Joanne Cook coaching showing how to set boundaries with life coaching cards

How to care less and set healthy boundaries

by | Oct 4, 2022 | Free resources

I’ve found in recent conversations with clients the notion of ‘I want to care less’ has arisen numerous times. This is mostly in relation to work – but not always. By ‘care less,’ individuals mean they want to be less heavily emotionally invested, less consumed by something or someone. Read on to discover practical tips and my 3 step guide for how to care less and set healthy boundaries.

So, how do you set healthy boundaries and begin to care less?


How do you begin to step back and lose that over-intensity?

Well, here’s some practical tips to consider:

You get more of what you focus on

Spend your time and energy on things you love or fulfil you (they may not be the same thing) rather than those you feel obliged to do particularly if it’s to gain acceptance from others. If you’re tired after work, you can relax on the sofa with a good book rather than mow the lawn or do chores– the lawn or chores can wait.

Consider what in your life is worth caring about. Your family, a roof over your head, paying the bills perhaps. But what about everything else?

What about the (never-ending) ‘to do’ list? Does everything carry equal priority?

If what you’re doing or who you’re with no longer ‘sparks joy’ (in the words of decluttering guru Marie Kondo) then it’s time to rethink and do something that nurtures you.

Examine your expectations

Nobody’s expectations of us are as high as our own. Not that we’re all perfectionists, but rather that we don’t give ourselves as much of a break as we would a loved one, friend or colleague. And often, if we are being overly harsh critics of ourselves, we can project this and become unrelentingly judgemental of others.

Wrestling with unrealistically high expectations of ourselves and fiercely judging others can create guilt and lead to even harsher self-criticism in a vicious cycle. It can be good to examine the expectations and beliefs that we carry day to day.

Check out the bigger picture

Is your self-worth and value directly related to your job?

It is for many people and where this sense of being too invested sits. Jobs are no longer for life, and we can now have many jobs or careers in our lifetime. When working with clients I often widen the lens considering all aspects of their life to support seeing themselves beyond their job.

Remember one day, the job that you sell your soul for today may not be there. You may feel a better balance if you spend more time with friends, walking in nature, or even working on a plan b.

Set boundaries

Work out what you need, and what is important to you, then protect this by saying ‘no’ to whatever interferes with it. That could mean finishing work on time and choosing to spend more time on something enriching rather than working late into the evening.

Some people I work with find it hard to say no to additional work. They have worked over and above for so long that it becomes expected and feel that saying ‘no’ will be received as unhelpful, affect their future career or diminish their sense of belonging.

Another way to set boundaries is to look at what’s draining or unfulfilling in your life.

If you feel de-energised in certain circles or activities, that’s a clue to rebalance the time invested. It’s good to question what keeps you there?

Remember, you can:

  • Put yourself first and still care about others.
  • Say no and care.
  • Saying no does not make you a bad person but that something isn’t right for you. No need to justify yourself either.
  • Choose to preserve your time for the things that you truly care about.

Here is my three-step guide to helping clients Care with Discernment:


Step 1 Awareness: Building Self-Awareness

  • When do you step into over-caring?
  • When do you balance the sense of care well?
  • When don’t you seem to care at all?
  • What do others notice or say you care about?

Step 2 Understanding: Without judgement

  • What feelings sit behind your sense of care?
  • What areas of your life do you care most about?
  • Is your time and attention aligned to those areas?
  • Do you know what is and isn’t worth your time and attention?

Step 3 Action: Managing expectations

  • Try saying ‘no’ and see how it feels. What do you notice?
  • Consider where the things you care about sit in relation to your current priorities.
  • What boundaries could you set to keep the things you care about?
  • What will you be politely and honestly saying ‘no thank you’ to, so you can say ‘yes please’ to what really matters to you?

Feel you want to explore more in setting your boundaries? Then book a free, no obligation, discovery call with me.