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Boundaries Without Apology

Boundaries Without Apology

Boundaries.

Everyone has their own opinion, experience, take on them.

A boundary is not a bad thing. It’s not evil. Having healthy boundaries doesn’t make us aggressive. Boundaries don’t make us rigid or unapproachable.

I wrote about boundaries a little over a year ago in Business Boundaries to Protect What Matters (check it out here), yet I felt compelled to circle back around and talk more about this hot topic. Nearly every single business person I work with and speak to tells me that boundaries are impacting their business, what appears to be, at greater speeds and with larger impact. Usually, this is due to a lack of boundaries.

As entrepreneurs, we often avoid and don’t maintain boundaries because we don’t fully understand what they are or how to use them.

One View of Boundaries Without Apology

We tend to look at a boundary as a vertical gate that comes down smashing in front of us that says, “You can’t come near me and I can’t go near you …I have a boundary.” It’s a hard line in the sand, a solid wall slamming between us, BOOM! It’s clear, obvious, hard and divisive. It has negative connotations.

That’s what many of us tend to think of when we think of  a boundary, and it’s why we don’t like them … because they exclude people,. They exclude us from being with people, or energy or relationships.

It feels awful, selfish, and hard to be on the other side of that boundary.

The View from the Other Side

I’d like to offer another, different perspective.

The way I think of a boundary is more like a step-ladder, that “thing” that’s going to help intentionally and confidently lift/move you to the next level, the next tier, a very important component that accelerates the growth to where you want to go and grow to in your business.

Ladder

Envision yourself high up on the ladder, keeping your eye on the prize and climbing towards your goals. Up there with you are the people who rely on you, your family, your team, your business, your community.

And the boundary is if we bend down to accommodate someone else’s priority and do what it is they’re asking or ‘needing’ of us, then guess what happens? The ladder is going to fall over, and the people relying on us (ourselves included) are all going to come toppling down as we bend and break the boundary.

When we step down to accommodate someone else’s agenda and priority, we take our eye off the prize of what it is we’re working so damn hard for. It impacts our growth, our success, our bottom line, our team, and our relationships … and quite often, our self-confidence.

But when we hold our boundary and ask the person to come up the ladder and meet us, then we’re saying “I believe in your ability to meet me where I am, then we can move forward together.”

The Role of the Boundary

The boundary is there so we don’t break our back or topple the ladder and everyone relying on us feels the effects too.

It’s inclusive and empowering, instead of divisive and disempowering.

And here’s the thing, when we lack boundaries, we often feel resentment, frustration, and anger and this it drains our energy and vitality.

A lack of boundaries can make us feel scattered and eats away at healthy relationships with family, friends, co-workers, employees, or even (perhaps especially) with ourselves and our business.

And, with boundaries come a sweet little (well, HUGE) perk: work-life balance.

The Benefits of Boundaries Without Apology

When we have boundaries without apology, we simply get more done in less time and we can gain our life back.  We can begin to enjoy again the things that are important to us, the things that drew us into business in the first place.  Freedom, family, wealth, impact, and more fulfillment in each and every day.

4 Key Boundary-Related Categories

In my 27 years as a business owner, and through my work with many business owners in my coaching career, I’ve identified 4 key categories in our business that we need to be hyper-focused on when it comes to boundaries so that we can build the business of our dreams and live the life we want to experience. They are vision, roadmap, time management, and team. Let’s take a look.

Vision

At one point you had a vision, it may have been to make millions, maybe it was to work 10 months a year and travel 2 months with your family (without having to  worry about paying your credit card bills when you get home), max out your 401K, pay for your kids’ college…and have some left over just to play with

But over time you had to bend because this person needed you, that person needed you, and the kids constantly needed rides to school, games, to friends’ houses.

So the big vision over time began to shrink and now it continues to feel out of reach. Suddenly, it’s so tiny it’s more like “ If I could just make payroll this week”…or “ …just take a damn day off!”

A clear vision of where we want our business to go and grow to, allows us to confidently set boundaries and unapologetically say no to the things that aren’t moving us closer to our goals.

And sometimes, those things might be something that we really want to do, but the payoff/tradeoff is so much sweeter knowing in the long run our short-term choice supports our long-term vision.

Roadmap

Roadmap…AKA Business Plan (air quotes here!)

