July 6, 2022 - Shauna Jurczak
I’m really good at setting boundaries with my dance students. From age 3 though to the young adults, they know what my boundaries and expectations are with them. I know they are fair, openly communicated and, as I’ve seen recently with a young 4-year-old, they actually help strengthen a sense of trust and well-being in a relationship.
Yet for some reason, I’ll be the first to admit, I spent many years struggling to set proper boundaries for myself in my adult relationships. I would take on extra tasks at work, that took me away from my own free time, and that I wasn’t compensated for. I’d also never ask for additional compensation, nor would I decline the work even though I knew I needed to respect my own time. I just took it all on.
I would regularly get out of bed at midnight when someone would email me with a question they felt was pressing, ignoring the fact that expecting a response back at midnight was unfair to me and honestly irrational on anyone’s part. It became expected of me to be available 24/7.
If I had time set to take meetings from 12pm-4pm and someone asked to schedule at 5pm instead, I’d skip my own yoga class or dinner date to accommodate the other person instead of suggesting an alternate time that worked for me.
Any of that sound familiar?
When the pandemic hit and everything came to an abrupt halt, I knew it was time to refocus myself and re-examine how I did things. I was running on empty. As I sat back and looked at what was causing me stress, taking excess amounts of my time, and sucking the energy out of me I came to the following realizations:
Having downtime, time to do the things you love (reading, painting, shopping for fun) are not just “ok” but actually very necessary to maintain balance in your life.
It is ok to set yourself off hours. No one needs an email response at midnight – even if you’re awake. It’s not your work time. You can reply during regular work hours.
Making time for family and friends is important. I don’t mean time where your body is present in the room but your brain is focused on other things. I’m talking real time, where you put the emails and social media down, and create real moments and connections with the people around you.
There are 24-hours in a day. Some of those hours are yours to do whatever you want with, not for others to dictate for you.
There are more things on your to-do list than you realize that can wait until tomorrow if you need a rest. Honor yourself. Take the breather and get back to work more effectively tomorrow.
Your time is valuable, both in minutes and in dollars. Recognizing that, verbalizing it, and setting a boundary around your time helps put you on a much more positive and fruitful path.
Understanding that the expectations you put on yourself far outweigh the demands of others – I go back to the midnight emails. I expect myself to do a good job, service my customers to the best of my ability, with fairness and honesty. Their expectation for me to reply at midnight is not part of my personal expectations. I know I will deliver significantly better customer service at 8am after a good sleep and that is my priority. (I actually have my phone programmed now to silence notifications from 10pm-7am. It’s very freeing.)
It is ok to decline a wedding invitation, or recommend an alternate meeting time, or miss out on a party with little explanation other than “I’m sorry I’m unable to attend but thank you for the invite” or “Unfortunately that time does not work for me, but I have Monday at 3pm or Tuesday morning open”.
Long story short, when I finally took time to set my own boundaries, I realized that I the reason I set such great boundaries with my students was because I wanted them to have personal accountability, balance, and still be “kids” while pursuing their dance training seriously. I wanted them to know what was expected of them so they could approach it without hesitation. I wanted them to have a clear picture so they could enjoy the little things while working towards the big things.
My intentions for myself didn’t line up the way they did for the kids, but once they did, I found freedom. Time freedom, financial freedom, peace of mind, and for the first time in close to 20 years, I started to enjoy life more fully…all because I set a few boundaries for myself.
Are you having trouble setting boundaries in your life? Looking to reclaim your peace of mind and time freedom? Let’s get in touch so I can help you.