Ok my friend, let’s talk boundaries – why you need them and how they can help you manage your energy and your business in really beautiful ways.
If you’re empathic or energetically sensitive like me, you might like to imagine your boundaries as a lovingly protective bubble that helps you look after your clients and yourself, while you grow your business.
But before we dig into specific areas of your business that might really benefit from some boundaries, let’s cover off a few important things first.
What Are Boundaries
Think of your boundaries as the things you will and won’t do in your business, and they work in two awesome ways.
One – they let people know:
- What to expect from you.
- When to expect it.
- And how to expect it.
And two – they help you work in a way that works for you (the right boundaries can support you to stay energised, creative, organised and in flow).
Why You Need Boundaries
Boundaries are so important for the health and sustainability of your energy AND your business.
Think about it, if you have zero boundaries around how many clients you take on, how full you let your calendar and your inbox get, how quickly you reply to emails or how much time you spend online, you’re going to burn yourself out, and fast.
And I say that from experience.
When I started my business, I had no boundaries at all and I totally burnt myself out – which was definitely not sustainable, profitable or fun.
But when you set boundaries and share them with your community, you find that sweet spot where people know what to expect from you AND you can work in a way that keeps you energised, inspired and in your groove in your business.
And that equals happy community, happy clients and happy you.
A Few Important Things About Boundaries
ONE :: recap – boundaries let people know what to expect from you (helpful for them and for you).
TWO :: YOU get to set the boundaries (yep, that’s right. You get to choose. And you can set any and as many boundaries as best serve YOU).
THREE :: It’s easier to set people’s expectations than it is to change them, so I encourage you to set boundaries early on in your business and make sure that you stick to them.
I learned this the hard way. I had no boundaries, I was online all the time, and I replied to messages and emails straight away.
I was chasing my tail and I felt behind ALL THE TIME.
Not only that, I was training people to expect that from me, because that’s what they were getting.
When I finally set some boundaries, there were a few ruffled feathers because I went from ALWAYS available to only being available in business hours, but people got used to it and I felt way better because of it.
FOUR :: your boundaries can help guide your decision making so that you’re honouring your vision and your actual availability, instead of getting caught up in FOMO, overcommitting or overwhelming yourself, or saying yes to everything.
FIVE :: YOU get to choose your boundaries (yep, I know, I said it before but I REALLY want you to know with every fibre of your being that YOUR boundaries are YOUR choice). You have permission to set boundaries that serve and support you, so that you can best serve and support your clients (affirm it with me HERE).
Choose Your Boundaries
So let’s dig into the specifics now and talk about a few areas of your business that might benefit some loving and intentional boundaries.
Do you have office hours in your business? And if you do, do you let people know what they are?
This was something I totally overlooked when I first started coaching.
I didn’t want to miss out on any opportunities so I worked crazy hours, 7 days a week and I was pretty much always available.
Setting and communicating your office hours (whether you do it via your website, in your email signature, in your client booking software, or other ways that are right for your business) lets your clients know things like:
- When you’re online and available to connect.
- When they can book in a consultation or session with you.
- When you don’t work or when you’re not available.
Plus, having office hours creates space for that all important rest, relaxation and recharge time that helps you be a happier, healthier and more productive person in yourself, in your personal life and in your business.
Coaching or Consultations
If you offer coaching or other meeting-based services where you connect with clients online or in person, it’s really important to think about your boundaries around these services.
Getting clear about things like how many clients you’ll work with, what your consulting or coaching days and times are, and what booked out means to you is really important because it gives you full control of your calendar and what a week in your business will actually look like.
Plus, it means you’re tapping into YOUR vision for a dream biz and life (not someone else’s) and it allows you to play to your strengths, work with your natural energy rhythms and work in a way that feels great for you.
BB (before boundaries) I’d shape my schedule around my client enquiries and I’d often find myself getting up at 6am or 7am on a Saturday to work with a client on the other side of the world (even though I’m NOT a morning person). I’d book calls late in the evening when I’d promised myself some chill time with my boyfriend. Or I’d book back to back calls without leaving any breathing room, time for a lunch break or time to even go to the bathroom between sessions. Definitely NOT my idea of a dream business.
Once I figured out what felt great for me, and allowed me work WITH my energy flow, (and love of sleep ins) instead of against it, I started to really enjoy coaching and I felt like my days flowed and energised me, rather than stressed and drained me.
This is a big one because so many of us get side tracked by the constant stream of notifications on our phone or computer, so it’s a great idea to set boundaries around your interaction with your inbox.
Think about how you can create some breathing room (and maybe even some systems) for your inbox.
It might be as simple as letting people know to expect a 2-business day turnaround or setting up an autoresponder to answer frequently asked questions and reassure clients they’ll hear from you within office hours.
Even these small steps can buy you some time and mean you’re not living in your inbox.
Or it might feel great to you to only check emails in the afternoon so you can do your creative work in the morning.
Or you might decide that you won’t check your inbox again after 4pm.
Decide what feels right for you and don’t be afraid to experiment or take your new boundary for a test drive to make sure it actually works for you.
Hands up if you spend waaaaay too much time scrolling social media and calling it work, or research, or inspiration, or connecting?
Yep I’m guilty of that too, but I’m getting better at setting social media boundaries.
How that looks for me is I try to choose one to two blocks of time each day where I post or interact.
And, because it’s so easy to lose a tonne of time and get really caught up on social media, I like to say don’t pick up your phone without a plan.
This is extra important if you’re off your mindset game too because social media can trigger all of the self-doubts and self-judgments and really mess with your confidence and creativity.
Scheduling and/or being really intentional about the time you spend on social media is a mental health must but again it has the added benefit of letting your community know what to expect from you. It gives them an idea of how often you’ll post or go live, how often you’ll interact and roughly the times you’re online so that they can connect with you. And I know this isn’t quite as relevant on some platforms now as they’re not all showing posts or content chronologically, but it’s definitely relevant for things like livestreaming.
The Wrap Up
Ok, so, that should get you started.
If you want to dig into your boundaries even more, check out the journaling prompts, or the affirmations, or book a coaching session and we can talk about the boundaries that will best serve you and your business as it grows.
And remember, knowing that things aren’t quite how you’d like them to be is the first step to making change.
You might not hit on the magic formula the first time but if you give yourself permission to start experimenting with your boundaries, you’ll find the ones that best support you, so you can best support your clients and customers, and grow the beautiful business of your dreams.
P.S. Listen to the podcast episode where I talk with Patty Kikos about setting and communicating boundaries that work for you.