A business plan isn’t just for banks and it’s NOT boring. It’s actually there to keep us on track so we can  MAKE MONEY (a good thing, right?)!

You probably had a clear plan, a roadmap, at some point but employees came and went, a vendor didn’t pull through for an important job, a big client decided they were going in a different direction, and now all of a sudden your roadmap is GPS on haywire.

Nothing or little makes sense anymore, and you’ve become reactive instead of proactive.

This is when you’re in the biggest jeopardy of falling off the ladder … you’re spinning 50 plates in the air, working on deadlines, trying to coordinate employee schedules, family schedules, negotiating a new contract, (fitting in some self-care), and a veritable plethora of To-Dos.

It feels more like putting out fires than following your vision. I know, I get it, I’ve been there.

Being in reactive mode involves constantly bending down from your ladder to accommodate somebody else’s agenda and priorities. Taking your eye off YOUR vision and goals, and ignoring the boundaries you need to achieve your vision.

Your roadmap is what takes your Big Vision and strategically gets you into motion … it’s what creates a solid path to follow and solid boundaries that say “NO,” confidently, intentionally, and without apology.

Roadmap

 

Schedule some time to reconnect to your vision, to your goals for what you want your business AND life to be. Then back out of your vision to create a roadmap that supports you, defines your choices, and cut the edges in for strong boundaries, and for your success.

Many of my clients and colleagues, tell me they don’t have the luxury of slowing down to get clear, to reconnect. That’s like driving down the highway at top speed and saying you don’t have time to stop for gas.

We know what’s going to happen. Make time for your fuel now or get ready to pull out your AAA card for a tow. (And make sure your membership is up to date.)

Time Management

It seems pretty straightforward. We’re all aware of it. While it’s an easy concept, it’s really, really challenging in healthy execution. It’s TIME MANAGEMENT.

It’s a common “business-speak” phrase. We all know it’s important, but do we always recognize just how much? This area is our NON-RENEWABLE currency. Let that sink in … “non-renewable.”

This is the thing we all have a finite amount of. We only get 1 “noon” on Tuesday this week, ever.  And, here’s the kicker: none of us knows what that finite number is.

We’re operating a budget (our budget of time) with no fiscal transparency. Yet we behave like there’s always tomorrow.

Time Management isn’t really about time blocking, setting reminders, and finding 30 minutes to check our e-mail. There IS VALUE to all of that, absolutely. BUT, just coming in and “Managing Our Time” kind of feels like a time out, doesn’t it?

Time Management is about tying it all together…what’s the VISION? HOW are you getting there? WHAT’S your roadmap look like? WHEN are you moving things forward?

Actual TIME MANAGEMENT IS THE RESULT OF having a SOLID PLAN. The plan is the result of having a VISION you’re really excited about.

Our days are our life in miniature. Be vigilant with your time.

Use the law of linkage when someone is asking, or needing, you to step down from your ladder and not honor your boundaries. Link every choice you make today to your vision of the future you’re working so damn hard for.

THIS will allow you to say “no” and take things off your To-Do list, without apology.

Team

Team. It’s the people, business AND personal. It’s the WHO. Your team is who’s supporting you, AND who’s not … and where are the boundaries drawn?

Some examples of team and boundaries include:

  1. An employee coming in late all the time. THAT is a boundary issue.
  2. Your team being reactive instead of proactive—where is your team?
  3. When YOU’RE coming in early and working late. THIS IS A BOUNDARY ISSUE.
  4. It’s not delegating work you could be handing off because you don’t trust your team. This is a boundary issue … as well as a delegation and communication issue, but those are for another discussion.
  5. It’s dropping what you’re working on and running your kids all over town, for the third time this week. That’s a boundary issue.

Team is how we ACHIEVE more without DOING more.

One of the biggest problems I see with the businesses I work with is they’re taking on too much, and in turn their schedule is overloaded, they’re overwhelmed … and they’re moving in reactive mode.

Be sure to have a competent team that you trust and that can handle the work you’re bringing in … or else if you’re saying “yes” to too many things YOU’LL be consumed 24/7 figuring out how to make it all work. And THAT’S a boundary issue.

Where Now?

