Have you got good boundaries in place?
There are a few questions I get asked over and over again in my work around connecting and building community:
"How long can I wait before responding to messages? I feel like an immediate response is always needed but I'm busy doing my actual work and I just can't get to emails etc straight away."
"How much time should I spend on connecting with people? I want to be more connected but I feel like it will take up too much of my time."
"What do I do if I don't want to be connected to someone who wants to be connected to me?"
"How can I be open and loving with my audience, but still do the things my business needs - like chasing up payments and getting people to actually commit to working with me? I often don't send out reminder emails etc because I know that someone's been ill or moved house and I don't want to add to their burden."
Can you relate?
The answer to all these questions lies in how you define your boundaries. Creating, setting and upholding your own boundaries means that you'll know exactly how to handle issues like this when they come up.
I've been there too - before I took the time to define my boundaries, problems like this were driving me crazy, and I knew it was a (not so) subtle form of self-sabotage - the need to always be seen as nice, kind, considerate, and not in any way needy or desperate or (whisper it) pushy. Something had to give.
The solution? Boundaries.
The first step on my road to recovery was taking a serious step back and separating my SELF from my BUSINESS. I took my feelings out of the equation and started thinking like a CEO: what does my business, as a separate entity from me, need to survive and thrive?
The answer was simple - it needed boundaries. Rules, procedures, systems, and processes that were clearly defined and communicated, and could operate independently of my personal ups and downs.
Here are some of the boundaries I've put in place to support my business so I can be all soft, loving and squidgy-hearted with my peeps. Things like:
Actually making use of all the features in my CRM system, Dubsado (affiliate link), and setting up automatic follow-ups, proposal expiry dates, reminders and more (I freaking LOVE Dubsado so much!).
Setting up policies and procedures for my biz in a way that they operate independently from me and my day-to-day emotions (hence the automations).
Clearly stating my availability, response times, and policies on my website and with my clients as part of the on-boarding process.
Giving myself more time to answer emails and messages - there is rarely anything so urgent it can't wait a day (or even a week in some cases) for a response.
Restricting my availability for calls to only two days a week.
Only doing live events a couple of times a year.
Taking Mondays off as my Introvert (recovery) Day.
Taking regular screen-free, analogue only days (working on it - why is this so hard?!).
Not talking about some aspects of my life publicly, on social media etc. Keeping things primarily business-focused, with a dollop of personality on top.
Saying no to anything (or anyone) that isn't a HELL YES!
Putting myself first - my physical and mental health are my top priorities, even when there are a million demands on my time and energy.
Clearly defining what I consider to be unacceptable behaviour from the people I interact with (i.e. racism, homophobia, transphobia, disrespect, unkindness, bullying etc) and coming up with ways of dealing with it before it actually happens.
All this means that I can continue to show up and be friendly and close to my clients and potential clients. I can know what's going on in their lives, and celebrate or commiserate with them. In fact, I can actually give much MORE of myself, which means that the relationships I build within my business community are deep and genuine.
The result is that I end up with clients that feel like friends (the best sort of clients, don't you agree?) and a community of peeps that I adore, safe in the knowledge that my business (and my boundaries) can support us all in having healthy, reciprocal, mutually beneficial relationships.
My boundaries are the spine which supports my softer parts. Without them my biz (and I) would just be a messy puddle on the floor!
What about you?
How good you are at creating and sticking to your boundaries? Is there anything on your list that isn't on mine?
This post originally appeared in my Sunday Letter - to get more cool stuff like this delivered to your inbox every Sunday morning sign up here.