Some people love boundaries, some feel caged by them, and some need them to flex like Stretch Armstrong. In this episode, we discuss the struggle to create useful boundaries and what works for each of us.
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About this Episode
In this new era where so many of us are working from home… and schooling from home it is essential that we have boundaries in place that allow us to focus on work, family, and personal projects in their appropriate times.
Having boundaries in place have allowed us to build thriving businesses without neglecting other important parts of our lives. Join us as we share our thoughts on the important role boundaries have played in our lives.
People... Products... Places
Betsy Muse 0:12
They’re frequent listeners.
Molly McBeath 0:13
They’re all going to be frequent listeners. Right?
Betsy Muse 0:18
Kathleen Fealy 0:20
We’re gonna have them, beating down the doors to come and listen.
Molly McBeath 0:52
Hello and welcome to yes but however, a podcast about marketing, business and how not to take yourself too seriously. I’m Molly Macbeth, with my co host Kathy fealy, and Betsy Muse. Today’s discussion centers on boundaries. But before we dive into this week’s episode. I want to apologize. As you’ve already heard my sound quality in this recording is not good. I didn’t realize on the day that I was using the wrong cable with my microphone setup. So I sound a bit like I’m talking into a bag. The good news is I figured out that the cable was the problem. So later episodes I’m much better. I learn something new every day. I hope you listen to the show anyway, because if you struggle with creating space for yourself. I think you’ll find a lot of ideas, and a lot of love in this episode.
Betsy Muse 1:52
Thank you for joining us this week, this is Betsy, with Molly and Kathy. And we’re going to talk today about setting boundaries, because it’s something so many of us struggle with, but especially when we’re working from home setting boundaries in business, and setting boundaries with your family,
Molly McBeath 2:14
Yes, I am a huge proponent of boundaries. And it took me far too long to understand how useful they could be. I think that, well I think boundaries have been a big issue for me in my life I did not grow up in a family where boundaries were allowed. So it boundaries have been a struggle. But I finally got that. I think I get boundaries now. And someone that we’re all very fond of Amy Posner is a fantastic human being, but also a great copywriter has. I can’t remember exactly what she said. In about boundaries, it was something about that boundaries are not for you, or they’re not for your clients they’re really for you to keep your own focus, Kathy, what do you think.
Kathleen Fealy 3:20
I think that boundaries are super important, but I think that they are something that does take time to learn and to develop. And they also have to. I think they have to be somewhat flexible, but because there’s going to be somebody who, like I used to have clients that I would say, I was available all the time. And then, some of them took advantage of it would be calling like 9:00 or 9:30 at night, and I would pick up the phone and think it was something super important that it happened to their website or, you know, something that happened in their lives because we all sort of knew each other quite well. And they’d be like, Oh, you know, I was thinking the other day I’d like to schedule a meeting in the next couple of weeks with you.
Molly McBeath 4:02
Someone would call you late in the evening for that?
Kathleen Fealy 4:05
several times, and so I finally started telling my clients that after six o’clock I wouldn’t pick up my phone. But then I had some clients that didn’t get home until seven or eight o’clock from their businesses and they never were around during the day because there were contractors. So we basically set up different schedules, so you have to be a little bit flexible but if you don’t set the boundaries you’re ending up with your clients you’re ending up working from the crack of dawn until late at night, and they expect sometimes answers from that I get pushed back I’d be really interested to hear what you guys think about this, but I don’t necessarily answer emails, after hours, I will sometimes, but I will not necessarily be a 24, seven person because I do think that you need time to regenerate overnight and stuff and not have to constantly be working and looking at stuff that’s not to say don’t look at my emails, it’s not to say never answer but I do think that there is out there, but other people believe you should be on call 24 seven by your text or email. What do you think,
Betsy Muse 5:15
well, I am a reformed boundary-less person. I was born a pleaser. And I’m the middle child. So it’s always been my job to keep the peace, and to be what people needed me to be. And so, you know, growing up, like you Molly we weren’t basically allowed to have boundaries, we had to do what we were told to do we, we couldn’t set those boundaries for ourselves. And that’s very much how I have been as an adult until the past, I’d say five years or so and it has been critical that I continue to improve there. Because, like, Kathy, I would, I thought that it was my job to do what my clients needed when they needed it and to be as responsive as I could be. And I no longer now. I do try to over deliver. When I have work for clients, but there need to be boundaries. This is when I’m available. And I don’t respond to emails on certain days. They’ve had to get used to the fact that I don’t respond to client emails on Tuesdays, they’ll get a response. Yes. I don’t respond to client emails on Tuesdays, or Fridays or going into a weekend if it’s I do check them. If it’s an emergency Yes, but I do check them but I don’t necessarily respond because we’re going into a weekend I do not work for my clients on the weekend.
