I’ve recently embarked upon a new 90-day vision and contemplation on boundaries in business. As I mentioned last time, I like to divide my business goals into 90-day chunks. That time frame works well for me. So I’m focusing on actionable steps I can take during the next 12 weeks to improve my relationship with myself and by extension, others I encounter. What can I say? I’m a philosopher, and not of the armchair variety.
This method of applying big ideas to daily life and work are incredibly powerful for creativity as well, which is part of what makes me so damn good at what I do ;) I invite you along for the ride with me for daily considerations on holding boundaries in business as a primary method of keeping yourself sane in this wild world we live in, that seemingly keeps getting wilder.
What’s so important about setting boundaries in business?
Having strong but compassionate boundaries is a part of self-respect and defining who we are, how valuable we are, and how much we can offer at any given time. And I could end this blog right there. But the creation of boundaries in business, in the professional environment, in our personal lives, is simply not that easy most of the time.
We are gregarious creatures. We (most of us) want to help each other. We want to be good, or maybe even the best, at what we do. And that means hard work. It means giving it all we’ve got and then some. Right? Wrong. We can only give when we have excess. The rest of the time, we need to take care of ourselves. Who else is going to do it?
To really understand how to create boundaries, it is important to know that we are the creators of structure and stability in our lives. In life and in business, whether we know it or not, we are constantly creating (or trying to create) a structure, or environment, for ourselves within which we can thrive. When we create our own structures and environments, it means that we are putting together the building blocks for our own little worlds, especially as business owners.
Edges and boundaries are essential for maintaining our sanity. Our own little worlds need edges. Otherwise, it can feel like we’re living in a cloud. You can’t live in a cloud. You won’t be able to see anything and you’ll inevitably fall out because there’s no structure.
That doesn’t mean that the edges have to be razor-sharp, or even hard. They just have to exist. Creating boundaries doesn’t mean being unkind or harsh. It means taking care of yourself first. Is there a theme developing here? Yes.
It’s not about finding balance. It’s about creating stability.
When you focus on creating boundaries for yourself and holding firm to those edges, you start to realize that success is not about finding balance. It’s about creating stability. These are two very different ways of looking at the world. It’s a mindset shift. It puts you in the driver’s seat of your own life and takes you away from the idea that the world can push you around and determine your mood.
Looking for balance is like hoping that when you burn the midnight oil for weeks, you’ll eventually get an equal amount of downtime. We even talk about “catching up” on sleep. Correcting for our intentional overcorrection. I don’t know about you, but I gave up pulling all-nighters once I finished grad school. I was never more miserable than when I wasn’t getting enough sleep on a regular basis.
Just think about this. Picture an actual scale for a moment—an old-fashioned scale, like the scales of justice. The more weight you add to one side, the more you have to add to the other side to balance things out. But there’s a hard limit to that. If you add too much to one side without adding to the other side, eventually all of your hard work slides right off the edge and you’re back to square one.
So when you strive for balance you’re constantly hoping to find the perfect amount of weight on either side so that nothing tips over.
In other words, balance is a hoping/wishing kind of game where you have a very obvious lack of participation and control over what you are doing. Or more accurately, with balance you are choosing to put yourself at the mercy of the weight on your scales.
That feels pretty heavy, doesn’t it?
On the other side of things, stability is something that you create with your hands, something you can feel confident in, because you’ve built it from the ground up.
You build your home with your hands. You pour concrete to create your foundation. You frame out the structure with sturdy wood. You nail it together, piece by piece. You make sure there are windows and doors. You build a roof and walls. You put in heating and air conditioning so that you are comfortable and safe from the elements. You put in cozy furniture, all the stuff that creates a place where you can go to find stability.
All because of choices that you made based on the needs that you have.
So why in the world would you not carry that stability out into the world with you? Why would you lack a structure and walls when it comes to your boss, your colleagues, your family, your spouse?
When it comes down to it, we are human. We are flawed. We get emotionally, mentally, physically, spiritually disconnected and into a place where we’re triggered, tired, and we can’t see straight. So we say yes to everything, and wonder why we feel like the world’s doormat.
Once you get to that rock bottom place of feeling like the world’s most cushy doormat, you either stay there because it’s a conditioned behavior pattern, or you stand up and take a look at how awesome you are and how being a doormat is simply outside of your structure. Then you get to work creating those boundaries in business.
Stability does not mean that you are the foundation of the world. It means you hold yourself up with ease.
Would you ever rely on someone who thought themselves capable of being the foundation of the world? Ha! That’s ridiculous, right? So don’t get caught in a trap of thinking that you can be that foundation for anyone but you.
We are all individuals walking separate paths but doing it with billions of other people, some participating in their stability more than others, for sure. It is our unique ability to build our own house, for our own selves, in our own minds that offers something rich to the world.
And that, of course, requires the creation of boundaries in business and elsewhere, to ensure that the home that you’ve built for yourself is going to hold up against the storms that the world is going to offer. The home (your body/mind/person) that you’ve built is susceptible to all sorts of things, but when you take precautionary measures, like putting locks on your doors and windows, you ensure that when it’s closed, it’s closed.
Place Your Mind on Energetic Lockdown
Not having boundaries as adults in the “real world” puts us in a very vulnerable position. It makes us easy targets for being taken in some way or another. Just like you lock the doors to your home to keep out thieves out, you’ll want to place energetic locks on your mind to keep out those who steal your energy (especially if your work is creative and by the way, all valuable work is creative). You can’t just let anyone or anything in, and you have to learn how to say no. You have to learn how to close your doors, and occasionally lock people out.
Sometimes that means that we have to completely change our circumstances and sometimes it means making a mind shift. Thing is, we all like the idea of helping each other, of feeling free and open and light, but it is a feigned understanding of working together and trusting each other. Unfortunately we cannot trust everyone and living in the world isn’t easy.
In this way, creating boundaries simply protects our energy from being stolen, so that we have the energy to live within our own structure that we’ve created where we can thrive. And goodness gracious, we all know that as we age, our energy decreases, no matter how much we do to keep it going. It’s a part of living.
So I’d suggest that the creation of boundaries, of securing your home where you are right here and right now, is a part of the process of maturing. It takes some until they’re dying to figure that all out, but if we are involved in life in a way that keeps us fresh and moving, we figure it out early, and our lives are much more productive, efficient, healthy, and joyful.
Creating boundaries in business also takes some semblance of self-reflection. You’ve got to slow down and be aware of where you are and what you need and want, and what you don’t need or want in order to effectively create and enforce your own boundaries. And you have to know that where you are and how you feel and what you want and need is going to fluctuate from day to day.
So indeed, part of creating boundaries in business is accepting yourself, wherever you are in any given moment. That doesn’t mean you accept yourself as being perfect and just and right (do you want to be happy or do you want to be right?), it just means that where you are is certainly subject to change in any moment.
In a state of respecting yourself and accepting yourself wherever you are in any given moment, you know what you can and can’t take in any given moment. And in no way are boundaries in place to push you to your edge. Instead, they are in place to ensure your happiness, your success, your mental and physical cushion, and to ensure that you are thriving in the stable environment that you’ve created.
Just. For. You.
So my time and giving of expertise is up for today, that’s my boundary. But, if you’re looking to set some boundaries around content creation and working within your personal zone of genius, you know who to contact.
Photo credit: stylephotographs / 123RF Stock Photo