When you get clear about your boundaries it changes how you show up for yourself personally and in business.
A couple years ago I was drowning in overwhelm. I still wrestle with overwhelm, exhaustion and burnout, but I’m learning to set boundaries that help me circumnavigate it in healthier ways. It’s also a skill I teach in my Mompreneur Masterminds having found it’s pretty common territory and can easily derail you if you’re not aware it’s happening
If you’re like me you’re a mom and an entrepreneur. There’s probably more on your to do list than you can possibly accomplish in one day or even week and yet you continue to take on more, sacrifice your time, your health, your… fill in the blank.
I got my first wake up call about setting boundaries about a year and a half ago. I was struggling to show up for my business and I was drowning in being a new mom. My husband works away most of the winter so I was flying solo. I was exhausted and got really attached to my story of being exhausted. I began to feel like an utter loser for not being able to dig my business out of the funk I’d found it in after having a child.
A good friend saw me struggling, listened to my poor me story – that even I was getting tired of telling – and swooped in like Florence Nightingale with dinner invitation after dinner invitation, babysitting offers, gifts, an ear, you name it she was there. She helped me create just enough space that I could breathe from time to time. And it was amazing.
Until it wasn’t.
While I was desperate for help and incredibly grateful to receive all kinds of it, I wasn’t giving back. I’ve got a bit of a Super Woman complex (know that one?) and it’s my nature to be generous and nurture others. But suddenly someone was playing the role so well for me, it felt like there wasn’t any room left for me to show up for our friendship. I felt on the take and it began to really bother me – more than I knew.
I grew resentful. I felt like a loser. I was always taking never giving. The more she showed up to help, the more it exacerbated those feelings. She became a mirror for me to see all the places I was failing – and there were many. Financially I was struggling, I was struggling to show up for my clients, I had negated my own basic needs and was becoming a bit of a mess. The resentment grew and I nearly lost the friendship.
After an unrelated coaching session about boundaries with my biz coach, I realized what was happening. I hadn’t set a boundary in my friendship and it was destroying it. When I got clear about my boundaries it changed everything and saved me from feeling like an ungrateful asshole.
As a mother and wife I also had to learn to set boundaries at home. My husband is a ski guide in the winter and runs his own biz in the summer. When he’s home, we’ve established a really great give and take of parenting a 4 year old hot damn, and giving each other time we need for self care.
When he asks me to pick our daughter up from daycare on his day, I typically say yes. My schedule is more flexible than his and my boundaries weren’t clear. But by doing this I began to sacrifice my work time to accommodate my husband’s work time.
There’s a part of self sacrifice and give and take that just comes with the territory of being a mom, but I needed to set some boundaries and start saying no or I risked losing myself to the needs of my family.
Not having boundaries was undermining my goals and ambitions. And it put a lot of pressure on me to come up with the time I needed to finish my work and maintian my own self care. So I started to say no.
And you know what? He didn’t get mad. The world didn’t end. Instead I was able to get the work done in the time I’d allotted myself and he had to work within his allotted time. Yes there are exceptions, but for the most part, we work it out. We trade off certain days, split time and have conversations around what each of us need that week. And I’m very clear about the level of flex I have in my day.
I have a client who has very clear boundaries and expectations about her time and availability, but found after working together for a while that she was pushing on mine. I felt like i was always running to catch up, Like I was failing on my work. I began to doubt myself and resentment my client. I felt unappreciated and I stopped enjoying the work – until I set boundaries.
As an entrepreneur, the times I’ve found myself carrying the most stress and the least joy in my work was when I haven’t set boundaries with my clients.
Technology has made us more available than ever and stress and anxiousness can arise when you feel someone is waiting on the other end for you to respond. So I got clear on what I was and was not willing to do. Then did the following:
- Turned off notifications on my phone and other softwares
- Time blocked my week for meetings, client work and my own work
- Stopped checking email on weekends and evenings
- Stop answering messages when I’m working on a specific task
I also let the client know the days and times I was available to meet, follow up on tasks or take on extra work. And everything got easier. I stopped resenting, they stopped calling or emailing me waiting for a response, and we get along brilliantly now because of the clear boundaries I created.
Guidelines to setting boundaries
Set your own limits – get clear with the time and space you have or need for certain activities.
Tune into your feelings – do you feel discomfort or resentment, these are the key signals your boundaries are being pushed in on.
Be direct and clear in your communication – that doesn’t mean harsh, it means stating clearly what you will or will not do.
Give yourself permission – fear and guilt often come up when we say no. No leaves space for you, which is critical.
Practice self awareness – a little meditation or mindfulness practice can dial you into getting real with what’s happening inside you. If you feel resentment or stress or frustration rising, ask yourself: How can I show up for myself in a different way? Maybe you need better boundaries.
Make self care a priority – a lot of the breakdown happens when we’re not tending to our own needs first. And Mom, you’re no good for anyone of you don’t take care of number one.
Get support – entrepreneurs, mom friends, your partner, can all be great sounding boards and accountability partners in helping you create and maintain your boundaries.
If you’re growing or launching a business and you’re looking for the support of other moms and entrepreneurs, you may want to check out how a Mastermind for Mompreneurs can provide you with the key strategies and support you need for your life and business. Sign up and you’ll get my biz and life strategies for Mompreneurs and be first to be notified when we open registration for a new session in the fall.