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Learning to Stick to Your Own Boundaries

Lifestyle Management
Do you ever have difficulty saying “no?” I was excited when this question came up during my recent Bossladies chat, in the context of managing your business’s project workload and feeling the pressure to take on everything. This is something I’ve very much been struggling with—this cycle of overextending myself until I reach a period of burnout. But I’m actively trying to improve this, and was happy to share what’s helped me so far.
Author Jessica Comingore

At the root of it, I believe, is a scarcity mindset that there’s a finite number of clients interested in us, and we cannot pass up any of those opportunities since new ones won’t come along. But believing in abundance is crucial to achieving balance in business.

Here are a few steps I’ve been taking that have been working for me:

Always remember to pause

As business owners running from one project to the next, many of us don’t take much time to pause and breathe. Between tasks, between projects, between clients, it’s important to have breathing room in your life and business. Taking time in the moment to stop, think, and reflect before acting can improve both your decisions as well as your confidence in them.

This is something I have been trying to remember to do more often, given that I have somewhat of a reactionary nature. If I’m asked to do something, I’ll instinctively feel like I have to do it. But remembering to pause gives me a moment to remind myself that I am my own boss, I am in control of my schedule, and I have the freedom to assert myself.

Build windows into decision-making

To help beat my reactionary nature at work, I try to implement a waiting period before making any big choices: after a new email or inquiry, wait 24 hours before making a decision. Sometimes in business, a quick decision made in 30 minutes can impact your life and well-being every day for months to come. This practice forces us to spend more time with our decisions before finalizing them.

In this time, you can ask yourself whether or not you truly have time for the project, if it’s something you really want to work on, and how it aligns with your own end-goals as a business owner. Come up with real questions and criteria for this, and walk yourself through the possible repercussions of your possible choices before you fully land on one. In doing so, you should have an easier time saying “no” to the things that truly don’t suit your career and vision for your life.

Consider how things serve yourself vs. others

Finally, this last tip was recommended to me by a fantastic business coach. She suggested I ask myself how different opportunities serve myself instead of only the other people involved. If you’re a service provider, I’m sure you battle the same conflict that I do around feeling like you always need to be serving others.

But serving others should not come with the trade-off of neglecting ourselves, whether that’s the rest of our business, our self-care, or our family. When you do have a bigger vision for your life and your work than where you’re currently at, keeping your ideal future in mind and working in a way that supports that as well as your clients is the only way you’ll achieve your goals.

As I mentioned before, my advice comes from my own personal challenges with boundaries, so I am no expert myself. If you feel confident staying true to the limits you set for yourself, I’d love to hear your own advice in the comments.

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