Are You Honoring Your Boundaries?



I feel like strong documentation, strong professional boundaries, and strong problem-solving skills are included in social work 101.

I am a boundaries girl. Most people who interact with me know that and respect the boundaries I set. Do you know who didn’t honor the boundaries I set? Me! I didn’t honor my own boundaries and that played a role in my compassion fatigue and professional burnout!

What did ignoring my boundaries look like for me?

  • Eating lunch at my desk or skipping lunch altogether.
  • Taking work home so that I could get things done without interruption.
  • Sending emails after midnight while instructing my staff to turn off their work phones at a certain time and not respond to my emails after hours.
  • Promoting mental health days but not taking a mental health day or taking a day off unless there was a scheduled appointment or event.

Setting healthy boundaries at work supports your overall health and well-being. Setting and upholding boundaries is not only a vital step in building a long-term, successful social work career that pays you what you deserve, minimizes work stress, and increases your confidence, but it also helps to preserve your own energy levels.⁠ ⁠Compromising on your boundaries can increase your workload, impact your promotion potential, or infringe upon your leisure time.⁠

I want to remind us that professional burnout is systemic. Although this is a systemic problem, we often take a very individualized approach to preventing and overcoming burnout. We want social workers to accept accountability and exert control in their careers, but this individualized approach can leave us feeling like we are to blame when the issue is so much deeper than any one person’s action. I encourage us all to set realistic work priorities, delegate or refuse certain tasks or projects and develop a healthy work schedule.

⁠What part of boundaries do you struggle with the most – setting them or upholding them? Let me know in the comments.⁠

Social Work Tip of the Day: Set strong boundaries, then honor them

TASK: Write down 3 boundaries that you want to uphold in your current position and put them somewhere you can see them.⁠ Then, as things come along that potentially impact those boundaries, you will be reminded to uphold them!⁠

⁠Join me in On My Terms leadership coaching program if you want additional support in setting and honoring strong boundaries and progressing toward your next level.



Nicki Sanders, MSW, supports high-performing women of color in social work leadership in developing careers that feed their hearts, minds, and wallets. As Founder and CEO of Nicki Sanders Leadership Consulting, her mission is simple – to eliminate toxic workplaces by developing skilled, empathetic, and goal-oriented leaders who have the vision, support, and resources to create a culture where business prospers, and employees thrive individually and collectively. Nicki has an extensive background in nonprofit management leading high-functioning, multi-disciplinary teams, volunteer recruitment and retention, and social impact programming. She is an accomplished professor, coach, trainer, and group facilitator who has combined her gift for authentic relationships, Master of Social Work degree, and over 20 years of diverse work experience to create a life and career aligned with her values and purpose. Nicki is a lover of cupcakes, travel, and 80’s hip hop and R&B music.

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