Boundaries are HUGELY important…but for many of us, they may be nonexistent, unclear, or difficult to enforce. The first step in changing that is to recognize where there’s a need for change.
I have always been someone who liked doing things for others. Living a service-focused life makes me happy, and this extends from my business through my personal life. If a friend needs to chat, I will respond…even if I’m busy. If someone needs help with something, I will do my best to step up and be there. And on one hand, I LOVE this about myself. But on the other? It can be a HUGE problem if I don’t set boundaries around my time and energy. For example…as a coach, people are often drawn to me, especially if they intuitively know that I am able to hold space for them in ways that others may not be trained to do. And while I love that people see that in me and want to be around me, I have had experiences where I’ve had relationships in which people began to want and need more and more of “Coach Becky” than “friend Becky.” And while I LOVE to support others, every now and then I’ve found myself in situations where it’s felt like the person wanted more coaching than friendship. And while I get it (I mean, who WOULDN’T want a free life coach on call 24/7?!), it also helped me see that I needed to create boundaries around my time.
For example, if a friend calls to chat and says “Hey, I’d love your input on xyz,” that’s great! I’m happy to discuss it! But if he or she immediate starts saying things like “I need an hour of your time to action plan around xyz” or “Can you help me figure out the mindset block I’m having?” then I know they’re actually in need of a coach, not a friend. And while I DO offer pro bono coaching from time to time as part of my business model, I have learned that I need to maintain separation between personal and professional relationships…so I need to respectfully remind friends seeking coaching that it is not in integrity for me to unofficially coach someone for free when I charge clients for that same service. As someone whose life/work motto is “Love Self, Serve Others,” setting this boundary can be challenging…but I know that if I don’t, I am compromising my ability to be effective in ANY area of my life.
One of the topics that comes up most often for women is the struggle to find the time to do the things they want or need to do for themselves. And what I’ve learned is that this is rarely a TIME problem and almost always a BOUNDARY problem. You see, women especially are taught to give…to partners, children, friends, family, community…the list goes on. But they are very rarely taught how to set boundaries around their time and energy…which means they often give and give until they have nothing left to give to anyone…including themselves.
The problem with this is that the old saying about not pouring from an empty vessel is true! I had a client who was so overwhelmed with all the things she had to do for others that she couldn’t even imagine finding time for herself. But once we worked through what was going on and she was able to carve out time for herself? Not only was she able to show up for herself…she was able to show up better for others! And the best part? When she messaged me to tell me she was relaxing outside reading a book….and FULLY enjoying herself without guilt😊
As you reflect on your own life, the boundaries you have, and the ones you don’t, I wonder… What is one boundary you don’t currently hold that might be a game-changer for you?