I believe that when we have our boundaries dialed in and working properly for us, that we become the best versions of ourselves. And that makes us more effective as moms, business owners, and in all of the other areas of our lives. Today we’re chatting about how to identify boundaries that aren’t working and three things to consider instead. If that sounds like something you need, then you’re in the right place. Let’s jump right in.
Links for This Episode
- Enroll in the Mama Business Blueprint
- Schedule your Mama Business Strategy Session
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Podcast Episode Recommendations
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- #86: 3 Strategies to Help You Maintain Boundaries with Clients
- #85: Do You Trust Yourself to Make the Right Decisions for YOU?
- #69: 6 Difficult Lessons I’ve Learned After 6 Years as a Mama Business Owner
- #56: What’s Important? 3 Ways to Find Clarity When You Just Don’t Know
Need Help with Strategy?
Before we jump into this episode, I wanted to let you know that I have just a few more openings for Mama Business Strategy Sessions this month. Here’s the deal: in order to have a successful business, you have to have paying clients and customers. That means, knowing who your ideal client is and how to reach them, understanding why your client should choose you over the competition, and designing marketing systems that work to generate leads – over and over again – without sacrificing your family. That’s exactly what a one-hour Mama Business Strategy is designed to help you do. After the session, you’ll be able to make your first sale (or 10th) without feeling salesy, sleazy, or annoying everyone you know on social media. Overcome decision paralysis when it comes to the practical and technical side of running your business. And sleep well at night knowing you don’t have to do “all the things” in order to be successful. Plus, you’ll know the next right action step to take to jumpstart the next phase of your business life. Sound like something you need? Schedule your session today at sarahbrumley.com/strategy.
Are Your Boundaries Working? 3 Things to Consider When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed
Well hey there and welcome back to another episode of the Mama Business Podcast. I’m your host, Sarah Brumley, and I’m so happy you’ve joined me today for this discussion about boundaries. Specifically, those boundaries we have or think we have that just aren’t working – and what to do when we’re just plain feeling overwhelmed.
If you’re listening to this episode in real time, then you know that there hasn’t been a podcast episode in four weeks. FOUR weeks. It seems like a lifetime of things have happened in that time frame, but the reality is that it’s summer break for my entire family so I’ve the had the opportunity to spend a lot of time just relaxing with them, working on some major house projects we needed to get done – painting, plumbing, fixing flooring, you name it. And it feels good to have those things – mostly! – accomplished. And we are getting ready to head back into the fall feeling refreshed and ready to conquer the school year.
The best part about taking a break, I think, is that it really illuminates those things in life that actually matter. Whether those are things that matter to you, personally, your family, your business, your dreams, whatever it might be. I think a lot of times we end up in business or life or whatever it is, kinda in a pattern of just doing the day in day out type of stuff without necessarily recognizing when things aren’t working well. But when we take a break, when we turn off the phone, shut down the social media, take away the opportunity for constant contact with our email, and just focus on being in the moment, it’s those times that help us clarify our purpose for doing what we are doing, and recognize the things that are holding us back from truly achieving our dream.
And for me, I’ve really noticed the past few months that I’ve been feeling overwhelmed, feeling like I’m drowning a little bit in some of the pieces of my life and business. And, I can say with complete certainty that the reason for that feeling of overwhelm is directly related to the boundaries I was either not setting or not adhering to.
So that’s exactly why I want to spend some time really digging into boundaries today. Because, I believe that when we have our boundaries dialed in and working properly for us, that we become the best versions of ourselves. And that makes us more effective as moms, business owners, and in all of the other areas of our lives. Plus, we enjoy all of those things so much more. At least I know I do, and I’m hopeful that it’s the same for you.
Signs Your Boundaries Aren’t Working
To begin with, let’s talk about a few of the signs that your boundaries aren’t working for you. And, keep in mind that this not an exhaustive list, but it’ll probably help you identify in yourself some of the areas that might be suffering due to lack of boundaries.
If you don’t have effective boundaries in place, you likely start to feel:
- Claustrophobic – like the entire world is starting to close in on you.
- Resentful – of your phone, of interruptions, of people
- Tired all of the time
- Turning to substances, food, or other “feel-good” activities that aren’t actually good for you
Any of those ring true?
When these feelings are coming up consistently, it’s a pretty good indicator that something is off with your boundaries. That you either haven’t set a boundary that you need in a given situation OR that you aren’t keeping and demanding respect around the boundaries that you do have.
