Boundaries come in many forms. Some are utilitarian and valuable. Others are seemingly useless and/or prohibitive (think negative self talk – more on this later). There are physical boundaries such as doors, fences, or perhaps you recently sprained your ankle and can’t get around as well as you used to, so you temporarily can’t get from point A to point B as efficiently. Then there are the boundaries that you can’t see, but you sure know that they are there. Self talk, especially negative, can throw up one of the biggest boundaries of all. Boundaries, seen and unseen, good and bad, are a part of life and a part of business. And some of those boundaries are no further away…than the tip of your nose.
Distractions: There are plenty of these now a-days. Constant stimuli from electronic gadgetry, texts, buzzes, emails, calls, IMs, DMs, ten gazillion social network platforms and Apps, and the list goes on. That doesn’t even count the dog barking, kids/grandkids asking for a snack, and your partner saying that he needs your help holding a wrench on his latest truck restoration project.
“Dealing” with Distractions:
It’s tough for sure and takes self-control and discipline, but learning to deal with all of the distractions from people, the phone, texts, emails, messages on all sorts of social media platforms, and honestly just social medial in general is essential. We’ve all got 24 hours in one day, but it’s our choice how to use that time. Answering everything immediately after receiving a text, message, call, email, etc. (at least for me) turns out to be counter productive. Sure we want to be responsive and courteous to our clients, but that doesn’t necessarily equate to on-the-second immediacy. Perhaps set aside a couple of specified times (and length of time), a type of “boundary” if you will, during the day to answer emails, texts, and messages; respond/comment on posts on various social media platforms; return phone calls. This does a couple of things. 1) It keeps you organized and helps you plan your day. 2) It gives you time to think/to take a “beat”/to be mindful/to breathe before speaking, writing, and/or responding.
Also, let folks know when you’re in your office/studio working. This is especially applicable if you work from home. Being up front and honest helps set a friendly boundary and mutual respect.
Of course emergencies will come up and are inevitable and your “routine” won’t always work, so you’ll work on things as they come up. However, having some structure (“office hours/time boundary”, etc.) can help you stay on track and organized.
Self Talk: Many times negative, non-productive, and in all honesty a waste of time, circular conversations where you mull over the same thing in your head over and over again can be counter productive, and can essentially put up a boundary that can impair you from seeking new clients, working on marketing, learning a new skill, among a myriad of other things.
Of course our thoughts won’t always be positive. Life happens, bad things happen, and it is imperative that we move “through” them and not ignore them hoping they’ll just disappear. Yep, and this is tough too, but it’s crucial to move through, feel (even the “bad” feelings), confront, learn, and then move forward with your life/business. This isn’t my area of expertise, but I feel it’s important not to linger in the negativity. Yes, acknowledge it (and this can be hard too), but then working through the negative self talk and moving forward is important so as not to get “stuck”. Getting stuck in these ruts isn’t fun and the rut can turn in to an ever-deepening hole (another proverbial boundary) pretty quickly.
Here are tricks that I use from time to time – physical movement and changing up your activity. Physically move to a different room, go outside, do something completely different to get your mind focused in a new direction. This isn’t “ignoring” whatever needs to be worked through, but rather can help spark a new way to deal with the issue or provide an “a ha” moment to solve a problem. And it just may help bring about a needed sense of peace and calm (reduced blood pressure, etc.), which is a good thing for all of us.
Sometimes the Answer is “No” — No as a Boundary: Some time ago I had a chance to work on a voiceover project, and I had to set up a boundary. I had been short listed and needed to send in one more voiceover sample recording before the final decision would be made by the client. After reading the script, I politely declined due to the subject matter (tobacco). I was friendly, but to the point in the subsequent email I sent to my client. They completely understood. Be honest, have standards, listen to your gut, have integrity.
Educational Boundary: There’s always learning and training to be done not matter what field or industry you work in. If you don’t know how to do what it is you want to do (for example, I would need to train with coaches and take several classes before trying to find work in voiceovers for animation and gaming), then classes will be necessary. Whether they’re online, in person or hybrid, there are many opportunities to learn and to take classes. Asking others in the field you are interested in, getting a mentor, checking out a webinar, reading, attending a seminar, there are more chances now than ever to educate yourself and to learn. Do your due diligence of course, but there are a lot of educational resources that are free! For example if you have questions about setting up a business, the SBA and your local SBDC (Small Business Development Centers) are fantastic resources. I’m a big believer in education, and it is something that can never be taken away from you. Go for it!
Looking Within/in the Mirror: Sometimes (and this can be the toughest one of all) the boundary that is holding you back is…yourself.