Creating Workable Boundaries that Protect Your Life

September 13, 2016

I wish I could say that creating new season of work and life just happened overnight, lovely. But if I’m being totally honest, it took a huge amount of hard work and some very specific boundaries that set me up for success! As we dive into today’s conversation about designing workable boundaries that work for your life, it’s important to remember that work/life balance looks different for everyone, and there’s absolutely no right or wrong way to go about creating a system that works for you. With so many blog posts, books, podcasts and more out there designed to teach you how to “achieve” the perfect balance of both spheres of your life, that advice needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Only you know what methods, mindsets and approaches will work for you, because only you know your existing commitments, your priorities, and how you work and experience rest best.

creating workable boundaries that protect your life + help you define your best sense of work/life balance | b is for bonnie design

As I strove to cut back on the amount of stress my work caused me, that inevitably overflowed into my personal life, I recognized that I would need to implement an immutable set of boundaries that protected my personal time. In the past, I’ve written about some of the specific boundaries I put in place in the early years of my business, and many of those steps still ring true today. But more tangible boundaries, like office hours and parameters for client relationships, only took me so far as I still had to battle with my anxious heart, a head full of ideas that would never quiet down, and emotions that distracted me from truly experiencing rest and refresh in my off time. So I figured out earlier this summer that I also needed to create a workable set of emotional and mental boundaries that would give me the space to rest, keep me motivated to work diligently during my office hours, and find the clarity I’d been craving. I personally believe that this set of physical, emotional and mental boundaries I created over the years set me up to experience a season of work where I could truly cut my office hours in half. And although this set of boundaries works well for me, it may be completely impractical for where you are in your current season, boss lady! Which is why it’s important to focus on the overall process to creating workable boundaries for your life, instead of getting caught up in the specific details of which boundaries someone else is creating.

Examine your ideal state of work and life

Remember those five questions I asked you to respond to last week during our business reality check? Pull out those answers and take a look at the kind of life, and business, you want to create. Instead of viewing boundaries as hard and fast lines that will restrict you, think of them as helpful guides that will spur you forward in your journey. What steps do you think will help you get to your ideal life? What types of boundaries will support that transition? Are those boundaries emotional, physical, mental or a little of all of the above?

Jot down the ideas that pop into your head, friend. If you’re having a hard time envisioning what types of boundaries can drive you forward because you currently feel so weighted down by where you are in the present, then think about what situations, environments or relationship cause you stress or make you feel uncomfortable. Those situations as trigger points that may require an intentional boundary in your life to alleviate those uncomfortable feelings. For example, I used to feel guilty about how often I worked when I first started my business, and how much time that took away from my relationship with my husband. There was good reason for those feelings of guilt, considering I was working all day and late into the night! By creating purposeful boundaries that separated work hours from personal hours, I was able to free myself from those negative emotions and regain precious time with my favorite guy.

Study your priorities

What do you want these boundaries to help you accomplish? If you want to implement boundaries that give you the space for more margin in your schedule, then I’d encourage you to focus on actionable steps that eliminate distractions, cut down on nonessential commitments and prioritize dedicated periods of rest. On the other hand, if you’re striving to create a set of boundaries that propel you toward a season of booming business, then I would focus on smart working hours that maximizes your productivity, pay attention to your limits, and carve out quality time to recharge.

Here’s where it becomes so important to give yourself the permission to create a set of boundaries that works for you, because your priorities as a working mom of three are going to be totally different from those of a single gal building her business in the big city. Both are equally important and wholly valid. But they look different, and it can be too easy to let society tell you one is “better” than the other. So keep your head down, focus on what matters most to you, and don’t let false guilt or shame creep into your heart.

Give yourself grace

These boundaries that you’re creating are to serve as working guidelines to help you, not to cause you more stress or to hold you to an unrealistic standard of perfection. For as much as I love the boundaries I’ve put in place for myself, there are some days when I break them, and some days when they aren’t even feasible based on everything that’s on my plate. And that’s okay! Rather than beating myself up over it, I work hard to give myself the grace to try again tomorrow. Because balance is more of a journey than a final destination, and every season looks different.

What types of boundaries will you implement to help you create your ideal season of work and life, friend? Or, what boundaries are you implementing now that are yielding great results? Share in the comments below — I’d love to know!

Don’t miss a post in this series! Part I, Part II and Part III.

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I'm Bonnie -- a designer, brand designer + strategist, writer, wife, and pet parent to the most rambunctious golden retriever this side of the Mason-Dixon! I'm passionate about building authentic brands, encouraging small business owners to chase their dreams, and spreading joy through design. It's a delight to have you here, lovely! Grab a cup of coffee, pull up a comfy chair and stay a while, won't you?

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