“Setting boundaries is not a luxury, but a necessity for our well-being.” – Brené Brown
As a woman of color, how comfortable are you with advocating for your well being? Do you often give family members a free pass for their harmful communication patterns, because dealing with it seems too exhausting? What about at work–how do you react when your client seems to be asking more of you than you originally agreed to? For many of us, these situations pop up (and continue) more than we would like.
Setting boundaries is a crucial skill for you as a woman of color in the dynamic world of business and careers. As a business and career coach that has worked with over 600 clients, I can tell you that establishing and maintaining healthy boundaries plays a significant role in achieving professional success and maintaining mental well-being along the way. I understand the transformative impact boundaries can have on your professional journey, because I see it firsthand everyday as I help to guide successful executives, entrepreneurs, and leaders to live a life of true fulfillment without burnout. One of my favorite books that I’m constantly recommending to my friends and clients, Set Boundaries, Find Peace, teaches us that when we lead a life guided by strong and fair personal boundaries, we not only avoid burnout and codependency, we can actually reclaim our sense of peace.
Let’s delve into the power of boundaries and discover how they can propel you towards achieving your goals, nurturing healthy relationships, and finding fulfillment in your career.
Boundaries act as guides, drawing lines that protect our well-being and define our interactions with the world. They are our personal compass, ensuring that we maintain a sense of balance, authenticity, and self-care amidst the demands of professional and personal life. By understanding and implementing boundaries, we pave the way for a harmonious integration of our personal and professional spheres.
Let’s explore the different types of boundaries and their significance within the business and career context:
- Emotional boundaries are essential for managing stress, preserving mental health, and promoting overall well-being. By setting emotional limits, we can protect ourselves from emotional exhaustion and maintain a healthy level of engagement in our work and relationships. This includes recognizing and addressing emotional labor, establishing boundaries around emotional support, and knowing when to prioritize our own mental well-being. For example, if someone is asking for support you don’t have the bandwidth be okay saying, “I will be unable to help.”
- Physical boundaries play a vital role in creating a safe and respectful environment. They involve establishing personal space, managing physical interactions, and setting limits on inappropriate behavior. By asserting our physical boundaries, we create an atmosphere of respect, ensuring that our personal space and comfort are safeguarded. For example, since I work at home I make sure I do not work in my bedroom and that work is done in my office at home.
- Balancing our time and energy is crucial for maintaining a sustainable and fulfilling professional journey. Time and energy boundaries help us set realistic expectations, avoid burnout, and create a harmonious integration of work and personal life. By defining our availability, prioritizing self-care, and setting limits on work-related demands, we ensure that our time and energy are allocated effectively, leading to greater productivity and overall satisfaction. For example, I treat my work-outs like meetings where I add to my calendar and attend.
- Professional boundaries are essential for maintaining professionalism, establishing clear job responsibilities, and setting limits on what others can expect from us professionally. These boundaries help us maintain focus, avoid overextending ourselves, and preserve the quality of our work. By defining what is within the scope of our role, clarifying expectations, and asserting ourselves in professional settings, we foster a healthy and balanced work environment. For example, I do share with clients I can send and receive messages through Voxer and not text messages.
Recognizing the Need for Boundaries
You know what they say–the first step to solving a problem is admitting there is a problem.It’s essential to recognize the signs of boundary issues within the realm of business and careers, because sometimes they can be sneaky. By understanding the warning signs, we can proactively address boundary challenges and reclaim control over our lives.
Some signs of a lack of boundaries could be:
- Overworking more often than not
- Having a blurred work-life balance
- Feeling taken advantage of
- Experiencing emotional exhaustion
On top of recognizing these signs, reflecting on personal tendencies and acknowledging the impact of boundary violations is crucial for growth and self-awareness. For example, do you tend to be a people pleaser? Have you personally struggled with codependency in your relationships? Have you chronically avoided the need to set boundaries with friends? These types of behavioral habits can seriously impact your ability to establish healthy boundaries personally and professionally, so be sure to take inventory.
Establishing Healthy Boundaries At Work
Whether you’re a business owner, a professional in a workplace, or engaging with clients and customers, establishing healthy boundaries is essential.
As business owners, boundaries allow us to define our roles, charge our worth, manage expectations, and maintain a healthy work-life balance. As a business owner, you may want to think about what boundaries you set to help address:
- managing client relationships
- navigating scope creep
- avoiding overcommitment
- utilizing social media in a healthier, more sustainable way
- managing challenging conversations with team members
In the workplace, boundaries foster a respectful environment, help us manage workload and deadlines, and make it easier to ask for what we deserve. As a supervisor or someone that works as part of a team, you may want to think about what boundaries you set to help with:
- communicating expectations with colleagues and superiors
- managing workload and deadlines
- maintaining professionalism
- asking for what you deserve
It’s important to note that different professions and industries may require unique boundaries, adapting to the specific demands and dynamics they entail. The type of relationship we have with those around us might also dictate what boundaries we need to set. For example, I let my clients know that I respond within 24/5, which is within 24 hours and during the weekday. If they message me on a Friday or weekend, I will get back on a Monday.
Steps to Set Healthy Boundaries: Empowering Your Transformation
Now, let’s dive into the practical steps that will empower you to set healthy boundaries in your business and career:
- Self-reflection and self-awareness: Take the time to understand your values, needs, and limits. Be sure to do the hard work of reflecting on your own patterns and behavioral habits. Reflect on your priorities and define what is acceptable to you. I often reflect once a week.
- Communicating assertively: Practice assertive communication to express your boundaries clearly, respectfully, and confidently. Be firm in your stance, while maintaining respect for others. When practicing assertive communication, learn to not respond right away and share what you need when you are more regulated.
- Consistency and boundary reinforcement: Consistently reinforce your boundaries by following through with actions and consistently upholding your limits. This consistency will help others understand and respect your boundaries. For example, I often say, “As I stated earlier, I will not be able to support doing this.”
- Prioritize your well-being and professional growth: Pay attention to your own needs, well-being, and growth. Set boundaries that allow you to prioritize self-care, personal growth, and maintaining a healthy work-life balance. For example, I notice that when I’m on my period I know that I cannot take on a lot of work.
- Seek support and mentorship: Reach out for support from mentors, colleagues, or a coach who can guide you on your journey. Surround yourself with individuals who value and respect your boundaries, and who can provide guidance and encouragement. I often go to my own therapist and coach when I need further guidance.
Setting healthy boundaries is a game-changer in personal well-being, professional success, and fostering healthy and meaningful relationships. While I see the struggle that can come with taking the first steps to set boundaries, I also have fully seen what happens when you maintain health boundaries: enhanced well-being and mental health, increased productivity and focus, and the cultivation of respectful and professional relationships.
As a business and career coach, I of course can’t express enough the importance of leadership and executive coaching in developing and maintaining healthy boundaries. I want you to leverage the power of setting healthy boundaries and embrace the opportunity for growth and transformation personally and professionally. By taking even one small step today, you can align your boundaries with your values and goals, and seek the support you need to thrive on your business and career journey.
Remember, you hold the power to establish boundaries that nurture your well-being, foster success, and create a life of fulfillment. Let boundaries be your guide as you embark on this empowering journey of personal and professional growth and that starts with having conscious conversations.
If you would like further support in your career, business, or leadership, my team and I would love to support you in creating a sustainable life! You can schedule a 30-minute legacy business or career review call with me to see if it’s a good fit to work together, and you’ll receive 3 action-items from me.