Boundaries may be the solution to that problem you just can’t put your finger on.
In life, and especially as a female entrepreneur.
As a mentor to female solopreneurs and small business owners, I see a lot of overwhelm in my mentees. And it’s no surprise.
In the small business world, especially for the one-woman-band, we have so many tasks to juggle. Trying to focus one eye on the micro-details of certain things, while keeping our other eye on the big picture, making sure we are still heading towards our end goals…. Phew! It’s no wonder things get blurry and confusing.
Then there are our other life responsibilities. As women, there are expectations on us to be caring, nurturing, and look after others. The multitasking Mompreneur tends to never switch off, because she feels that she can’t.
So, when do we get time to look after ourselves? Is anyone else seeing a conflict of interests here?
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying we can’t ‘do it all’. I’m simply saying that I understand where the overwhelm comes from. And when we are in a state of overwhelm, things are blurry and confusing. We know things are ‘off’, but we are not really sure why, because we don’t get a chance to step back and look at our situation with perspective.
We know we have problems, but we maybe can’t quite articulate what those problems are. Life is so crazy that we can’t see the forest for the trees.
We find ourselves thinking:
- If I had more hours in the day, I could do ‘x’
- If I had some help here and there, then the business would run smoother
- I need a housekeeper, virtual assistant, and a holiday
In the small business world, especially for the one-woman-band, we have so many tasks to juggle.
But then we start to overthink each point — overthinking being a delightful effect of overwhelm! We ration away the possibility of hiring a housekeeper or a VA, or taking a holiday. We can’t afford it, for example. So inside of our minds we take this long circular path that leads us back to where we started. Still too busy, and still without a solution.
I believe the answer, the route that takes you away from that circular path, is setting some basic boundaries. Yes ladies, it’s time to learn the magic word — NO.
This isn’t about being selfish, leaving your family to fend for themselves, or running away to an ashram for 3 months — as tempting as that might sound! This is about self-preservation, restoring some order, and speaking up for yourself.
It’s also about achieving the holy grail of business — having the headspace to step back and look strategically at your business as a whole, instead of working reactively, putting out fires wherever you look.
How to start? Get some support
If setting boundaries, or maintaining them, is tough for you, then your answer is to get some support. A mentor or a really good friend will call you out when they see your boundaries slipping away and your old patterns re-emerging.
What boundaries are appropriate?
So as I said before, this isn’t about avoiding responsibility or being ‘selfish’ in any way. This is about drawing a line around the time and space that you need in order to do what you need to do each day, in peace and with focus, so that your workday can be productive.
When we have clear boundaries around our workspace, work doesn’t have to creep into our evenings, our family time.
Trust me, I know that when you can be present with your family for meals and spend quality time together, they feel the benefit. In this way, the boundaries you set work both ways. Work gets done during work time, and family has you all to themselves when it’s family time. And this is exactly why it’s not selfish to set boundaries — it’s really smart!
Work gets done during work time, and family has you all to themselves when it’s family time.
So as we’ve seen, a little boundary setting at work has obvious benefits. A little boundary setting to protect your family time has benefits… Now who are we forgetting?…
Ah yes, the person that the super-busy Mompreneur always puts last! Please do not forget to set a boundary or two just for you.
Not only do you richly deserve some ‘you’ time, but I feel it is critical to our happiness and life satisfaction. And before the protests about ‘selfishness’ rear their heads, let me just say this.
You cannot pour from an empty cup. When you are rested and happy, you have better interactions with your friends, family, and work associates. When you are happy, everyone in your world feels it.
When I take a time-out for myself to meditate or take a hot bubble bath, I know that I’ll return to my regular duties refreshed and present. I want to bring my best to every situation, which means I have to refuel and replenish myself.
Originally published at www.huffingtonpost.com on September 28, 2017.