Boundaries We All Need Them…
Confession time. I want to share something that I will likely resonate with many of you. I used to wear my workaholic badge with pride. I was always available, constantly checking emails, and sacrificing time with loved ones to go the “extra mile”. Inevitably, my performance suffered, and so did my mental and physical health. Total burn out, caused by a shocking lack of boundaries.
When I left my last corporate role I remember a conversation with one of my colleagues that was such a wake up call. “I had no idea you were struggling – you’re a machine”. Of all the things I wanted to be known for after I was gone, it certainly wasn’t “Here lies Michelle, she was a machine”!
There’s a great Glennon Doyle quote “Why do women have to almost die before we give ourselves permission to live how we want”. But whilst I didn’t have a near death experience, I managed to grow a (benign) tumour the size of an avocado on my thyroid. A fact I managed to almost completely ignore despite the fact that a scan at the time showed it was actually bending my windpipe out of shape. A neat analogy for the extent to which I was bending myself out of shape to accommodate absolutely everyone and everything in my life, apart from myself. I was refusing to give myself permission to live, refusing to let myself breathe, by refusing to set any kind of boundaries.
It was a catalyst for a rebuild in my attitude towards life and work and these are five key lessons I’ve learned along the way:
- Prioritise Self-Care: Without boundaries it’s impossible to prioritize well-being and ensure I have the energy and focus to excel in my work but most importantly thrive whilst doing so. Take time for the things that recharge you – exercise, meditation, hanging out with friends who nourish you. It really doesn’t matter what it is, your self care will look different to someone else’s. There’s a reason you’re told to fit your own oxygen mask first in an emergency. You cannot give your work, your family, all the things we think we are prioritising, if you don’t have energy in your tank. Repeat after me – self-care is not a luxury.
- Define Clear Working Hours: Establishing dedicated working hours not only creates a structure for my day but also communicates your availability to clients, colleagues, and stakeholders. Be firm about your boundaries, and avoid the temptation to constantly be “on.” If I’m honest this is the one I struggle with most. A huge advantage in running my own business is that I can choose my own hours, which means sometimes I prefer working at strange hours but if I’m not careful it means I end up working both normal and strange hours….
- Learn to Say No: As a business owner, it can be tough to say no to new projects or opportunities. My FOMO is real! However, learning to prioritize and saying a firm NO to some things, however tempting, is so important. And, crucially, saying no to something that doesn’t align with my goals or values allows me to say yes to opportunities that truly matter.
- Cultivate Authentic Connections: Boundaries are the guardians of our relationships. By defining and communicating our boundaries effectively, we foster healthier, more authentic connections with clients, colleagues, and loved ones. I learned that vulnerability in expressing my limitations not only created trust but also allowed others to honour their own boundaries. This is also crucially important when managing teams. You can tell your team to rest, to recharge, to do their best work until you’re blue in the face but your actions speak louder than words.
- Embrace Imperfection: Boundaries allow us to embrace our imperfections and let go of the unrealistic expectation of being superhuman. We have to acknowledge that we have limits, and that’s perfectly okay. It is the absolute opposite of failure. By setting boundaries, we create space for growth, learning, and the acknowledgment that success is not defined solely by achievements but by our overall well-being and happiness.What’s a boundary you need to set today?
About The Author
Michelle Kvello is the founder of Lantern Partners, a virtual CFO firm, working with founder CEOs of start ups and scale ups. She has a personal love of driving entrepreneur success because early in her career she realised there was a need for founders to have access to good commercial and strategic financial support. Often the health and hygiene compliance work was sorted, but the missing piece of the puzzle was the partnering support to help the business really grow. She founded Lantern Partners with the vision of being that partner.
The business now services clients nationally (Australia) and internationally across a number of industries. It is also 80% female staffed and everyone works flexibly both in terms of time and location, even pre Covid19! In 2022 she launched her Corporate to Consultant programme, a practical guide through the key building blocks in making a successful move. Think of it as your 10 year head start.
Recently named one of the top 50 Women in Accounting (2021) and top 50 Small Business Leader (2022), she is passionate about using her voice and her stories to support women in the industry, as well as small businesses and individuals moving from corporate roles into their consulting dream. She hates the idea of people feeling “stuck” whether professionally or in business when information she shares could unlock that.
To Find Out More Visit : lanternpartners.com.au