In digital, there are few boundaries, especially for self-employed people.
What do we mean by boundaries? What don’t we mean by boundaries?
First we need to know why we’re saying yes, and why we’re saying no, which ties back to the pause: because when we’re not clear on what it is that we’re saying yes or no to, we tend to say yes all the time.
Your boundaries are about what you are willing to do: what you’re saying yes to, and what you’re saying no to.
Your boundaries are not about what other people will say.
We can’t tell people what to do; we only have control over ourselves.
You need to own your boundaries, and have accountability for your boundaries. And that’s where we often get tripped up.
I like to think of boundaries as sort of a gate offense around your garden, your business that you’re actually building. And we can’t have people coming in all the time and trampling all over everything. So we need to have a boundary.
Boundaries come when we’re clear again; when we pause.
For those of us who have had difficulty saying no, what I recommend is saying, “Can you get back to me tomorrow on that? I need to check my calendar to make sure that I have the space to give it the amount of time that I want.” That creates the space for you to think, to go back and go, “Oh, hell to the no—I’m not going to bake 457 cookies for tomorrow!” So that space, that pause, gives you enough to be able to look at your calendar and see, is this adding to my business? Is this adding to my life? Is this creating a sustainable business, or is it creating a business that is consuming me?
If you have someone you’ve always said yes to—a client who you have always said yes to, picked up for, or who you’ve always replied to within the first 10 minutes—give the gift of transparency: let them know that it’s no longer working for you, and you’d like to invite them to the conversation of, “Here’s how your thing is no longer working for me. Here’s what needs to change.”
When we lack boundaries, we’re very often resentful, pissed off, and agitated because other people are disrespecting our boundaries. Brené Brown talks about this; she’s done many, many studies on boundaries. And what she says is those who are the most compassionate are those who are the most boundaried, because we are able to take care of ourselves when we’re boundaried.
Understand what you’re saying yes to, and what you’re saying no to
Be able to make that pause. Your boundaries are about you. So you’ve got to get clear on, is this something that I want?
Create an identity-based habit
If you are someone who continually says yes, the new habit, when someone asks you to do something, is to create that space, create that identity-based habit. And the habit can be:
a. Saying, “Can you get back to me?”;
b. Just taking a pause before immediately responding and connecting to, “Do I really want to do this?”
So you’re intentionally making a choice about it and connecting to what’s possible within your life and your relationships when you establish the boundaries, gaining that clarity of why you’re saying yes and why you’re saying no.
Lisa Danforth @lisa
I’m a business growth strategist and leadership coach.
I help people get clear on the life they want to live and the business or career that will sustain it, not consume it.