By Elizabeth McGrory
Working Moms Expert
A boundary is what you set up to protect yourself. A personal boundary is put up by you, it’s your boundary, or limit, and it’s personal. There’s no need to announce the boundary has been set in your head. But when the day comes that where someone crosses this boundary it’ll be time to speak up.
Here’s how personal boundaries work.
First, you build your rock solid personal foundation. It consists of your:
- personal and professional values
- daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly priorities
- self-care plan that you can’t resist following
- self-awareness practice
- strong emotional intelligence skills
- personal energy management
If the above sounds like a lot of work it can be. But the great thing is that once it’s built you are ready to take on any Working Mom type challenge. Work/life integration becomes simpler and less chaotic. It’s worth having a strong foundation so that you can build confidence and courage to go after your desired feelings and goals.
Second, you begin setting up boundaries so that all the work you’ve done on your foundation is protected.
You keep your work calendar updated three months out. This task is a priority because it’s important to you that your team members know what your commitment are (aka your priorities). The calendar shows you taking the afternoon as a personal time but you hear that someone’s trying to schedule a meeting. Personal boundary BREECHED! What do you do?
Using the A-E-I-O-U assertiveness technique you approach the meeting leader with something like this:
Acknowledge: I understand that you want to schedule a meeting this afternoon for our big project that we’ve all been working hard on.
Express: I feel like I would have a lot to contribute but I’ve had this afternoon planned with personal time three months ago. This time off is non-negotiable. If the meeting is held this afternoon I will not be able to attend.
Identify: If the meeting can be postponed until tomorrow morning I would like to help you run the meeting and keep the meeting minutes (meaning take notes during the meeting about what’s discussed).
Outline: With these meeting minutes it should help us with our project management. They can be saved on the server so that everyone isn’t searching through their inbox for data.
Understanding: I’m really excited to contribute as well as hear where everyone stands. Organizing the meeting minutes will be a great way to keep others motivated to take the next steps in their project. How does this sound to you? Do we have an agreement?
Sticking up for your boundary sets future expectations. It shows that you want respect for the work you put into scheduling your work and personal life. Being assertive takes courage but it's a great way to defend your boundaries.
Last, keep updating and setting boundaries. This will always be a work in progress. When you feel like a boundary was just crossed but no boundary has been defined it's time to give the feeling some thought. What within your personal foundation has been threatened? What, within your control, can you do so that your foundation is not rocked again? Put the boundary into a sentence such as, "If I'm asked to work when I've scheduled a personal day I will say no and give an alternative". This boundary thus gives you direction. You have action that you will take once the boundary has been set.
Now I want to hear from you!
Do you have any personal boundaries that you've set or that you want to set? What is holding you back?