Could your boundaries use some updating with your team?  Be transparent.  Let them know what’s working and what’s not. Invite them into the conversation of what your vision is.  Share your roadmap.  Ask them where they feel they can best contribute and what are their strengths?

We can’t do this alone.  A team is what will support us and uplift us. Together we’re stronger (I know, I know, the dramatic music plays here, roll with me…) because it’s true.

Lift your head, look around, who’s your tribe?  Who are your power partners?

Remember, a team is how we’re able to achieve more without doing more. It’s a reflection of us establishing a healthy boundary in our business. A boundary that says, “I do not need to do this all alone and I no longer will.”

Healthy boundaries are what make that happen. WITHOUT APOLOGY.

So, think about each of the 4 categories, and consider these 3 powerful questions:

  • Which category is the MOST painful-annoying right now? (What has the biggest choke hold)
  • Thinking of this area, when did I last feel amazing/supported/etc.?
  • What’s ONE THING you can do differently, today?

 

THIS is slowing down without losing momentum…working ON your business.

It’s focusing on you, it’s focusing on your business….you’re just not doing it at your normal 150 MPH!

I’d love to hear how boundaries have supported you in achieving your dreams, leave a comment below.

How Hiring a Team Can Improve Your Bottom Line

Hiring a first team member or expanding your team can bring a boost to your revenue and help you make more money ongoing. But the decision to hire takes time and processing.

In my work as a business strategist, I help entrepreneurs examine what’s working and what isn’t working in their business and I help them create a strategy going forward. One of the most common problems uncovered was the need for a team to support them to run their business more smoothly and more profitably.

How You Know It’s Time to Hire or Build a Team

While many entrepreneurs know they may some day need a team, when to start the process may be a bit of an unknown. Often, when people are not making as much money as they desire they don’t want to consider adding the expense of team. This time, however, can be exactly the right time to invest in a team for a greater return in your business. So, how is a business owner to know?

Four Red Flags to Start Building Your Team

There are some common red flags in businesses that need to hire or expand a team. When you know what to look for and how to examine the issues, it’s easier to make a plan about moving forward. Consider each of these common scenarios as they relate to your business:

  1. Time Management– He can’t do it all and is under the weight of a huge to-do list. He doesn’t have enough time in his day/week to work ON his business so he’s “stuck” building a business that is solely reliant on him to produce all the work … not leaving time (or energy) to increase his client base, and hence, bottom line.

 

  1. Work-Life balance– He’s trying to do it all, and realizing he simply can’t, yet doesn’t have a plan of action to bring more balance to his day … putting the one thing he’s seeking on the back burner (balance) while he’s putting out fires.

 

  1. Needing to increase profit, but not enough time in the day to do all the work already on her plate AND do the extra needed to bring her business to the next level. So she stays doing the same thing hoping for different results.

 

  1. Not having the “right” clients– This business owner is looking to up her game and work with more luxury clients but needs more time and money to attract said clients. Unfortunately she’s working so hard IN her business that she has no time left over at the end of the day, week, month or quarter to invest what is needed to up-level her game and attract the high-end clients she’s looking to work with.  She wants to add to her team, and knows she needs to, yet she says she doesn’t have the time to onboard and train a new team member.

 

Do any of these sound familiar to you?  Have you experienced one, or perhaps all, of these scenarios at different stages of your business growth?

The Decision to Hire a Team

I know I’ve experienced each of the four red flags at different points over the 27-years I’ve been an entrepreneur. Not a fun place to be stuck spinning your wheels. I found a way out in the way of a team of support and it’s a way for you, too.

As we scale our business, taking it to the next level, we need to achieve more without doing more.

To do this, we need to start offloading some of the spinning plates we’re fighting to keep in the air so we can focus on GROWING our business … and start to gain our life back.

When the business is reliant on you to produce all (or a majority of) the work, it leaves no time to work ON your business … if you’re the one selling, building, and delivering the widgets, who’s doing the work to GROW the business?

Building an effective team is what will support you to, produce more without doing more. This is what I’ve done in my business and I’ve helped my clients to do the same.

How to Get Started with Building a Team

Here are 3 steps to building a team so you can start handing off a few of those spinning plates you’ve been balancing so delicately:

  1. Clarity: Get clear on what the position is you’re filling. What are the specific activities you need this person to do? Which position would give you the most amount of time back so that you can regain some much needed joy in your day AND allow you to focus on growing your business? What is it that you do repetitively that you could start systematizing and hand off to a new hire?

