This week we celebrate Independence day in the United States and it has reminded me of the many conversations I have had lately about establishing and maintaining boundaries as the foundation for personal freedom. If you are like many of my clients, when you hear me say this, you may have significant doubt. It may feel like having more boundaries and structure might limit your freedom. Nothing could be further from the truth!
When I chat with my clients they share with me that they desire more flexibility and freedom in their lives. You may feel the same way, wanting a more flexible schedule, working with people who give you energy vs. taking energy from you, doing meaningful work, and having the ability to be present with the people who matter most to you. I want you to know that without solid boundaries it is nearly impossible to create this level of freedom in your life.
Despite how contrary it seems, setting boundaries does not limit you. Quite the opposite actually; freedom is found on the other side of clear boundaries and there is research to back that up. Brene’ Brown found in her research that many of the most generous and compassionate people have strong boundaries.
Healthy boundaries actually serve as guide rails for what you will and will not do as well as the behavior that is and is not acceptable to you. Establishing boundaries allows you to have a repeatable process to navigate your life and work in ways that create meaning and value to you. If you are like many of the leaders I work with the question you may have is this… where do I start?
Here are a few places you can begin to establish boundaries for more freedom and flexibility in your life:
1. Establish your Say Yes Standards™️: Decide the things you want to say yes to and then say yes to those ONLY. That includes people, as well as the types of work and social engagements you say yes to. Begin to delegate those things you are not brilliant at as development opportunities for others on your team. Be willing to keep weekends just for your immediate family saying no to other social engagements. In my book, Design Your Life, there is a great exercise designed to walk you through establishing these standards.
2. Establish Office Hours: These are times when your team or family and friends can reach you. This will allow you to focus on work and will likely dramatically increase your productivity. If you have an assistant, establish some rules around when meetings are scheduled on your calendar.
3. Establish Clear Expectations: As a leader you have to establish clear expectations of what good performance is, how and when work should be completed and when clients should expect deliverables. In your personal life you also need to set expectations with family and friends for when and how they should expect to connect with you and what they can and can’t depend on you for. Just articulating these expectations can be incredibly freeing for you and for those you work with and love. Clarity in and of itself creates a level of freedom that is truly a gift for those you provide it to.
So, as you continue to celebrate this July 4th week, how will you exercise your freedom through boundaries?
P.S. Here is a great video from Brene’ Brown on Boundaries – Take a watch here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ujtWYO0w1OM