The Work Life Blending Reality
When I first launched LW Branding, I was excited for the opportunity to be able to control my own schedule. I had spent five years in corporate America and was in a position where I averaged 65+ hours per week, while only getting paid for 40 of them (something definitely not abnormal in the working world). It was actually one of the reasons that motivated me to make the entrepreneurial leap. I figured that if I could take the same amount of time and effort, and apply it to something that was all mine, there was a good chance that I could build something amazing.
So, I jumped into creating LW Branding. And it was exciting! But then reality started to set in—I got more and more into the depths of what it really looks like to be a business owner, and I realized that I had absolutely zero control over my schedule. It was always either my clients or my team that got to dictate when I handled something. In those early years, I was working longer hours than I had worked in any previous job. And yes, it was for my dream, and my company, but like most entrepreneurs, I had to put in the hours to make it a reality.
Everything was elevated to a new level when I became a mom. I felt like I had to prove myself in this new role! No joke, I had my daughter on Friday and was back on my computer by Monday answering emails. Was it dedication or fear? Or was it fear masked as a smile and a quick comment of, ‘My door is always open!’ I was always scared that if I actually set boundaries and followed through on them that clients or employees would think less of me. That it was somehow my “superpower” to be everything for everyone. I’d answer the phone and respond to email at all times of the day or night. I wanted to be as available as possible but in return, this meant that I came last. It eventually all caught up with me, and I found myself resenting the very thing that I had worked so hard for—my company. I actually wanted a “normal” 9-5 job where I could do my work and then turn it off when I went home. My failure to set boundaries with the relationship between my time and my company led me to feel resentful.
“When we fail to set boundaries and hold people accountable, we feel used and mistreated.”
– Brene Brown
The Value in Boundaries
The problem wasn’t my career; it was me. I needed to acknowledge the value in setting boundaries for myself and for those around me. I had to set limits and set guidelines for myself, my family, and my business. I had to communicate those boundaries clearly to those around me. And I had to learn when to say “yes”, when to say “no”, and oftentimes these both had to start with a pause. Taking a moment to think about the invite or task at hand gives me time to make better choices that fit within my WHY and my goals. My boundaries may look different than yours. Maybe your boundary is that you won’t respond to emails on the weekends, but you set aside time on Monday morning to reply to any pertinent inbox requests. Maybe it’s the Do Not Disturb option on your phone while you’re out with your family. I challenge you to take a few minutes and identify areas in your business or personal life where you can set a boundary that’ll be live giving to you.
Knowing and communicating my boundaries to my family and my team allows them to respect my boundaries and gives them freedom to set their own. This action in and of itself shows leadership. I can’t lead well if I’m resenting my business. I’m a better person overall because I am confident in my boundaries. And the ability to be more present when I uphold them. In meetings I do not let myself reply to messages, I’m less distracted during my family time because I turn my phone off, and I’ve come to not feel guilty for taking time to focus on myself–whether that’s an hour a day, or a weeklong vacation. My boundaries add value to my time, my energy, and my resources, as well as to others in my life.
I’ll forever be a work in progress; but being able to take back control of my day—saying no, managing my calendar, taking the weekends off if I want to—is a product of a ton of hard work. I think it’s important to remind ourselves that we actually are in control of our life and of our time. Once boundaries are in place, you can confidently act on them, enjoying your time in business and in your personal life. What boundaries have you put in place to help bring balance to your time? I would love to hear any of these that have worked! If this is the first time you’re hearing about the value in setting boundaries, I encourage you to start thinking about what you want your boundaries to look like today!