“Boundaries are a litmus test for the quality of our relationships. Those people who can respect our boundaries will love our wills, our opinions, our separateness. Those who can’t respect our boundaries are telling us they don’t love our no, only our yes – our compliance.”
— Henry Cloud, Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life
‘Boundaries’ was my word last year. However, with all that happened, and no more limitations between work, personal time, days of the week and time of the day, I soon let go. Very quickly, from a thin line separating these, there was no line at all, and work started to spill into my personal time, affecting my overall balance.
The thing is, when you run your own business, there are so many factors to consider. You end up being everywhere and wearing many hats. That’s when boundaries get blurred or completely erased.
For some people, boundaries are a must and it may not be easy to understand why some of us struggle to set boundaries.
Why is it difficult to set boundaries?
Caring a lot sometimes gets in the way of healthy boundary-marking. For instance, not liking to leave people hanging and caring for their business like you care for yours may not be the ideal thing for you.
Reactivity is another. It has you thinking – if it can be done now, why wait? So, instead of making a list of things to do, you start on the tasks immediately, and that extra hour at night turns to 3.
As much as caring and reactivity are key, transparency is just as important. If you set boundaries, you are transparent and are able to explain why certain things take time. Also, it dispels the need to start work on something immediately.
Without boundaries, there is no clear way to communicate and set expectations with your clients and partners. So, setting boundaries in your business is a must. It is imperative that clients know when they can or cannot contact you.
One of our values is respect, and I will always respect not contacting someone on weekends, or early morning or late at night. Not unless it’s really, really necessary. The same goes for the other side. As business owners, we tend not to authorize ourselves to set clear boundaries, but respect really means something when it is shared both ways.
We all need to set a clear distinction between work and personal life, even more so when we are passionate about our work.
What are business boundaries?
Here’s an example – I am available from 9AM to 6PM on weekdays, not on weekends and you can schedule a call during the week, except on Thursdays. If you were in an office, you would follow clear timings. Start slowly – a drastic change will sound too strict – but start like…
I will not start before 9AM. Not starting before 9AM means not checking emails or answering phone calls. Even this is work. There is no such thing as ‘I am only checking my emails’.
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Why do you need boundaries?
Because there will always be something new to do or someone to tend to.
A boundary will set some free time or recharge time in between calls or projects; just the right dose for you to ensure that you don’t burn out. You love your work, but you are not defined by it. You need time to do other things too. You need to manage your energy in order to be more present with a clear mind for others.
If you read our blog on a day in the life of a digital marketer, you’ll gain some insight into what my average day is like, and why it’s necessary to have boundaries to ensure a better way of working.
Learn to say no
There is nothing wrong with saying ‘no’. You need to trust yourself and know that you always come with the best intentions. Saying ‘yes’ does not mean it is always the right thing to do or the right decision to make. Saying ‘no’ now may gain you respect from others because it means you know what is best for you and for them.
You will feel better setting boundaries. Before people respect your time and space, you need to identify what you need and how to recharge, or set time to do work. A call is disruptive and we tend to be more reactive rather than making the right decision.
Always leave a minimum of 48 hours before saying yes or no to something. It may work wonders.
Boundaries don’t come naturally – at least not for most of us; it takes discipline and practice. Think of boundaries as a way to look after yourself and get the proper rest to come back to your work energized and more positive to give the best value out there. Think of boundaries as a way to set deeper and more meaningful connections.
“The only people who get upset about you setting boundaries are the ones who were benefiting from you having none.” – Unknown.
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