 

  1. Character: Hire on attitude not aptitude…someone could look like a perfect fit on paper, but if they don’t fit the culture, the environment, of your business, it simply won’t be a good fit. It’s easy to work with a new team member that has a positive attitude, but it’s nearly impossible to teach someone how to play nicely in the sandbox if it’s not in their nature.

 

  1. Communicate: Share your vision for your company with your team. Communicate where your business is going, and growing to … and why. Letting your team know your vision and inviting them to participate in it helps them to not only feel successful but to be successful. A successful team creates a successful business. A win-win in my book!

 

Is It Time for You to Build a Team?

When time management and productivity isn’t enough to accomplish all you need to get done in your business, it may be time to consider hiring a team member or expanding your existing team. Be sure you take stock of your current state of your business to determine the right path for you and to find the right people to join your team. If I can support you to determine if it’s time for you to hire and to help you through the process, please reach out here.

I’d love to hear from you. Do you share your vision with your team members? How do you best communicate with your team?  Comment below and let’s start the conversation.

Give me a shout at Lisa@LisaDanforth.com or send me a private message on FB here.

Slowing Down So That You Can Gain Momentum

Too busy working IN your business to slow down and work ON it?

Hell, that’s like flying down the highway at mock speed with no time to stop for gas.  Doesn’t sound very productive when I put it that way, does it?

I know, I know, it goes completely against the grain of business owners when I tell them we need to slow down…we need to slow the runaway freight train we’re on so we can clearly look at why crazy busy has become a way of life.

Eyes pop, heads tilt and I hear, ‘Are you BLEEPING serious?  I can’t do that, I’ll lose all my momentum.”

The thing is, we need to slow down SO THAT WE CAN GAIN MOMENTUM. Efficiently, Effectively AND Intentionally.

Slowing down sounds counter intuitive, I agree, but hear me out.

Yes, we do need to keep our businesses moving.  You’ll get no push back from me there, yet we need to pull over for the occasional pit stop and make sure our GPS is up to date…or we’ll run out of fuel and our map will be outdated, then where will we be?

One of the hardest parts of building a financially secure, lifestyle business is periodically putting on the breaks.

Here’s the thing….

Bam!  Such true words by a true visionary.

And, keep in mind, simple does not necessarily mean easy…far from it (more on simple vs easy here).  If it did we’d all be fit as a fiddle and your mom wouldn’t keep asking you why you don’t call more often (sorry mom, I’ll dial you up as soon as I finish this blog, promise).

TIP: Try a little “Compassionate Investigation’ when a perceived easy task is tripping you up.  Let the judgements go and simply be curious about what’s going on.

Beating yourself up with thoughts of ‘why the hell is this so hard for me, what the BLEEP is wrong with me??’ will not help you out here. Trust me on this one, I’ve tried.  MANY times and it’s never worked.  Ever.  Ugh, the stories I could tell you…but that’s an entirely different blog.

Anywho, back to the discussion at hand.

Slowing down so that we can gain clarity on exactly what it is we want from this one big beautiful life is what will clear the way for us to get there.

It’s what makes discerning if a task is important or simply keeping us busy, an easy and quick decision to make.

Think about it this way: when you know your present location and you know where you’re headed, ONLY THEN can you plot the most direct route to get you there.  Straight shot, or scenic route.  Your choice.

So, make a date with yourself.  Schedule a block of uninterrupted time in your week to look deeply at what it is you’re working so damn hard for.

Get crystal clear on the end result you’re investing your most precious commodity (time) in.

Remember, if an action isn’t moving your closer to your goals, it’s moving you further away when you’re spending your time and energy on it.

Be sure to create a calm and inviting space, one that you’ll enjoy spending some time in and feel good about slowing down for.  Doesn’t need to be fancy or over the top, simply a space that’s inviting to you.

Do you like flowers? Grab yourself a fabulous little bouquet to set on your desk while you work.

Is music inspiring for you? Put on your favorite artist and dance to get yourself in a state of joy and creativity before getting started. (This one always puts me in a good mood to work OR play)

Does being surrounded by clutter, clutter your mind?  Take 15 minutes to clear your work space before jumping in.

