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Know your limits

Clarice Bouwer

Software Engineering Team Lead and Director of Cloudsure

Friday, 12 May 2017 · Estimated 3 minute read

"Know your limits, know when to give, know when to demand, know when to say no, know when enough is enough"

Face your fears, get out of your comfort-zone, do something that you won't normally do. Yes, this is maybe great advice until it becomes debilitating and you falter under the pressures of this "anomaly".

Identify your limits

I know this because I've succumbed to it. That is why I believe that it is important to know your limits.

You won't know if you don't try though. So go ahead and try. If it does cause such intense anxiety and debilitates you to the point of no return, you've most likely reached a limit and know to avoid it for next time.

You can choose to follow through or escape the situation. The choice is yours for the making - no one else's.

Is it worth my while?

Ask yourself if you can really cope with this or if you need to back out:

  • Which is more detrimental to me?
  • What is the impact on my lifestyle, relationships and wellbeing?
  • What are the consequences of both?
  • Are there trade-offs or compromises that can be made?
  • Is it just fear or real debilitation in my day-to-day functioning?

If it becomes so debilitating you may end up misusing or turning to mood altering substances, become obsessive and create unhealthy relationships. This is what you want to avoid.

The most debilitating experience I can share is speaking in front of an audience where I was filmed in a room with about 200 people. I now know, although I did do it, that I will most likely not do public speaking on that level again.

Say no

This is a hard one, especially for a people-pleaser who takes on more than they can chew. If you can't do something, you are not compelled to do it. Just say no.

Be the FIRST beneficiary for anything you do. If you are not benefiting from a particular task, function or activity then you are losing your precious time you have on this earth.

  • You need to put yourself first.
  • Understand your roles and responsibilities.
  • Know your capabilities and strengths.
  • Avoid burnout and being overwhelmed.

Saying no gives you a way out of doing something outside of your limits.

Assertive demands

Sometimes you need to make demands. This could be something drastic as a salary adjustment, asking a colleague to stop showing up late for important meetings or something as simple as getting green sticky notes to help your productivity.

Whatever your demand is you can vigilantly communicate them without regret or guilt. Express your point of view while respecting the rights and beliefs of the other person. This form of communication does not offer a no response but a compromise can be made. It can help you boost your self-esteem and respect with others.

Assertive demands can help you manage people who often push you to do things outside of your limits. You will be able to sternly but respectfully communicate the reasoning behind the lack of enthusiasm you do not share with regards to the situations and activities in question.


Draw invisible lines where things make you feel inferior, uncomfortable or "dirty". There are probably other reasons for creating boundaries but the point is to communicate these boundaries and have consequences for the person overstepping a boundary - not empty threats. Push back or you'll be taken advantage of.

These boundaries tied to your limits can help you identify where you wish to draw the line personally with certain situations and activities. It can also help you manage the expectations of others who want you to do things you know you cannot achieve without falling apart.

My final thoughts

I still choose to live outside my comfort-zone. I don't know many of my limits yet I do tend to push myself quite far. I have come to learn that I need to put my needs before my aspirations and successes as to not burn out and over extension.