View from the Summit

Boundaries and Guardrails

Posted by Aaron Walker on Jul 13, 2017 7:00:00 AM

Are you setting boundaries in your life? If you aren’t you should be. Boundaries and guardrails have played a big role in helping me get to where I am today. Being self-disciplined and staying focused on the big picture will keep you from straying down a path that could quickly derail your success. Delaying gratification now will set you up to reap greater rewards in the future.

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If you don’t set boundaries, decision-making can become time consuming, tiring, and downright dangerous in some cases. Imagine a scenario in which you have no set boundaries with your income. You haven’t planned ahead for the taxes you have to pay, you aren’t saving anything in case of emergency, and you don’t have a vacation fund. Along comes a great opportunity in which you get a nice payday. You now have more money than you’ve ever seen up to that point. You don’t have any boundaries, so you buy a ridiculously expensive car and an even more expensive house. You figure all this extra money might be the signal you need to upgrade your lifestyle. You’ll quickly realize that those purchases were a huge mistake. When you plan ahead and you set your boundaries carefully, you’ll know precisely what to do with extra money when it comes your way. You’ll be able to enjoy the rewards of your hard work far more when you have guardrails in place to control your spending.


Boundaries aren’t just about financial control. Some of the most important boundaries deal with character and relationships. Whether it’s a boundary that you’ve set for yourself not to discuss politics with your employees, not to disclose your charitable contributions in conversations with your neighbors, or not to raise your voice at your children or spouse in public, setting a firm rule for yourself in areas such as these can save you from entering a potentially awkward situation or cause an unnecessary disagreement with a friend. These particular examples aren’t necessarily boundaries I’ve set in my own life, but I use them to paint a picture of the type of guardrails that you can visualize implementing in your personal life.


I do set many boundaries for myself, in business and in my private life as well. One suggestion that I encourage you to follow is never enter into a business partnership without an agreement of understanding. Failing to establish the terms of the partnership beforehand can ruin a strong friendship and can cause deep-seated bitterness.


My wife and I have set several boundaries in place to protect our marriage, and to govern our personal lives and establish certain understandings about the way we want to live. One of these is that we set our bedroom apart as a special room in our house. We keep this room very private. We don’t display any pictures in our bedroom that have anyone else in them but Robin and me. We don’t have a TV or any other electronics in the bedroom either. We have made it our own special sanctuary for spending time together and giving each other our full undivided attention with no distractions. I shoot a lot of promotional video for our business at our home but never in our bedroom. A mentor of Robin’s gave her this idea decades ago and she has adhered to it religiously..


While my boundaries and guardrails may seem extreme to those who aren’t accustomed to setting boundaries and guardrails in their own lives, I can attest to the fact that they’ve enriched my life and allowed me to be freer than I could ever be without them. If you want to learn more about the way I setup my boundaries and guardrails, I go into more detail about them in my book View From the Top.


Ryan Holiday also talks about setting boundaries in his book The Obstacle is the Way. He recounts the story of Demosthenes, who became a master orator by setting temporary boundaries in order to keep his focus. Demosthenes shows self-discipline, determination, and dedication to his craft, eventually becoming the voice of Athens by setting guardrails for himself that most people would deem to be extreme.


If you’ve never considered setting boundaries in either your entrepreneurial endeavors or in your personal life, I encourage you to give it a try. Even small guardrails to keep you in check during times of pressure will benefit you. Go ahead and set one boundary in your professional life and one boundary in your personal life and make a commitment to stick to them for three months. After three months, send me a message and let me know if they are making a positive difference in your life.


When you set boundaries and guardrails, you’re being intentional with your actions. Your focus is on the big picture. When you get the right boundaries in place, you are on the path to living the life you’ve always wanted to live. You are living on purpose!

Topics: Motivation, Coaching

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