Boundaries…Use Them or Lose Your Mind

In spite of being a girl with a serious high heel problem, my favorite trips growing up were always to national parks. By the end of the bohemian 1970’s, my parents had spent more than a few months packed in a VW Van heading from the Grand Canyon to Yellowstone; Yosemite to Bryce; from home to anywhere with a view that they could admire. So I was extremely excited when upon marrying a Minnesotan, I would be at least a few times a year within driving distance of the natural treasure known as Ely.


The beautiful town of Ely lies in the wild part of northern Minnesota. Other than by snowmobile, I’m not even sure how accessible it is in the winter, when snow blankets the ground and ice bars it’s tributaries. But, during the summer, adventurers flock to this small outpost to enter the wild in canoes and kayaks throughout the Boundary Waters separating Minnesota from Canada. Although immensely beautiful, it is incredibly isolated. Like most boundaries, the area offers the opportunity to be a great gift if we take a moment to step back and recognize that limitations, whether self imposed or forced upon us, many times act as a safety net to mitigate – or negate – risk.


Especially when it comes to my life, I have not often been a fan of boundaries. My philosophy has generally consisted of the “I can do anything” attitude. Whether its starting a business or serving as a foster care parent, I can create any opportunity or take on any responsibility. Let’s throw caution to the wind, because the world is my oyster, right? Well, maybe not exactly. What happens when suddenly your “I can do anything” actually becomes everything you do. What’s the consequence of your business controlling 24 hours of your day, every day of the year?


Opportunities without margins lead to exhaustion while the responsibilities you were so eager to take on, left unchecked, become your new prison.


As an employee in a traditional job, you are presented a preset boundary list. For each of our employees, the contract stipulates duties and responsibilities. The document details their hours, responsibilities, expectations, and even their vacation time. But as an entrepreneur, these boundaries are discarded once we sign the loan paperwork and commence operations on a business registered with the Secretary of State. Let’s reflect for a moment about have often you have done the following:


  1. Been the CEO, Bookkeeper, Front Desk, Instructor and Housekeeper all in the course of a few hours?
  2. Missed dinners with friends or family with too much work to do by closing time?
  3. Sat with your child through homework while you answered emails frantically on your phone and nodding and mumbled yes periodically to at least give the semblance of interaction?
  4. Worked seven days a week, every week?
  5. Oh, and maybe, still run a household, even if it’s just you, been the chief chef, housekeeper, errand runner and general all around jack of all trades to keep your semblance of a personal life in check?


If you’re like me, you have nodded your head to this list, possibly while falling asleep while you kept on going – just one more email, one more phone call, one more class. So it doesn’t surprise me, when I meet entrepreneur after entrepreneur who tell me they can do it all, but never seem to accomplish anything that propels them to the next summit.


An entrepreneur without boundaries is an entrepreneur on the verge of mental and physical exhaustion, leading a business on the verge of stagnation from overstimulation.   Running a successful business requires not just constant movement, but also stillness to enable focus. This stillness allows for personal rest and renewal, time for reflection while finding clarity in one’s vision. Perfecting your plans and actions will drive your business onward and upward in a manner to meet your expectations.


The good news: We can answer all your questions while finding solutions to your problems. Together, we will make you and your business significantly stronger.


  1. Create your Schedule A. In every business our ownership team crafts out a clear set of responsibilities for ourselves as part of our large scale Business Flow Chart. We play to our strengths and focus on areas we can operate in ease from. We set boundaries of when we accept emails, phone calls and texts. (The email feature Boomerang is a Godsend and if you don’t have it, I would get it immediately). We lay out our roles clearly, setting expectations for ourselves and those around us. Does this mean I haven’t pulled an all nighter lately? Of course not. Although there are projects and weeks that require more time and energy, such a schedule can not become the norm. What should you have on your Schedule A:
  •  Your chief purpose
  •  Your responsibilities…all of them from cleaning staff to instructors
  •  Your hours spent with clients
  •  Your hours spent on your business
  •  Your hours spent your significant others
  •  Your vacation time…yes, sounds scary, but this m’dear is a necessity!


2.  Remove your email from your phone. Frankly, I shook when I did this. I was convinced the world would stop and my business would fall apart. How would I function without the freedom of having email on my phone had given me. If you are receiving emails day and night with your phone sitting next to you at every dinner, soccer game, movie, and date, your phone is not offering you freedom. Rather, it is intruding on every moment of your life outside of your work.


So, how should a successful business leader in the year 2015 operate without instant and constant communication? Here’s what you will need to function?

  • Clear plan on communication on emergencies. Should an employee text or call? What is the turnaround time on these?
  • When will you check emails? During times when we are working heavily on growing our business .


On a side note, if you have employees or will ever have employees, this will be life and business changing for them. In our business we want our employees to have real lives because let’s face it, happy employees mean awesome work, mean insanely satisfied customers. And, that m’dear is the end state of our business.


3.  Plan your day with blocks of “Breathe” time. As a Pilates and yoga instructor, I used to judge my time based on very simple principle. Client in = Money Earned. No Client = Loss of Revenue. But as an entrepreneur, my focus had to be on my business as a whole. That meant sales, marketing, employee coaching time, vision planning, and the strategizing of new products.


My entrepreneur principle became All Time with Clients = No Long Term Business Growth. Time to Breathe in My Business = Time to Take My Profits Far Beyond Where I Can Go Alone.


Keep in mind a boundary isn’t setting a limit on what you can achieve. A boundary preserves your time and energy so when you reach for the stars, you land on them moon.



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