Love nature?  Get outside and go for a walk…let Mother Nature set the stage for you.

Not sure how to slow down without losing momentum?  Give me a shout and let’s set up a free Clarity Call where we’ll look at what’s underlying your busyness and what the challenges are that’s getting in the way of you creating the lifestyle business you’re working so hard to create.  Click here to apply.

Stuck on the Spinning Cycle

‘I am SO done with the amount of work I’m doing’.  Ever been there? Said that? FELT that?

Most entrepreneurs have at some point in their business.  It’s not a fun space to be in.  Especially when all the hours you’re putting in aren’t moving the dial on your business.

I know. I’ve been there. This is normal, trust me. But you can’t stay there long. Not if you want to make that business and lifestyle dream a reality.

It can feel a bit like being stuck on the spinning cycle, pinned to the walls and not able to step off…or even lift your head.  Kind of makes you dizzy and exhausted thinking about it, doesn’t it?

The question ‘Is your business running you or are you running your business?’ has been a big topic of conversation that keeps popping up with the entrepreneurs I speak with.

Being in business for yourself can at times feel like being on a run-away freight train.

You don’t want to quit (you have too much time and money invested) but you don’t know how to slow it down and you don’t know what to do.

Resonate with any of you entrepreneurs out there?  Especially the multi-passion entrepreneurs with 2-3 businesses.

So, the burning question is:

It doesn’t have to be so hard, but we do need to figure it out before overwhelm and procrastination sets in and it becomes even harder to get anything done.

Yes, you can gain control of your business and have a life again…a life that you enjoy and where your business isn’t running you.

One of the first questions I ask when an entrepreneur tells me they’re consumed by their business, and their work-life balance is completely out of whack (more on balance here) is:

 

‘How are you prioritizing your time?”

 

More often than not, they can’t tell me.  At least not with clarity and specifics.

One way to slow down while not losing speed is to simply keep a log of where you’re spending your time during your day.   It doesn’t need to be a big production, something simple like keeping a log on your cell phone will do just fine.

Awareness is key here. 

When we are aware of what we’re choosing to spend our time on, we can discern whether it’s productive and moving us closer to our goals, or simply busy time.

Awareness helps us make better choices.

If an action isn’t moving us closer to our goals, it is in fact moving us further away.  Time and energy spent cannot be recouped.

Better choices bring better results.  Period.

A tip I recommend is Time Chunking.

Most of the important work you do will require larger chunks of uninterrupted time. Yes, this means turning off our phone, closing out of your email and Facebook.

I even suggest hanging a ‘Doing Important Work, Do Not Disturb’ sign on your door so people (i.e. family if you work from home) know to not interrupt you. (More on setting Boundaries here…)

To experience the most success with Time Chunking, schedule your day in advance.  This can be done first thing in the morning or perhaps at the end of the day, planning out your following day.

When you time chunk AND schedule your day in advance, you’ll be more efficient and effective in your day.  You’ll be more productive and be able to create more time (and income) for what’s important.

Tired of feeling like your business is running you? Apply for a complimentary Clarity Call where we’ll examine which area of your business is causing you the most angst right now and what the underlying issues may be.  Click Here To Apply.

Are YOU Earning Your Busy Merit Badge?

Many of the entrepreneurs I know would give a resounding “yes” to that question!  Maybe you would too.  By the end of this blog post you might not feel so strongly about it, though.

My private one-on-one work with clients always begins with getting them in touch with their deepest desires and doing some Big Vision planning.

Next we dive deep into structure. We tackle the big three: time management, boundary-setting, and building a schedule.  Let’s start with time management, a hot topic these days!

Time management can feel a bit like going backwards.  Do you think about the timeslots of your day and eventually find yourself thinking, “this is NOT the freedom I wanted when I left my job!”?  Maybe you left a stifling structure behind when you broke out on your own.  Maybe you built your business on the side while working full time.  But now that you’re out on your own, you are busy all. the. time. And still not getting enough done!

Being “busy” is all the rage.  In fact, Silvia Bellezza, a professor of marketing at Columbia Business School, recently did a study that found that there’s a common idea that “a busy person possesses desired human capital characteristics (competence, ambition) and is scarce and in demand.”

But being busy might be killing us.  Bellezza wrote, “Working all the time is dysfunctional and becoming a workaholic society is not healthy.”, and….it’s not sustainable.

