Setting Parameters at Work to Enable Achievement of Your Goals

CPC Career Development

By Sue Edwards

At one time or another, most of us have experienced a loss of momentum in achieving the goals we set. This seems to be particularly true when we resolve to take better care of ourselves or spend more time with family and friends. Work often seems to relegate such goals to the back burner.

I have observed that when my coaching clients set clear parameters at work to enable them to achieve what they perceive to be personal goals; there is a profoundly positive impact on their focus, productivity, and satisfaction at work.

One leader whom I coach (we’ll call her Kelly) has recently achieved fantastic improvements in her clarity and effectiveness at work.  She started by simply making one small personal commitment.  Kelly decided that one day a week she would commit to taking her daughter to an after-school activity that was very important to her.  She began to structure her work day in such a way that she would be set-up for success in meeting this commitment.  Being someone who is highly responsible to others, she also needed to finish initiatives at work in time to leave the office.  She found herself working in a more focused way.  Kelly was energized by knowing that she would be meeting a commitment to her family instead of wasting energy worrying about whether she should stay at work or attend the after-school activity. This became the parameter and work simply had to fit in to the time allotted for that one day a week.

Interestingly enough, the effect of this one, small, personal commitment rapidly began to spread.

In no time, Kelly could see that in meeting this commitment to her family and keeping this workday defined instead of open-ended, she became more efficient.  Her employer benefitted – not just her family. Her confidence strengthened as she began to redefine herself as someone who makes and keeps commitments both to herself and others, instead of as someone who stretches herself to meet everyone else’s requests and can end up letting others down.

In our heads, we know that work always expands to fill the time allotted.  Yet, as a society, we are uncomfortable setting limits.  My clients have taught me that it is not until we set limits that we can become truly LIMITLESS in the impact that we can exhibit.

When their jobs can accommodate, many people have achieved great productivity by blocking off certain times as “no meeting hours”, or “email time” or “focused time for strategic projects”. Some block off a few hours every week to work at home or in another environment where there are no distractions or interruptions.  Others schedule in their fitness sessions and personal commitments as if they were work appointments to ensure that they respect these commitments.  They are setting parameters.

Setting clear parameters at work may be uncomfortable at first, but I encourage you to persevere.  I am confident that parameters will not restrict you; they will enable you to live consistently with your values and will free up your energy to produce your best work while living your best life.

Sue Edwards, ACC, CHRP, is President of Development by Design.  She is a business coach who works with entrepreneurs who are eager to grow their businesses through innovative alliances.  Contact:, 905-336-6129.

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