John is a small business owner, providing plumbing services for residential and commercial clients. He has a beautiful wife, two young children and an aging mother that all need his time and attention. His three plumbers work for him, but recently one has become increasingly difficult to manage. John is busy with more clients than he can manage, and he’s not sleeping well at night. The stress of his business, the long hours, and the demands of his family are taking a toll on his health. He has gained 30 pounds in the last year. John’s doctor says he needs to lose weight and figure out how he can take better care of himself, but he doesn’t know what to do.
John needs to learn how to set boundaries.
Boundaries define the limits busy entrepreneurs need to set in their lives to protect what is most important to them. I look at boundaries as part of the foundation that holds our lives in place. Without boundaries, everything can, and will happen. Our lives can slowly unravel, and before we know it, our lives are nothing like what we envisioned them to be. Boundaries establish clear lines and they keep life from becoming blurry or fuzzy.
When setting boundaries, it is helpful to establish boundaries in terms of minimums and/or maximums. For instance, you may have a boundary that states you will work 40 hours per week at a minimum. The minimum is the boundary that defines what is considered “good enough” for your business. You can also set a maximum boundary around working hours. This boundary might say that you will not work more than 50 hours per week – you will reserve downtime for family and relaxation. The minimum and maximum boundaries protect you from patterns of perfectionism and procrastination. If you go below your standard, you are not honoring what is important to you. If you go above your standard, it might mean you are placing unrealistic expectations on yourself.
As self-employers, our personal and professional lives are not always clearly separated. As a matter of fact, if you are an entrepreneur, your business is a family business. Regardless of who you have working with or for you, your business will seep into the family. Because your business life affects your personal life, and vice versa, it is even more important to establish boundaries that protect you and your life on all levels.
Here are seven types of boundaries that you can apply to both your personal and business life. Ask yourself which boundaries you need to start setting to create the life you dream of having.
Self-esteem boundaries protect your sense of worth. These boundaries help you feel good about you. When you are confident, you will attract more clients, and you will be a better leader. What is the minimum you need to do to maintain self-respect? Perhaps you need to follow through on your promises or maintain honesty in your life. What are the limits you need to set with yourself and other people to make sure your self-esteem is not compromised?
Without your health, you have nothing. You cannot run a business when you are sick or stressed out. What do you need to do to protect your body? What physical limitations might you need to recognize? What standards need to be in place for you to protect your physical health? It could be that a certain minimum amount of exercise or a maximum amount of food or drink is required. It might mean you always honor regular health and dental appointments.
Energy boundaries obviously protect the amount of physical and emotional energy you have to operate from. What energy drains in your life need to be eliminated or minimized? Perhaps you have a few high maintenance clients that suck up all your energy, or maybe your cluttered office is dragging you down. Which energy refuelers must be present to help you maintain the energy you need for your life? Taking three-day getaway vacations every month could be what you need to re-energize.
Time is a precious commodity. Without proper time boundaries, we lose something we can never get back. What non-negotiable boundaries must be in place to protect your time? What is the maximum amount of time you will spend on a particular activity, at a specific event, or engaging in work? Time management is all about having clear boundaries.
Your space includes any environment you spend time in. Pay attention to your needs for organization or beauty in your environments. How do you know when your housecleaning is “good enough?” Does your vehicle make you feel good when you drive it? Is your office helping you be productive? Protect your spaces so they nourish you and enable you to live your life optimally.
Just like time, you need money to survive in this life. Every business owner is concerned with how much money the business is making. Your money boundaries protect your finances. What are the limits you need to set on spending and saving? What is the minimum salary you are willing to work for? Consumer debt, for instance, is the result of unidentified or compromised boundaries.
Your relationships are truly your greatest gift in life. What boundaries need to be in place to protect your relationships? How much time do you need to spend to nurture your relationships? What limits do you need to set on your behavior in relationships? Are there clients or employees that compromise your standards of doing business? Boundaries help ensure your relationships remain healthy.
Boundaries are essential to help you identify who you are, what’s important to you, and how you want to live your life. Take the time to ask yourself these important questions about which boundaries you need in your life. If you don’t, other people will decide these things for you.
The Seven Types of Boundaries Every Entrepreneur Needs to Protect their Lives
August 22, 2016