Okay, chances are you didn’t follow your passion in order to become a workaholic.  You wanted flexibility and freedom!  Nonetheless, we’ve still got to get the structure in place in our business so that we can have the fun and freedom we’d dreamed of in our big full lives.  You’ve probably heard me say this before: Structure = Freedom.

One thing about a merit badge: it’s to show other people.

If you’re finding that by Friday your to-do list is longer than ever and you’ve run out of time, we should talk.  If you want to work less, earn more, and create the lifestyle you dream of, you are in the right place!  Sign up here for a complimentary 1-hour clarity call where we can talk about the ways I can help.

Celebrating Success Invites More Of It

Do you set goals for yourself, work your tail off, push through the struggle, then simply give yourself a little nod (if that) when you’ve hit your target instead of celebrating your success?

In talking with women, I’m hearing this is an all too common theme.  We set goals (this in itself calls for a celebration much of the time), achieve them, and yet we rarely slow down long enough to acknowledge, feel and CONNECT to the emotion of our successes.  We check it off the list and…on to the next thing.

Most of us are masters at beating ourselves up for not getting to everything on our to-do list or meeting a goal, but the majority of us don’t even think to celebrate when we do meet a goal make a dent in our mile long to-do list.

A coach I met during my coach certification once announced to the class, ‘What we don’t celebrate turns to shit.’  Kind of took the air out of the room for a moment.

Here’s the point he was making- we remember things through emotion.  So, when we need a positive emotion to help us through a tough time, it’s not there to lean on.  We struggle, questioning if we really have what it takes.

For some reason it’s much easier to pull up a negative memory or emotion for us to experience (over and over) like shame, anger, fear, guilt or frustration.  We connect to those negative emotions viscerally, and can recall them in an instant…because we have a stockpile of them to draw from.

We have got to start celebrating our successes so we have an arsenal of positive emotions to draw from when we hit a bump in the road.

As a business owner, having the ability to access positive emotions when that bump is about to throw us off course (full throttle down the rabbit hole of second guessing everything we’re doing) gives us the tools to choose whether we tumble head first down the hole, or whether we choose a different path.

By celebrating, we’re able to say and feel “Ahhh, here is an example of when I succeeded.”  Otherwise, we’re inclined to let our good old friends Self Doubt and Mind Chatter invite themselves over to the party and stay waaayyyy too long.

When we celebrate, we’re giving ourselves more positive emotions to connect with and kicking Self-Doubt and Mind Chatter to the curb.

When we focus on what we haven’t accomplished, we fail to see what we have done.

Celebrating doesn’t have to be dropping a ton of cash, booking an extravagant Caribbean vacation or even involve a great deal of time – though it can be any of those if you want, cuz’, hey, wouldn’t all of those be nice!

It can be as simple as going for a walk, scheduling a Ladies Night,  going out for ice cream or dinner with your family or a friends.  Maybe it’s buying yourself something small, but decadent…something that makes you smile like a new journal, that perfect color lipstick you’ve been coveting for a month now or a new book.

It takes courage to celebrate our successes.

As women, it can feel selfish or even somewhat arrogant to think we should celebrate ourselves, our accomplishments or call attention to our successes.

It can feel like we’re in a foreign land when we start to toot our own horn.  We’ve spent so little time celebrating our Self and discovering our strengths we’re not quite sure how to go about doing it.

We need to toot our own horn loud, long and with gusto when we reach our goals.

Not only does it feed our soul and fill our own bucket, it makes us feel better emotionally, physically and financially.  A win-win-win, wouldn’t you agree?

It also makes us better moms by modeling for our children that we realize we are also worthy of celebration.  It makes us better business partners by filling us with more confidence.  It also makes us better life partners by making us more empowered to walk alongside rather than behind.

Here are three tips for Celebrating Your Successes:

  1. Set your goals so you know when you’ve hit your mark and achieved success.
  2. Decide ahead of time what you’ll do to celebrate when you’ve hit your mark, your goal, or simply crossed a bunch off your to-to list.
  3. Have an accountability partner who makes sure you actually follow through on celebrating – someone who will support you and hold your feet to the fire.

“If you don’t celebrate your success, it won’t celebrate you!” – Julian Hall