Setting Unclear Boundaries with Others will Always Lead to Imbalance | jessdennis.com

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JESS DENNIS

Setting Unclear Boundaries with Others will Always Lead to Imbalance

June 25, 2019

I had an epiphany recently while on vacation with my family in Florida. I was being pulled in two different directions; staying present with my family and work. This happens a lot when you’re an entrepreneur because it’s difficult to give yourself the permission to fully step away, giving you (and those you love) space you truly deserve to live your life and make memories.

It was during one of my conference calls with my leadership team that I asked about another one of our team members. She wasn’t showing up and I was confused. One of the voices on the line informed me that she had a couple of big projects on her plate (one work-related and one family related) and she simply didn’t have the bandwidth to participate.

The reasons were solid…they were good reasons. And even though I supported her I found myself resenting her choice. I was angry that she was making the RIGHT choice to lean out because I was making the WRONG choice to lean in. It’s easy to justify our bad decisions when others are also making bad decisions. It’s much more difficult to justify bad choices when others are showing us what it looks like to prioritize the right things.

I immediately felt that I was out of alignment with myself and my values. I am passionate about women taking a stand for themselves and their priorities and scheduling their time accordingly and here I was resenting someone else for good priority management. I’m not sure I heard much more of the conference call before I abruptly removed myself in order to get into a safe space (my bedroom) to handle the breakdown that was coming in hot!

I laid on the bed and sobbed. Big ugly, painful sobs into my pillow. I knew I was in the wrong. I knew I was out of line and out of alignment and yet I wanted to blame others. I wanted others to be as miserable as I was, working even though I should have been enjoying my vacation with my family. My husband came in to console me and with all the love in the world confirmed that I was off base. It is no one else’s responsibility to manage my priorities. I had slipped into people-pleasing, not wanting to let down my leadership team. The choice was clear, I needed to realign with my priorities, set boundaries, stop working and start living presently on vacation!

The odd thing is that the minute I realized what had happened and I made the decision to get back in alignment with my priorities, a tremendous weight was lifted from my shoulders. The truth was, I was doing a sucky job at both! While trying to get work done on vacation I wasn’t really being effective in my role, therefore causing greater stress to my team AND I was the furthest thing from the present on vacation! Who did I think I was? I called up my leadership team, let them know I was out for the rest of my vacation and would contact them when I was back.

What was their response? I feared that I would disappoint them, let them down, leave them to carry the load. Instead, they respected my boundaries and actually thanked me for being clear! What!? It turns out that they didn’t know what to expect from me while on vacation and it was difficult for them as well. Duh!

Why do I share this whole story? Because often times, the thing we’re doing to “help” others is making us miserable and setting totally unclear exceptions. Worse yet, when we don’t prioritize ourselves and our values we create chaos and quickly fall out of balance. So this is your permission slip, permission to make the hard call. Permission to make decisions based on what’s important for you and your values. You’ll likely find yourself just as surprised as I was that others may even thank you for it. 😉

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