Molly McBeath 6:58
Have you set that up with them. Is it a conversation that
Betsy Muse 7:03
It is in the onboarding process. So, this is something that I establish upfront. I let them know that I will monitor for emergencies, but most of what I do is not emergency work I’m not tending to websites which Kathy. You and I both know and Molly does too where you can have emergencies with websites.
Molly McBeath 7:25
Oh yeah, absolutely.
Betsy Muse 7:26
So, you know that’s that’s completely different. But the copy that I write the work that I do is, it’s not. The world isn’t going to end for my clients. In, anything that they communicate with me on Friday can be handled on Monday. So that’s a they might think it’s an emergency but it usually isn’t well.
Kathleen Fealy 7:58
But I think boundaries are really important to establish because a lot of people might say well how important really are they, but if you don’t have boundaries. I also think it’s not only good for your clients to know that you have boundaries and you’re available at certain times and not at other times, but it’s important for your family to realize that as well because like for example I work out of my house. And so I have dedicated office space, etc. But that does not mean that just because I’m home people can walk in the door right away and just start talking to me about anything. So, that took some time to explain and just, you know, basically, a lot of times I would say like, my husband would come in and start to just talk to me I’m like, I really need like at least 30 minutes before you come and talk to me because it’s not like I walk into your office at your corporation and like just start talking to you without like you knowing I’m coming. But I think it might actually even be harder to set boundaries when you have kids and I don’t have kids so I’m interested to hear from Molly and Betsy about this.
Molly McBeath 9:04
Well, I have two kids are the one has moved out. She’s 19. And my younger one is 15. So my kids are now well trained. I have worked at home I worked at home before I worked from home before actually. So I was already. I’ve been working at home for a few years before. And then, I didn’t work a lot when they were very, very little. But then, as I started pulling in more work. I discovered that I needed to have some way of keeping them from interrupting phone calls. I was often doing stuff that they couldn’t. So that was part of it is that I was very interruptible. So, boundaries with kids, it was a lot of slowly training them, and me frankly it’s kind of like having, that’s what a lot of it is training the human, or in this case the adult, rather than training the kids. back and forth. How was your situation was
Betsy Muse 10:15
not, I didn’t have any problem really with the kids, and I’m the one who needs to be trained. So, the have setting boundaries with my kids was was very easy they were both. I got super lucky both of my daughters are ease entertain themselves quite well. Even as adults, they are never bored because they have so many hobbies. And so, that part was easy. It’s obeying my own boundaries, because that pleaser in me still always wanted to try to be all things to all people. And that makes it very difficult when you’re torn between doing the work that you’re supposed to be doing, and taking care of family matters. And so, I, I would sometimes feel like, you know, I’m not doing a great job at either one. And the people who live with me are right here so I’m going to tend to their needs. And of course the people who are listening in can see that I’m motioning to my right side, but you know the the people I live with. I can see their needs. So I’m going to tend to them and then that would send me, finishing client work late into the night.
Molly McBeath 11:38
Yep. Me too I get a lot of work late at night.
Betsy Muse 11:41
Right. And so that’s what I’m trying to avoid. Now, I do give my all, that doesn’t mean that I have to work 24 seven. I put everything I can into my work for my clients and and even when I’m doing work for myself, I set boundaries for myself when I’m doing, you know, creating a landing page for my own business. I don’t necessarily want to be up at, you know, 9,10, 11 at night, doing that work for myself, but I do the best job possible. But that doesn’t mean that I have to, you know, work after six, seven or eight at night. It doesn’t mean that I have to work on the weekends to accomplish that, and setting that boundary is as important for me, as it is for my client or for my family.
Kathleen Fealy 12:34
And that’s it so Oh sorry, go ahead, Molly.
