Want to know the one word that’s saved my life and my sanity and been one of the major contributors to my success to separate me from the masses?
That word is boundaries.
What are Boundaries?
The meaning is pretty intuitive. Boundaries are something that separate something from something or someone else. So how does this apply to high-achieving women entrepreneurs? I’ll explain.
Boundaries are a key critical skill that you’ll need to develop and master in order to create the life you love, one that’s customized just for you.
What I’ve learned is that boundaries are the life skill that separates work ethic from workaholic. In order to become a high achiever, you need an incredible work ethic to match the size of your dream.
But if we don’t have those boundaries, the healthy separation, then our work ethic can slip into workaholic tendencies which means we work around the clock. It becomes our go-to mode of operation and we’re on all the time, constantly thinking about our business. Then we can’t turn it off.
Where Do We Need Boundaries?
You need boundaries between different areas in your life – the obvious one is between personal and professional life. But you also need boundaries between people.
It’s so important to have healthy boundaries to protect and preserve strong relationships. It might be a no-brainer that you have boundaries against toxic people who want to bring you down, but it’s also important to have them between healthy people.
That way, you can have space that protects and builds you up, and allows the same for those around you. Boundaries are what enable you to be generous and giving without becoming a doormat.
Boundaries Between Different Areas of Your Life
If you’ve been reading my blogs or watching my videos for a while, you’ll be familiar with my ‘eight lanes of life’. This is a concept that life is a highway with eight lanes. You’ve got:
- Spiritual life
- Family life
- Career/Professional life
- Personal development
- Physical health
- Financial health
- Social life & adventures
To truly reach fulfilment in our life, we want to be stretching and growing in each of these lanes. If we neglect one of them, we won’t feel truly, ultimately fulfilled. And, if we hyper focus on one lane at the expense of another, over time we’ll feel depleted.
Boundaries prevent us from being workaholics
Boundaries are what allow us to protect our big picture and not become hyper focused or overly obsessed with one area. In this example, we’re talking about avoiding workaholic tendencies.
That can be hard, especially as many of us grew up with family members or people around us working hard all the time, and the workaholic mentality now becomes a type of escapism.
If you want to unplug from your life, you don’t love what’s happening at home or you’re trying to avoid or deny something, it’s very easy for a lot of men, and also some women, to escape into work. This allows them to deny what’s happening around them as they focus on their job all the time.
On the flip side, if you’re really passionate and you’re working so hard to make a dream come true, then you can lose sight of the fact that you’re go, go, go in just one lane. Not only are you neglecting part of yourself, but you could be neglecting the people around you that you love and care about so much.
Boundaries are what allow us to make sure that we have clearly defined areas or perimeters so we don’t get sucked into one area over another.
How to Use Your Boundaries
Does this mean you have to be focused equally in all areas? No! Never! That’s why you’ll very rarely hear me use the word balance, because balance falsely implies that all things should be equal.
I prefer the word harmony instead because you’re making beautiful music between all these different lanes of your life. It’s totally normal with the ebb and flow of life that you’ll weave through and have ups and downs.
You’ll find yourself swinging in one direction and then swinging more in another direction to compensate. This could be throughout a year, a season or throughout your life.
When I’m working on big goals, I’ll usually be focused on two to three main lanes at a time. The others will be hanging out in the background. I don’t want to completely ignore them, but they’re not my main focus.
It usually looks like a juggling act – you’re focused on one lane but every so often you reach out and grab another so it doesn’t get dropped. Or you could think of it like an orchestra conductor:
He concentrates on one part of the orchestra, then he goes over to another, then grabs a third and brings them into the symphony. That’s exactly what you’re doing as the director of your life. You’re making sure that all the different areas are coming together to create the beautiful song of your life.
So, what happens when you’re in crunch mode? When you’re in startup or launch mode and you’re hyper-focused on short-term goals? It’s totally normal and expected that you would heavily lean into one area versus all the others. That’s perfectly ok, because you’re in sprint mode, not long-term marathon mentality.
For a season of life, it’s fine to focus on one lane. Sometimes, those seasons feel pretty long. When I was first starting my first business, I was focused on my career for three solid years.
A coach told me that if you work for two to three years like most people won’t, then you can live for the rest of your life like most people can’t.
I really took that to heart and was crystal clear on my endgame. So, I got my family on board and was a laser-focused machine for those three years.
How I used boundaries in the short term
Because it was a short-term sacrifice for long-term gain, it set up my life for what it looks like today. Had I not gone through that very intense season of short-term sacrifice, I would not have the quality of life I have today.
But even while I was in that focus mode, I still had to be able to unplug. I still had to invest in my family, and make sure that I was physically healthy. I had to have boundaries built in so that I didn’t get completely swept away.
After those intense seasons, then you go back and you make up for it. You lessen the gas in that area, and allow the pendulum to swing back in the other directions.
If you have family members in your life, then you want to have a conversation with them. Make sure you’ve got them onboard and you’re not neglecting the people you care about most.
Ask them what’s important to them and use the family dynamic. Set up a schedule and cycles, seasons of life and of the year, that will allow you to crank and coast. Remember, people support what they help to create.
When you’ve got your eyes focused and you’re looking through the filters of boundaries, you can be very clear and discerning on when to turn it on and when to turn it off.
Why You Need Self-Discipline
An element of self-discipline is involved here as well. In order to turn it off when you want, you have to be able to turn it on when it’s time to do so.
You need to couple these two things together – self-discipline and boundaries. They’ll become two sticks of dynamite creating an explosion of success in your life. And you can work to create the quality of life that you want.
That’s why you’re working so hard on your dream – for the life it will create for you in the long run. Constantly muster that self-discipline, but look clearly at healthy boundaries between the different people and different areas of your life.
This will make sure that you don’t sacrifice the forest for the trees. You won’t lose sight of the life you’re working so hard to create. You’ll have the boundaries in place to protect your relationships and your quality of life. And they will move you forward toward your dreams.