Encouragement:: Boundaries

Thursday, March 8, 2012

When I first started working in corporate america, my mom gave me the best advice.  

She said, “No matter what, always go to lunch.”  I said, “I want to do a good job.  What happens if I’m really busy, I shouldn’t leave and go to lunch, they will think I’m not working hard.”

She was telling me to set boundaries.  

If you never take a lunch, your boss and co-workers will always expect you to be there.  The one day that you do take a lunch and you’re not there…there’s disappointment.  And all you did was take a lunch (that you’re entitled to).  If you always get to work early, everyone will expect you to be there early.  The one day that you aren’t…you’re late.

Any of that sound familiar?  I’ve always remember what my mom said, but I’ve failed to act on those words.

Have you heard the saying…when the student is ready, the teacher will appear?  That was never more true.

I was in the restaurant in the Salt Lake City airport chatting with my events partner in crime, Lynn and we were talking about boundaries and client expectations.  We talked about urgency, the feeling of being rushed and doing things that we wouldn’t consider our best work.  We talked about setting the clients expectations and not feeling badly about it.

I made it a goal of mine that while I was in Salt Lake City, I would read the Making Things Happen Challenge.  I only had time to read 4 of the challenges during my busy week, so as I was sitting on the plane heading back to the bay area, I finished the rest of them.  They were all amazing and I’m totally game for the challenge, but one of them struck such a cord with me.  It was the challenge about Boundaries.  We are talking aha moment after aha moment.

Aha #1: If you answer email late at night, clients expect it (this sure does sound like Mom’s always take lunch advice).

Aha #2: Boundaries help you raise the bar and allows us to do our best work.

Aha #3: Focus on clients that respect your boundaries as you respect theirs.

Aha #4: If I get irritated because a client emails me on the weekend and I feel that I have to respond – it’s 100% my fault.  I’ve trained them.  I’ve set their expectation.

Being a business owner, you feel (I felt) that I needed to be available 24/7.  I’m a pleaser!  I felt that if I answered their email at midnight, they would think, what a great partner I was being.  In reality they were probably thinking…she’s a workaholic like me and has no life…or worse…no time management skills or is too busy to get things done during the day, she has to work super late hours.

Being in corporate events, you do work unconventional hours, but I can still set boundaries.  I’m going to be honest, it’s a little scary, but the reality is, I shouldn’t be talking with a client when I’m at my little misters soccer practice, I should be focused on him.  So I’ve made a decision, the boundary walls are being set.  

By the way, if you are interested in Making Things Happen, they (Lara, Emily, Natalie and Gina) are going on tour.  Not sure if they will make it to the bay area, but they are heading to the next best thing, Phoenix and I’m going to be sitting there will these wonderful ladies.

Have you set boundaries?  Or do you struggle with this?  Would love to hear.

(image credit)


Hands down, this challenge and boundary setting was one of the best things for myself this past year. I tell everyone about it because IT WORKS! 🙂 Now to get my husband to stop doing work emails in the evening is something I'm working hard on… 😉

You're so right! I love this insight and discussion. I hold myself to a standard that is not normal, and then people come to expect it… but should I lower my standards? Or be crazy forever? I haven't decided yet. Everytime I try to back off, I feel that I'm not being true to myself…. it's definitely a struggle.

Great post! I am guilty of weekend/early/late emailing…

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