Now I don’t say any of this so that you’ll beat yourself up over it. I just want you to know the indicators. Because the truth is that when we continue in this pattern of behavior – without adhering to boundaries, that’s when we find ourselves on the path to burnout. To giving up. To not achieving those dreams that really matter.
So, knowing that, let’s jump into the three things I want you to consider as you are contemplating your boundaries or lack thereof. And, I’m going to give you examples from my own life so that you can understand how you might apply these concepts to your own life and business.
Step #1: Boundaries Give You Freedom
The first thing I want you to consider is that boundaries give you freedom. Now this might sound a little counterproductive because we often think of boundaries as something that holds us back – like a fence or a guardrail. But the truth is that those boundaries actually allow us the freedom to do the things that we want and need to do in order to be successful.
I drew a boundary about a year ago that I was only going to take on certain projects in my business for clients. So, I take on website design for service providers, systems set up in the form of customer relationship management platforms – like Dubsado – and then I also set up email marketing platforms. These are the things I know with complete certainty move the needle for my ideal clients, and knowing that I don’t have a problem saying no to other one-off projects like e-commerce or paid ads or anything along those lines. *
It’s a boundary I drew, because it’s a boundary I needed to have for myself and because of that boundary, I’m able to provide the best results to the clients I work with.
How does that boundary give me freedom? Well, this last week I actually had a call with a potential client. He signed up on my website and said he needed a website design and I met with him to talk about his project. Without getting into the specifics, he was interested in an e-commerce site and was really needing help with inventory management. That’s not something I do and because I know that, I was able to quickly let him know that our working together wasn’t going to be a good fit and give him recommendations for other options going forward.
Did I miss out on having him as a client and getting paid for the project he was offering me? We could look at it that way, but I know that if I’d taken on his project, I’d have likely felt resentment and frustration with it as it progressed. And – it’s not about e-commerce being bad, because it’s definitely not – I’ve done plenty of e-commerce sites in the past, but in this case, I know that my current business SOPs are not set up to manage a project like that. I use specific systems and they are not necessarily conducive to product based business. And that’s okay. In fact, it’s better than okay – it’s great. Because I know what works for my ideal client – the service based entrepreneur.
So, recognizing the tradeoffs, the expense of completing a project like that one, the time involved, the likely need for additional child care or tech in order to complete it – by having a boundary in place, I had the freedom to say no and I absolutely did.
On the flip side of that on that same day, I had a call with another potential client. Same thing – he signed up on my website, checked the box for website design and management services, and we met on a call to discuss the details. As a service provider, he needed help optimizing his current website as well as ongoing management of it. Absolutely fits within my business offerings and is something that I love to do because I know that I can get him the best results possible.
So, you can easily understand that setting this type of boundary allows you to say no to the things that aren’t a good fit so that you can have the FREEDOM to say yes to other things. To projects you actually want. To things that fit within your existing scope of work. To the clients and missions that resonate with you.
And on the personal side, you can say yes to the things that matter most because you aren’t tied up in projects or commitments that you resent.
So, first and foremost. Boundaries give you freedom.
Step #2: Boundaries Aren’t The Same for Everyone
The second thing to consider is that boundaries won’t and shouldn’t necessarily be the same for everyone. I feel like this one should be a no-brainer, and yet how many times do we look around at other people and think, well, she doesn’t have that boundary and she’s okay or she can do that thing and she’s okay. So, why do I need a boundary around it?
And that’s a valid question, and yet it all comes down to you. To what you need to be successful in any area of your life.
Let’s use social media as an example – it’s a common struggle for many.
Some people need to draw a hard line around social media. They close their account because they know that they can’t be trusted to scroll endlessly, to get caught up in the drama, to compare themselves to others, or to neglect their kiddos while they do all of the above. They have to close the account and eliminate the temptation altogether.
Others, might still need to draw a hard line in the form of removing it from their devices. It’s not completely gone, but it’s very hard to access.
Others still, might be able to adhere to self-imposed restrictions on it, such as not accessing it when their kids are awake or only looking at it during a certain time of day.
And then there are those that don’t struggle with it. That don’t see an effect on their day to day lives and because of that, they don’t need to set themselves a boundary around social media. They just use it responsibly.
You can see that those varying situations all require a different type of boundary. And, of course, there will likely be other variations of boundaries related to social media as well. It all depends on what you need in order to be successful.