Molly McBeath 12:37
Well, I was just gonna say I that has totally been a struggle for me too. And it’s something that I’ve only recently started to get comfortable with the idea that I don’t, it’s a personal boundary of recognizing that I don’t need to push myself to exhaustion. To get the work that I can still. I can meet my client’s needs. I can meet my own personal needs I can interact with my family, and help take care of my kids. But I don’t have to do it all at once, and it doesn’t have to be all that. It took me a long time.
Kathleen Fealy 13:18
I also think boundaries are important for you to grow your business, because for me it’s always been a struggle. Because I do care so much about my clients and doing a good job for them but a lot of times, I haven’t taken care of my own business as well as I should. I haven’t spent the time marketing myself. I haven’t spent the time building my presence online and it’s funny because some people will say like, Oh would you create a social media strategy for me or how do I create a strategy for this and that, and then they look at my stuff and they’re like what you have any followers. it’s like well because I’ve never paid any attention to my own stuff, you know I am working for all my clients. But now I’m starting to set those boundaries where it’s like on certain days, or at least for so many hours, I establish that boundary where it’s like this only about my business. And it’s still a struggle, but it’s something that I think any business person, especially if they run their own business, or are in charge of a section of their business that they don’t do all the time, they need to make that extra effort to create a boundary for themselves where they’re like okay I’m not going to do any other work but this.
So it’s not always just a boundary about keeping clients, you know, at bay or keeping family at bay. And then, ourselves, at times from doing something else like I would assume a lot of people when they’re now starting to work from home for the first time when they’ve been in offices are all of a sudden discovering they’re getting distracted by laundry and kitchens and various other topics.
Betsy Muse 14:59
I know that most of the time when I’m in a situation that I’m unhappy with. It’s because I didn’t honor a boundary that I’ve set
Molly McBeath 15:10
that is absolutely true. And even in the last few months. Work times that I look back on and cringe a little bit. Oh, I’m not pleased with how that went. It’s because there was a boundary of mine that I left.
Betsy Muse 15:28
Now, the tape. One of the techniques that I know we’re all familiar with, and probably used to different degrees with our business is theme days. And this is something that I learned from Joanna Wiebe. And I know that. Now I can’t remember. Todd Herman
Molly McBeath 15:49
Todd Herman, yeah
Betsy Muse 15:50
Todd Herman I think that she she she took his 90 day year away she credits him with this, but that has helped me set with setting boundaries because I know the type of work that I do each day. I know when I have client time, I know when I have spend time on my own marketing. I know when I’m supposed to do the financial side of my business I know when I do my own content work. And I know when I do my own learning in the, in all of the courses and masterminds that I’m a part of. So that has helped me a lot, but it also brings me back to something Kathy said earlier about flexibility.
So, I think so what is the use of a boundary, if you’re going to be flexible. And I think that that’s just a fine line you walk. Because I do like flexibility. Fridays were always my day off, Friday afternoons. But when Kathy proposed this podcast, I was immediately willing to kind of lose that boundary because I thought this would be fun. And Friday afternoons were supposed to be fun and this has been fun. So it’s been a great way to spend my Friday afternoon. And so, that’s when I think that you have you take that option to be flexible, is when it is something that’s going to serve you, or serve your family or serve your business, and it’s worth, kind of, you know, smudging a boundary a little bit, or moving one aside. What do you like just that
Kathleen Fealy 17:40
I like to think that my boundaries are not like just solid lines I like to think of them as dotted lines. With a little pathway in and out occasionally because life happens. And, you know, and you have to make adjustments based on what’s happening in your life and your personal life as well as your business life I mean there might be days that, you know, you are going to be doing more emails at night and stuff if you’re like at a conference for example. So you’re going to be answering all of your clients emails and perhaps sending them a video with the answers with a little more explanation, etc. And then there’s always of course something that happens in the family where somebody gets sick or, you know, or you’re going to have the vacation so obviously that’s a boundary. So I like to think of them as dotted lines, because it still keeps you sort of confined, but I don’t know, I like the idea that you can get out. But I’m not a person that does really well if I’m being told. This is, you know, you don’t have any flexibility whatsoever. I’m a person that started my own business because I wanted flexibility. I worked for corporations for years, and I loved the people I worked with, but I always had trouble. Sticking to like the perfect nine to five like I remember one time I had a horrible horrible day, and I was working at a Fortune 500 company in New York City.
