Boundaries

There’s a calm that comes over you when you’ve had a long vacation. Sabbatical travel is something I’ve come to believe in firmly. Per my friends at MeetPlanGo: The term sabbatical actually is derived from the biblical Sabbath which serves an ancient human need to build periods of rest and rejuvenation into a lifetime.

I take a long vacation every year, consisting of 2-3 wks. It’s my sanity. Today, after 14 days of being away, I finally felt as though I could breathe. I removed Facebook from my phone, put up my Christmas tree, spent time with my grandmother, mother, sister, nieces & nephew, and made spiced pecans.
On the way home from my sister’s house, I took a deep breath and focused on the goal of keeping that calmness on Monday when I return to work.

I’m passionate about my career, and I’m pretty darn good at it. However, my biggest struggle is carrying other people’s stress. I call them monkeys. I walk around on the daily with twenty monkeys on my back, and none of them belong to me. I’m a helper and caregiver by nature, so I instinctively offer assistance whether it’s my role or not.

And, that’s not OK.

It’s OK to care and OK to want to help, but it’s not OK to lose sleep over someone else’s issue. It’s not OK to have anxiety about returning to work because you’re worried about keeping a crazy pace vs letting others down.

There comes a point when you have to put the work day away and be present in the rest of your life. Breathe the air, be calm, and focus on what God has blessed you with outside of the work-world.

I know I’m not the only one who struggles with this. Here are my tips for setting boundaries and keeping them in your work life (and beyond):

1. Have a set begin time and end time. My voicemail clearly states what times clients can expect to reach me. If a client calls before 9am, I won’t be answering. If a call comes in after 6pm, it’s screened, and at 7pm my phone is turned off. On Saturdays, I keep my phone on for 3 hours in the afternoon. Outside of those business hours, I’m focusing on my family, my health and my God.

2. Live in abundance. This rule stands to respond to the people who challenge rule #1 by asking, “What if you miss something?”. I don’t live in that type of scarcity mindset. I choose to live in abundance, believing that the things that are meant for me will find me and not require me to be something I’m not. If I miss out, it’s because that item wasn’t mine to begin with. My personal time with family, friends, and church is worth something that can’t be repaid by spending another hour at the office, which brings me to # 3.

3. Know your worth. Know that you are worth more than a phone call, or record-breaking goal, or someone else’s judgement of you. You and your personal time are worth more than a dollar figure. Stop justifying working longer by how much more money you’re earning. There are things much more valuable than a dollar bill, people.

4. Stop looking for things to satisfy what only experiences can quench. I make my living in Real Estate, yet live in just over 800 sf, and pay myself very little. Why? Because my house is not me. I don’t want the big house, or big things. I want the memories with friends and family, and the experiences all over the world. I remember when we were living in an old apartment with original wood floors, and no central a/c a few years ago while we struggled to build the successful business we have today. A friend came over and asked if the apartment was “government assisted housing”. We still laugh about that. I loved that stupid tiny apartment, with its view of the park. I loved walking to the park daily and I loved the character that those original hardwoods had. I never once questioned moving into it. The first time I saw it, I asked for the keys and an application and made the receptionist promise she wouldn’t give it to anyone else. It’s all about perspective.

5. Don’t compromise when it comes to the things that mean more than money. Once your boundaries are set, stick to them. No excuses, no justifications. Once you break them the first time, they are THAT much  easier to break again and again. These are promises to yourself, and no one will respect them unless you do. People will make it sound like their world is ending because you took time for yourself and weren’t available. It’s not. Believe me. The universe has both everything and nothing to do with your time off.

6. Once a year, take a sabbatical. Take a week, minimum. If you can swing longer, go for it. For me, the magic number is 2 wks. Get off social media, see things you’ve not seen before (whether in town or out of town), and write, draw, photograph, or make music. Do something with your brain that stretches it just a little. “Man’s mind, once stretched, never regains its original form.”
Once you’ve seen the world from the other side, you realize you can go back, changed & ready to keep those boundaries in place.

tamihallman

Thoughts? I'd love to hear them!