversations about these issues come up all the time and my experience is that the unexamined issues are the ones that lead to discontent and troubles.