And I got my coat on and I went to leave and my boss saw me She’s like, what are you doing? And I’m like if I have to talk to one more person today, it is going to destroy all of the client relationships that I had built so I came in early today. I’m now leaving, and I will tomorrow go in with fresh eyes and I will be able to accomplish the problem. And she looked at me She goes, Well that sounds great in theory, but you work in a corporation that expects you here from nine to five. And I’m like, Okay, let’s see, it’s just that’s just not who I was so flexibility was needed. And I understood their point. But on the other hand, there were days that I had been there at seven in the morning and worked until seven at night so that part. They were fine with it was just if you wanted to leave little early. So that’s what I was like I said, I think. Now maybe I think a lot of corporations now are learning a lot more about being flexible with people schedule because this was quite a while ago. But that’s why I’m not, I need flexibility and my boundaries are otherwise they’re just not going to get done.
Betsy Muse 19:20
So I think what we’ve proven in this discussion is boundaries look different for everyone.
Molly McBeath 20:21
Yes, that’s true.
Kathleen Fealy 20:23
But they are fortunate for everybody to decide on.
Molly McBeath 20:27
But I want to try writing it down, see if that gets me this. I’ve never done that.
Betsy Muse 20:34
I think that it has to be deliberate and a deliberate choice to set the boundaries, and to follow them. But again, yes, there needs to be some flexibility, and that’s where it’s like okay so wait Why do you have a boundary if it’s flexible well you know, you just have to figure that out for yourself,
Molly McBeath 20:55
but I know I mean, but, I mean, Isn’t that part of the strength is flexiblility.
Betsy Muse 21:02
Molly McBeath 21:03
and. And where was I going with this.
Kathleen Fealy 21:08
I’m waiting for this because the yes but however parks itself like Betsy wants you to have a solid boundary with a little flexibility like just a little bit of an expanding ability.
I want the dotted line, and now you’re coming in with the Zen solution.
Betsy Muse 21:21
Well, I’ll say something because this really did spark an idea, it’s I think it’s important to establish the boundaries, before you decide how you’ll violate them with a dotted line, no. I think it’s important to establish the boundaries before you decide how you’ll be flexible with them.
Molly McBeath 21:46
And now I remember,
Betsy Muse 21:47
there we go.
Molly McBeath 21:49
I think it’s a practice. I think it’s something that if you really think that you like the boundaries you’ve chosen, I think it’s, it’s like marriage, you have to continue to choose that path and keep telling yourself, this is, this is the plan that I want to myself in the relationship I want to have all of my clients with one phone. But yeah, I think it’s something that you’d have to work on it’s not something that you decide and it’s not for me.
Betsy Muse 22:26
And we’ve, we’ve really only talked about a small number of boundaries. There are so many. And we’ve talked about when you’ll take calls when you answer emails, when you do the work. And, and there are other boundaries too and there. There are times when you know we we don’t ask for the budget question, because we’re too timid or shy and these are all boundaries you know we have to understand that we’re in business, and we need to show up that way. But we, we allow ourselves to feel intimidated when it comes to talking about money. So, I know we are looking at boundaries as far as time, and how we manage our time, but there are other types of boundaries too. I think, you know, if we if it as you say it’s a practice I think we make it a deliberate practice. And then if we find that one of our boundaries is no longer working for us then we’re making a deliberate choice to change that.
Which is another way we can be flexible right Kathy?
Kathleen Fealy 23:41
It’s adding that dotted line, erase that part of the line, if you just count
Molly McBeath 23:48
it can become a dashed or dotted line at any point.
Kathleen Fealy 23:51
Betsy Muse 23:53
Or it can be eliminated.
Kathleen Fealy 23:54
But then it’s not a line of any kind.
Betsy Muse 23:57
Right. It’s not a line at all. We’ve lost a boundary.
Kathleen Fealy 24:04
Betsy’s philosophical moments.
Betsy Muse 24:08
deep, deep philosophical moments.
Kathleen Fealy 24:17
This has been Yes But However, I’m Kathy Fealy with my co hosts Betsy Muse and now I Molly McBeath. this episode was written edited and produced by the three of us. Our theme music is tourist in Punta Cana, which is available through Audio Hero. The show’s website, where we post show notes, transcripts, and more information about us, can be found at yes but however podcast dot com. You can contact us through the website, or email us at talkers at yes but however podcast.com. Thanks for listening.
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