In our personal lives, boundaries are necessary for the one-on-one time we need with ourselves to check in and recharge without interruption. In business, boundaries are necessary to prevent our jobs from dictating who we are and what we are to do. The truth of the matter is that our career doesn’t reciprocate the attention and the effort we put into growing it.
Technology has advanced to a level that makes it easy for people to contact us in 101+ different ways (that’s an exaggeration, I know…but that’s how it feels). I’m so used to being in frequent contact with others to the point that I get a little sad when I’ve been away from my phone for a few hours and I have no new notifications.
What’s your availability?
The level of your accessibility has an impact on your self-care; the less boundaries you set, the less time you have to care for yourself. It’s in the way that self-care is treated as a luxury. It’s the new normal to get less than 8 hours of sleep or have “once in a blue moon” self-care days. The idea of having alone time is becoming more and more of a foreign concept. It’s not wrong to claim time just for yourself and yourself alone (sans scrolling through social media)! Enjoying your own company provides you the rejuvenation and inner peace to truly be yourself independent of the needs, opinions and judgement of ours.
When there are no boundaries, all the things that need your attention threaten to take over the space you’ve dedicated for yourself. Imagine your boss shortening a project deadline and requesting that you stay back to complete it. You oblige as a result of the boundary you’ve failed to implement with work and your personal life and decide to cancel the dinner you and your friend had been planning for a month. The decision to stay back was simple enough, maybe it even seemed like a no-brainer. But truthfully, it opened the door for more of your time to be taken away as more project deadlines change and the common chorus among your friends is that they haven’t seen you in ages.
Your Decisions Matter…
We can’t overlook the fact that the boundaries we set stem from the decisions we make moment to moment, some big (i.e. quitting a job that takes up 90% of your week), others small (i.e. drinking an extra glass of water a day), some we’re completely unaware of (i.e. checking your phone every time it “ding!”s) and ones that may seem insignificant at the time but lead to massive change down the road (i.e. putting your phone on ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode thus significantly increasing your productivity and your business’ cash flow). In each of those moments, you make a choice in how you treat yourself and the way you show up in the world so make sure you’re making decisions that support you.
It’s necessary to set boundaries..
I don’t about you but when I don’t set boundaries, I often experience…
- Overconsumption, spending hours upon hours thinking, dreaming and/or having nightmares (I hate when that happens) about that circumstance.
- Mental Exhaustion. Thinking that there’s always more that can be done and/or lacking the brain power to do any other projects or activities that bring me joy.
- Restriction, like the last point, doing less of the things I enjoy, ridding me of the flexibility I once had which is ironic since no boundaries implies no restrictions.
- Overextension, between my career and personal life especially. People and things require our attention on a regular basis where I feel like a rubber band that just keeps getting pulled thinner and thinner.
Just to name a few.
A constant reminder…
An important lesson I have to remind myself when things get out of hand is that I am my greatest asset, in other words, nothing that I contribute to is going to do very well if I’m not at my best. Me at my best makes me happy which makes me more caring, supportive and productive. This implies that I cared enough about myself to recuperate, recharge, re-energize and rejuvenate. You’re no good to yourself, and to others when you’re in a poor state of being. Fill your cup!
“But I barely have time for myself, everyone wants my attention!” you say.
Mm, I’m with you there sister and it doesn’t surprise me. You are a woman who has her head on her shoulders, knows what she’s about and does her best in the circumstances she is presented with. WHO WOULDN’T WANT TO TAG AROUND SOMEONE LIKE THAT?!?!?!?!
Question is, what puts you in the position to be your best self?
I’ll give you a hint. It’s not putting yourself in a position that leaves you burnt out and exhausted being many things for many people. It’s not your job to take on those responsibilities just because others want you to. If you do feel the need to appease, then there’s some people pleasing at play.
Allocate a healthy amount of your time to those who request it.
Someone asking for your help once may believe that you’ll always be available to help them in the future.
A respectful way of saying no can look like this:
“When I helped you with ‘x’ a few weeks, I had the time to spare but unfortunately, I will not be able to do that going forward. Here are some suggestions…”
For that initial ask:
“I’ll make an exception this time but going forward, please give me at least 48 hours notice.”
When it gets out of hand:
“I can no longer help you in this capacity, I’m at a place in my life where I feel like I’m unable to support you in this way. Let’s brainstorm some other resources that will be able to assist you.”
Utilize your phone’s Do Not Disturb mode and give ample notice about changes like this to those who frequently contact you, remember we want to be respectful.
How do you set (more) boundaries?
Start off by evaluating the way you treat yourself. How do you speak to yourself? When you’re happy, do you congratulate yourself? Or quickly jump to the next project? Do you surround yourself with the people who encourage you to pursue your dreams? The way you treat yourself is a sound indicator in how others will treat you. You’re not going to get many “hey, what’s up?” calls at 11 p.m. if you’ve clearly communicated that your phone is off by 9 p.m.
What if you’ve just graduated?
Even if you’re fresh out of college with 21.88 hours a day to spare, stop for a second. Slow down, take a deep breath in, then out and envision the lifestyle you want 2, 5, 25 years down the road– are you smiling often, surrounded by friends and family? Or are you constantly on the go at the whim of your job’s demands, looking into finding a new home for your dog who barely knows you’re her owner.
Take this time now to think about the life that will make you most enthusiastic to get out of bed in the morning: how is your time being spent in those moments? Who are you surrounded by? Where does this joy stem from? Create a habit you want to have for the long haul, how you treat yourself now is going to become a habitual practice, and be the guiding light in the way others will treat you. If you’re always available, rain or shine, dawn or dusk, that is how you’re going to be perceived.
You are your greatest asset, when you’re at your best, all that comes in contact with you will benefit. Make decisions that scream, “I care about my wellbeing!” Leave a comment below and tell me one thing you will do today. Share this post with a friend who could benefit from setting some boundaries.