How to Choose Wisely and Set Boundaries for Your Life

Everything is something you decide to do … there is nothing you have to do. ~ Denis Waitley

Is your schedule over-scheduled?

Do you consistently battle money problems?

Do you have too much stuff?

Are you perhaps overweight or out of shape?

Why? None of those situations just ‘happen’. They are a direct result of the choices you made over the past weeks, months and years. You may think that you didn’t really choose to be out-of-shape, but you also didn’t choose to go to the gym or walk daily. A choice neglected leads to the opposite effect.

Here’s something to remember: No decision IS a decision. Not making a choice is a choice in itself. For myself, I have to choose to get up off the couch and drive to the fitness center. I don’t want to (feelings), but I know I should (a better choice). I have to set a boundary in my life that says, “I will go to the gym three days a week without fail.” It’s a boundary, a limit on my time and effort that cannot be crossed.

Problems arise when you choose (either consciously or by default) – when you make commitments for yourself and others just because someone asked … without thinking about the consequences. How many times have you said ‘yes’ to a project, then when it comes time to actually DO the thing, you resent the time and effort (and often money) it takes to get it done.

That doesn’t mean you can be totally selfish. Love won’t permit that. And you are “rooted and grounded in love”, right? However, you can and should keep your life in balance as much as possible. And that requires quality choices.

Here’s an interesting observation. Every reference (in the KJV) for the word ‘choice’ uses it as an adjective, meaning select, worthy, excellent or superior. God did not use ‘choice’ to show a decision or option.  Therefore, by inference, your ‘choices’ should be well-thought-out, worthy, excellent and superior. You should take the time to choose wisely, to set boundaries for your life that reflect your desire for an excellent life, not just a mediocre one.

What to Choose:  

Let us choose to us judgment: let us know among ourselves what is good. (Job 34:4)

The life you have now is a direct result of the choices you made. If you want different results, you will have to make different choices. It really is that simple. There are four primary areas over which you have supreme control.

  1. Your attitude – Stuff happens, but you can choose how to react. Believe it or not, you’re not the only one with problems and challenges. I Corinthians 10:13 says they are ‘common to man’. That same verse also says that God will make a way out so that you can bear whatever is happening at the current moment. That way out is governed by your attitude. If you trust Him for your deliverance, strength, peace and supply, there’s no reason on earth for a ‘bad attitude’. Philippians 4:8 says to think on things that are true, just, lovely and good. If you will choose to do that, you will have an excellent attitude.
  2. Your time – Are you constantly telling people, “I’m just so busy!”? Why? Well, who set your schedule?  Over-commitment is a result of the choices you make, day-by-day. It is your time – every moment – to do with as you choose.  Wise choices may require you to re-think your schedule, your commitments, and your leisure. Are you spending too much time in one area (playing computer games, perhaps, instead of doing the dishes)? Make the excellent choice, not the one that feels good. Feelings don’t last, but results do.
  3. Your money – It comes and goes, often without thought. You walk through a store and think, “I’d like that,” so you pick it up and head for the cashier. Then you get it home, wonder where to put it; then you have to dust it, clean it, and take care of it until you choose to get rid of it. How much of your money just disappears (coffee or lunch out, clothes you don’t need – you get the idea) when a conscious choice would have you saving some of that money for a vacation or your emergency fund? (And need I mention retirement?) You are making choices, but are they excellent ones where your money is concerned?
  4. Your physical health – Yeah, you know you should eat better … and exercise more. If you aren’t, it is still your choice. You chose to sit in front of the TV or computer instead of going for a walk. You chose to have dessert four times last week or to breakfast on chips and soda. Think about it! Food doesn’t just jump into your body. You have to put it there via your mouth. Your hand is an implicit conspirator but your brain needs to be engaged in the process. Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you? (I Cor. 6:19) God lives inside you! Do you want Him to give Him run-down, no-energy accommodations? Ask yourself, “Am I choosing right boundaries for my diet and physical activity?”

The Art of Saying No: 

… know to refuse the evil and choose the good. (Is. 7:16)

Remember your childhood, how easy it was to say no to your parents or siblings. No matter what they wanted, NO was your automatic answer.

That attitude seemed to persist into parenthood, at least in our house. We found ourselves constantly saying NO to our daughter’s requests – often without taking time to consider why. NO was easy and automatic.

Why is it, then, that we have such a difficult time saying ‘no’ to the rest of the world? Is it because we don’t want to hurt their feelings, or be perceived as selfish? Or perhaps it’s because we want to ‘belong’ to a certain group, even though the commitment will be draining. We try to teach our teens to stand up against peer pressure, yet we succumb to it ourselves.

If you find it difficult to say no – even when you know it’s the right choice, stop and think why you are choosing to give in. Is it an excellent reason or the easy-way-out excuse? To help you establish some boundaries for your own life, here are a few simple ways to extricate yourself (say no) from unwise commitments and negative situations.

  1. “I can’t. I have other priorities right now.” That statement leaves the door open to perhaps revisit the request in the future if you so choose.
  2. “Now isn’t a very good time for me to take on anything else.” You can expand on that statement if you choose to, explaining that you’re in the middle of another time-consuming project. Don’t feel, however, that you must have a reason or excuse. It’s no one else’s business how you choose to manage your life.
  3. “I would like to help, but I have something else scheduled.” It’s impossible to be in two places at once. Your scheduled event might be a trip to the gym or a good book you want to read. Maybe their request will interfere with your prayer and study time. Again – not their business.
  4. “Let me check my calendar and get back to you.” This gives you time to breathe and consider the request if you’re so inclined. Be faithful to follow up, giving a definite yes or no to the request. Don’t leave the other person wondering about your participation.
  5. “That’s not something I’m comfortable helping with.” Perhaps your skill set doesn’t match their need. Maybe it’s a project that doesn’t align with your ideology or mission. If you know someone who might be a better fit, suggest them; otherwise, let it go.
  6. “No, I can’t.” Isn’t that simple? “No.” No excuses. No explanations. Just NO. You can even say no to yourself!
  • No, I won’t eat that right now.
  • No, I won’t buy that right now.
  • No, I can’t do that right now.
  • No, I won’t get upset about that right now.

What you are really saying is:

  • I choose health.
  • I choose to save that money for something else (make sure you actually do it).
  • I choose other priorities for my life.
  • I choose peace, joy and faith.

You control the boundaries of your life. As you begin to make well-thought-out worthy, excellent and superior choices, you will experience a worthy, excellent and superior life. You choose.

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