As an entrepreneur or self-employed professional, it can sometimes feel like everyone “wants a piece,” and we can feel pressured to add things to our plate, say yes to projects, or invest time doing things when we really don’t want to, and when we really don’t have the time to spare.
The solution? In a word: Boundaries.
Unfortunately, setting — and holding — boundaries is often easier said than done, especially for heart-centered souls who want to help people. We take on more work than we can handle, overcommit our resources and don’t say no — or when we DO say no, we can often come into the conversation feeling overworked, frustrated and ready to blame everyone else for “demanding” of us, so we act like a jerk.
So how do you set boundaries — without turning people off?
Before we get to some strategies, here’s the hard truth: if other people are taking advantage of your time and goodwill, it’s because you allow it. You are the source of your own experience. So first you must acknowledge and accept responsibility for your role in the dynamic, and then forgive yourself — and others — for all the times and ways you allowed your boundaries to be crossed. (It might be a good idea to write down all the boundaries you feel have been crossed, and acknowledge and accept your responsibility for each, one at a time.)
Next, create new agreements by having some crucial conversations. Here’s how those could go: “In the past I’ve said yes to _______, and that’s no longer workable (here’s why). Because I want to continue supporting you (working with you, serving you, etc.) at the highest level, I’d like to make some new agreements going forward.” Then gain agreement.*
When you do this, you take the emotional charge out of the request — cause you’re not blaming anyone for the past — and you gain buy-in for the new boundary.
*** I know that might sound a little strange — gaining agreement — since the whole thing with boundaries is that they’re YOURS. And, it helps to enroll other people in your new way of working by showing how it serves them too.***
Now you have the opportunity to set the new boundary, for example: “I’ll only be working during business hours from now on,” or “the best way to communicate with me going forward is via email, rather than text,” or “when you have a tech problem, please open a ticket…” You get the idea.
Hope that helps!! Try it and let me know what happens 🙂