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As a coach, I must practice what I preach, and lately, I’m preaching and practicing boundaries to myself, specifically work-time boundaries. I love working, but this love comes with a downside: my family often gets the short end of the stick.
So I set a boundary around my work.
This work-time boundary means I won’t work between certain evening hours so I can focus on my husband and four kids. I look at our family calendar in advance so I know how the week looks activity-wise then I remind myself of my work-time boundary. Sticking to this boundary empowers me to connect with my kids, keep up with the house, unwind, be present, and at peace. The key to living the simple life I want involves setting and sticking to my boundaries.
What a Boundary Is and Isn’t
Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend best describe boundaries in their book Boundaries with Kids, “A boundary is a ‘property line’ that defines a person; it defines where one person ends and someone else begins. If we know where a person’s boundaries are, we know what we can expect this person to take control of: himself or herself.”
A boundary gives freedom. You are free to be present with your kids. To show up to what’s important to you. To allow you to live the life you want to lead. To live out the priorities you predetermined.
A boundary isn’t mean, unfair, heartless, or selfish. In fact, boundaries may be the most loving, kind, generous way to live the life God called you to.
Four Boundaries You Need in Your Life
To live the life you want to lead — a life of simplicity and one in alignment with your priorities — boundaries are non-negotiable. As a business owner, you’re bursting with a thousand ideas, a never-ending to-do list, and administrative tasks that don’t magically complete themselves. The secret sauce to finding the time you need to live the simple life you want means setting boundaries in these four areas.
1. Calendar Boundaries
Calendar boundaries allow you to predetermine how your family will spend time. How you spend your time shows how you prioritize your life. What does your current calendar say about what you value?
In our four-child family, my husband works and I work from home so our family needs calendar boundaries, meaning we set discerning limits about how we spend our time.
2. Client Boundaries
Client boundaries give you the freedom to welcome and limit the clients best for you. As a business owner, you want to grow and build strategically. Think through whether it’s important to you to have clients who share your values and what types of clients you find easy and difficult.
In my life, when I’ve gone outside my boundaries and against what God instructed, it has never worked out well. Set client boundaries and then stick with them.
3. Work-Time Boundaries
Work-Time boundaries simply give you permission to give your business the time and attention it needs to do the work you need to do. Work-time boundaries are critical get done what you promised your clients.
In my work, I need time to write, record podcasts, and work in and on my business. To do all this while working from home with four children, I block off time each day to get work done. Very little interferes with my work time. Because work-time is already blocked off on my calendar, it’s highly unlikely a random event or activity will bump it out of place.
4. Influencer Boundaries
Influencer boundaries give you the authority to decide who advises and mentors you. Boundaries are for your own good as you determine who you can confide in, trust, and has the authority to speak into your life.
Because my time is limited, I’m very careful about who has the right to influence how I parent, work, and live simply. It’s not easy and I’ve learned lessons the hard way, but selectivity about who I befriend and select as a mentor has served me well.
How to Set Boundaries
You want boundaries in your life, but how do you go about setting them? Follow this simple strategy to implement real-life, practical strategies in your own life:
- Pray. Ask God for wisdom on where you need boundaries and what boundaries to set.
2. Cultivate self-awareness. What about work (or housekeeping or a mother-child relationship) feels difficult right now? Where are you overtaxed? What do you need, but lack in your life right now?
- Think through what you want life to be like right now. How can your real-life include your ideals, priorities, and values?
3. Set your boundary. Just like a goal, your boundary must be clear, actionable, and specific. Share your new boundary with your family, friends, employees, or clients. Inform everyone impacted by your boundary so they can honor it.
- Take personal accountability to do what you said. Now that you’ve set the boundary, make sure you follow through with it. However, holding yourself accountable gets tricky so you may need a coach.
4. Bring a coach on your team. A coach holds you accountable to your predetermined boundaries and works with you so you don’t stay stuck. As I coach clients, I ask them what about the boundary isn’t working so we can …
- Reassess the boundary. The initial boundary may not work in real life. A coach will help you assess what’s working, what’s not, and how to get unstuck.
Setting Boundaries Gives You Freedom
Boundaries set you free. When you set boundaries on your calendar, clients, work-time, and influencers, you won’t be tossed about chasing after the next trend, new idea, shiny object, or potential connection. Boundaries serve you well by taking your limited time and channeling it toward your priorities.
Getting distracted and going with the flow shouldn’t be your normal. Choose your priorities and the type of life you want then set boundaries so you’re free to live the life you’ve imagined.
If you’d like to coach one on one with me and work on boundaries and other areas of life, fill out the form below and schedule a time to chat with me to see if it would be a great fit.