You hear a message notification and it reads “hey do you have a min?”
Whatever plans you had for yourself are immediately shifted or cancelled as you enter a highly reactive and anxious state. Obviously your needs are not as important as your inbox.
Your partner, friends or family just don’t get it. You have the opportunity of a lifetime here. You need to prove yourself no matter the cost.
We live in a world where most people prioritize work and other’s needs over themselves. I don’t fully blame them. I blame companies and leadership who never question outdated principles or fear prioritizing employee happiness more.
I blame others who disrespect other people’s boundaries because they have no respect for their own boundaries.
But also, we are the most to blame for choosing to disrespect ourselves with everything we accept knowing well it didn’t feel right.
I’ve been 100% guilty of this before.
I’ve slept with my phone under my pillow to be verbally abused, take marketing requests coming in at 11pm, and then getting up in my pajamas to power through assembling whatever urgent marketing material was needed.
I’ve been the person people take advantage of their willingness to help (or more like inability to say not now) while never asking how I am doing.
I’ve lived in a state of constant notification-induced tension where I felt my back pocket vibrate as if I got a new email notification because I was so used to my phone going off and off and off again. But really, nothing vibrated. I imagined it because it was eerily calm for me…
The one most difficult yet most positively meaningful thing that has changed my personal life and my career are boundaries.
You might need to spend time to know yourself and your needs well enough to create boundaries and actually respect them.
You might need to set boundaries if you experience things like:
- a single incoming notification that’s really not that important but you feel you need to reply to show how committed you are to your work even outside of working days and hours.
- a friendly face asks for a quick favor you feel you’d be a jerk to deny because it’s only 30-ish minutes of your time.
- you have emotional vampires in your life who are constantly unable to regulate their own emotions and expect you to drop it all to save them multiple times a week.
- a friend who always wants to come over (and unannounced lol this is one of my nightmares) when really you just want to be alone to recharge but also don’t want to disappoint them.
- people who book non-urgent meetings that could’ve been a slack message or try to book them over time you blocked off for yourself but you feel weird saying no.
Our highly tense and reactive world feels this way because we live in fear of being judged as lazy, inadequate, not being fit for the role. Being busy is a status symbol.
And if we briefly exit the state of constant tension and experience peacefulness it’s short lived. It’s unfamiliar. We begin to wonder what’s wrong? You cast judgements on yourself for not doing enough.
And in some extremes, the peacefulness becomes stressful. So you look for something to keep busy because enjoying your own company and reflecting doesn’t feel like doing something. Or maybe the lack of action causes thoughts to surface you would rather not deal with.
What does this have to do with content?
Because boundaries affect your life as a whole in terms of how happy, productive, and healthy you are.
Before I accept any new calendar invites on a Monday, I like to give myself all the yesses I owe myself to be at peak performance (in terms of happiness, health, and productivity) before I say yes to anyone else.
Here’s what my Google calendar looks like before I accept new commitments
I care that I get to:
- Eat a home-cooked healthy lunch at a consistent time
- Exercise or go for a walk around 4pm
- Cook and have dinner with my husband
- Sprinkle in some focused work time slots where nobody can book me for a meeting because I’m in the zone getting work done. I find as the company grows I get more notifications and tend to get distracted by them so I usually turn notifications off and can only be reached when you @ me if its urgent.
Now it’s easy to book in what you want your day and week to look like.
The hard part is respecting it. And this goes not just for a work calendar but also the personal boundaries you might set and conversations you might need to have.
I don’t think I’ve ever publicly said this before but the moment I set boundaries in my personal life I felt my career begin to finally take off because I had focus.
Before then, I was not focused on myself.
I was so tense that all I had was either a mind with barely comprehensibly racing thoughts or totally blank from the energetic overwhelm.
It’s so fucking hard to set boundaries but what helped me is remembering that boundaries are not to be cruel. Boundaries helped me build healthier relationships with people I love and a career I love. Things wont change on their own. Everyone else might not realize they are living with unhealthy behaviors learned from their life experiences. Sometimes it’s you who is what creates the change and as a result it wakes up people around you who need to do the same.
Be patient with yourself. You got this.
Feel free to reply to this email if you have any questions about navigating boundaries 💖