New Job, Healthy Boundaries: How To Start Right.

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New Job, Healthy Boundaries: How To Start Right

May 5, 2022

Starting a new role is the perfect time to set healthier boundaries, but it’s all too easy to fall into familiar habits. We review the best boundary-setting ideas for wellbeing and career success.

“Goodbye, old working me,” you think. “Gone are the days of late night overtime, weekend emailing and missed social occasions. This time, things are going to be different.”

Starting a new job can, indeed, be the perfect time to reassert healthy boundaries and reclaim your personal life. After all, none of your new colleagues know how adept you are at ‘going the extra mile’.

In fact, setting clearer boundaries could be exactly the refresh that both your career and your wellbeing need. Successful leaders know when to say no, while those who over commit are at real risk of burnout, stress and anxiety.

And yet, so many of us make completely the wrong start when taking on a new role.

Instead of setting healthy boundaries from the off, we too often get over-excited by new horizons and go in all eager-to-please. For colleagues who may have been awaiting help, this enthusiasm can be too much of a good opportunity to miss.

We also commonly get caught off guard by unfamiliar working cultures. Those used to corporate rigidity, for example, can be thrown when entering more agile environments like startups where boundaries are often more blurred.

So, how do we start right and take the opportunity that a new job presents to set healthier boundaries?

We’ve rounded up some of the strongest ideas for setting boundaries in a new job:

Start With Practical Boundaries

The easiest way to establish your new working ‘you’ is to stick to clear working habits like:

·        Adhering to start and end of work times

·        Checking email only during working hours

·        Indicating concentration time with headphones or (if you’re lucky enough) a closed door

·        Taking breaks away from your desk

Flexibility is sometimes needed, but breaking these habits should very much be the exception rather than the rule. Your new colleagues will, in all likelihood, respect your practical boundaries once they understand them. If you’re in a leadership role, you may even want to lay out your expectations regarding working boundaries for the whole team.

Set Realistic Expectations For Yourself

It’s all too easy to imagine rapid ascension to success in your new role, but all the best achievements take time. Setting the bar too high too early can be a recipe for disaster. Janine Woodcock, author of The Power of Choices, cautions that “new hires naturally try to prove their value through hard work, but it’s important to remember that you’re learning a new job, while also learning your own limits.” By ignoring the latter, “you’re setting yourself up for burnout at some point.”

Become A Questioner To Avoid Task Dumping

Here’s a great way to deflect from being barraged with assignments in week 1; go on the front foot by asking great questions. Your new colleagues may be keen to offload work in your direction, but you can gain the higher ground by leading the lines of enquiry. The Muse recommends 70 “get to know you” questions that can expand your understanding and lead to strong working relationships. Don’t fall into the trap of letting new colleagues fill your to-do list to the brim straight away.

Get Comfortable With Saying No

‘No’ is the two letter word that can transform your working life. Say ‘no’ to superfluous meetings, arduous assignments and non-essential engagements. Your justification? Because then you’ll be able to say ‘yes’ to more things that actually matter. Saying no can feel incredibly unnatural when in ‘new job’ mode, but it’s an important way to show that you value yourself. “If you can say yes to only what you deem truly meaningful,” says Nedra Glover Tawwab, author of Set Boundaries, Find Peace: A Guide to Reclaiming Yourself, “you’ll be practicing healthy self-boundaries. It’s your responsibility to care for yourself without excuses.”

Build Relationships, Earn Favours

Setting boundaries can mean displacing work onto others. “In most cases,” explains Nicole Wood, CEO of Ama La Vida, “by honoring your boundary, someone else may have to adjust their plan and miss a goal or deadline, or work in a way they hadn’t planned (often your boss).” This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s best to have a store of goodwill built up ready for when you need to draw the line. Getting this right is a matter of emotional intelligence (EQ), a trait proven to be demonstrated by 90% of top performers in the workplace.


With the right attitude and some simple steps, starting a new job can be the perfect time to set healthier boundaries. Ultimately, it’s an improvement that can lead to both improved wellbeing and greater long-term career success.

So, if you’re beginning a new role, start as you mean to go on by setting healthier boundaries from day 1.


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