In my case, I really don’t use social media itself much at all for anything, but I have really used the messenger or DMs end of it and clients or potential clients often want to reach out to me that way. Because of it, I can’t have social media on my phone at all. That’s the same for work email, too. I’m not good with boundaries. When someone reaches out and there’s a notification – it pops up on my phone and says, “hey I’m having problems with this” or “can you answer this quick question”, then that’s exactly where my brain is until I do so. And…that’s not fair to my family who also wants my undivided attention and it’s not fair to myself either. I need a break when I’m not actually working, so I’ve drawn a hard line and taken those things off of my phone and only access them from my work computer.
And honestly, while I check my work email frequently during work days, I don’t check in on social media more than one per week or every other week. Because I know that it’s a distraction for me and it zaps my energy. So, that’s another boundary that I’ve had to set around it.
While that might be a good example of a boundary we set around something that is possibly not good for us, there are also times we need to set boundaries on things that ARE good for us. For example, scheduling a certain time each day to exercise – a time that never gets allocated to something else. Or setting a time to get to the grocery store each week so that you make good food choices and don’t order in – thus keeping you healthy and ensuring your budget remains intact.
A friend of mine leaves her bottle of vodka at a friend’s home just so that she doesn’t drink alone. She has a glass of something when they get together, but otherwise, she goes home to her own house and doesn’t feel tempted by it. That’s her boundary.
So, you can see that the sky is the limit. But ultimately, all of this to say that the boundaries you set or need to set won’t look identical to the boundaries someone else is setting for themselves.
Step #3: Boundaries Are Often Seasonal
The third thing to consider is that boundaries are often seasonal. In fact, I’d like to say that most of the boundaries you have – not all, but most – will change, even slightly over the different seasons of your life.
Childcare or the lack thereof can create the need for boundaries you wouldn’t otherwise have. In my case, when it was just my older girls, I could work anytime during the school day and even sometimes when they were home and occupied. With a toddler at home now, I don’t have that luxury, which means that my working hours are very closely tied into my childcare hours. So, I have to set boundaries around which projects I can take and what my deadlines are based on the time I have available. There’s nothing wrong with that – it’s a season – but it’s also a season that I want to be successful in – personally and professionally – and that means setting strong boundaries around that time.
We often set boundaries around vacations or times off from school, right? These might be family boundaries regarding how much time can be spent on devices or how much time we spend outside or how many activities we can have in one week. There’s also the idea of going on vacation and setting a screen free boundary or a work-free boundary.
Personally, and this definitely goes back to kids, our family draws a strict boundary around nap times and bedtimes. They happen at the same time each and every day and we rarely deviate from that – no matter what the activity might be. That’s a boundary that’s not going to last forever, but for now it really matters to us and honestly I love the fact that we’ve clearly stated that boundary for ourselves. Because our kids get the sleep they need and we don’t have to think about it on a case-by-case basis. Instead, it’s a blanket no to anything during that time frame that poses a threat to them getting the sleep they need. That, mama, is freedom at it’s best.
So, before you think of those boundaries being the end all for your entire life, remember that a lot of the boundaries we set are seasonal. They are meant for a time so that we can be successful during that season. And, that’s what we want, right? Success – at home, in life, and in business.
Are Your Boundaries Working?
And that brings us to the action part of this episode. And we all know that action is where the dreams turn into the reality. And today’s action step is this:
ACTION: I want you to think about your life, the season of life you are in, the responsibilities you currently have, your dreams or goals, and the ways that you might feel overwhelmed or frustrated or just plain out of sorts. What boundaries have you set that you aren’t sticking to? What boundaries do you need that would allow you the freedom that you desire? The freedom to say no to the things that will be a detriment. The freedom to say yes to the things that really matter, that will really make a difference for you long term.
Because those feelings of overwhelm, frustration, and resentment don’t benefit you. In fact, I’ll dare to say that they are leading you straight toward burnout. And no one wants that. So, today, take some time to prioritize what matters and then put those healthy boundaries in place so that you can be successful – at home, in business, and in life.
If you’re struggling with this when it comes to business, that’s what I’m here for. Grab a Mama Business Strategy Session and let’s chat about how to help you put boundaries in place that you can carry with you going forward. Boundaries that will give you the freedom you need and desire so that you can achieve those big dreams you have. If that sounds like something you need, head to sarahbrumley.com/strategy to get on my calendar.
In the meantime, mama, just know that I’m cheering you on. You’ve got this! Have an amazing day and I’ll chat with you again soon.