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AMY PORTERFIELD: Well, hey, there. Amy Porterfield here. Welcome back to another episode of the Online Marketing Made Easy podcast.
Listen, can I ask you a personal question? How good are you at setting boundaries; and even more so, how good are you at actually committing to your boundaries when you do set them? If you get a little uncomfortable here, it's probably because you know you need to set boundaries, both personally and professionally—don't we all?—but committing to them is a very different story. I get it. The struggle is real, especially when it comes to setting boundaries that you know you need to set but you're feeling pulled to do so many things. That's why today I'm going to show you how to set, commit, and benefit from building your very own boundaries.
But first, I just want to take a moment to thank you for joining me today. I know that I say this a lot, but you have so many options for business podcasts and marketing podcasts, and I feel really honored that you are listening today. And I want to encourage you to subscribe to this podcast. We've been making some big moves, doing some new things, and creating some extra-special bonus episodes that you will only hear of if you're subscribed on Spotify or iTunes or wherever you listen to this podcast.
Also, just recently, we had a really great conversation in the Online Marketing Made Easy community. You know I have a free Facebook group for this podcast, right? You can search for us inside of Facebook, and you'll find us. But there was this really awesome conversation going on about a bonus episode, and there were some people jumping in saying, “Hey, what are you guys talking about? Where's that episode? I didn't get the email.” And we typically don't email by design. We don't email the bonus episodes. We only just throw them up on iTunes or Spotify or wherever you listen, and that's how you get access to them. So if you want to be a part of the conversation—and these conversations are so good—inside the Facebook group, don't miss an episode. Go to iTunes and subscribe right now to the podcast so you don't miss a thing.
Okay, back to boundaries. I recently was speaking at the RISE Business Conference with Rachel Hollis, and Marie Forleo was onstage. And Marie always says so many great insightful things about boundaries because I feel like she's, like, a boundary master. And so when she's talking boundaries, I'm paying attention. And this is what she said: “Machines are built to work 24/7, but not human beings. It's crucial that we put boundaries in place for ourselves, to have offline time, exercise and sleep, time with loved ones and friends and family that's not tethered to a screen. That's how we start to get into the dance between being effective and productive with our time, and also being healthy and sane human beings.” Preach, sister, preach. She is so right about that.
And I know there are a lot of approaches to boundaries and actually setting the boundaries, so this is how we're going to break down this topic. First of all, we're going to talk about a few different areas in your life that most likely could use a little boundary setting. Next, we'll talk about getting clear on your boundaries, and setting them. Then, committing to them. And lastly, respecting your own boundaries and other people's boundaries as well. I have some very specific approaches and practices—imagine that. I've planned for this episode—that you can use in terms of boundaries. So I want you to take the things we talk about today, and I want you to put them into action. Can I get an amen? (I’m just going to pretend you just yelled “amen” on the subway, in the car with your kids, while you’re running on the Treadmill, wherever. I hope you did it.) So my goal for you is to walk away from today's episode really clear on what your boundaries are, what they look like, and I want you to start to put them into practice. All right. So, let’s get into all things boundaries.
Before we dive into boundaries—what they are, how to set them—we have to begin by talking about your why. Is this earth-shattering? No. I’ll be the first to say that you’ve probably heard this from health, wellness, and business coach out there, including me. So why am I bringing it up yet again? Because it will literally be your saving grace when you’re thinking about sleeping in instead of going to the gym, or scheduling that last business call instead of sitting down to dinner with your family. What I’m trying to say is that you’re going to be tempted over and over again to throw in the towel and overstep your own boundaries. I get it 100 percent. I wish I didn’t get it, but I do.
And I also understand who I'm speaking to and that you're probably like me. If you are, at least, you would easily put work before things that are really important to you. Let me say that again. If you're anything like me, then you've had those moments where you have put work before things that are actually really important to you and things that you have well-intended boundaries around. This is that dirty little conversation that we don't want to have, but we've got to get honest with ourselves, which is why I need to give you a gentle reminder that having a clear, unshakable why needs to be a priority.
So what's your why? Why are you setting these boundaries? Why is it so important to you? Are you setting these boundaries because it's important for your family? Or maybe your family's asking you to set these boundaries. Maybe it's your health, your business, or spirituality. Start thinking about your why, and keep coming back to it throughout this episode.
I want to share with you really quickly my why of why I need boundaries in my life. Number one, I have a husband who is asking me to make more time for him. I’ve told you guys this many times on this podcast. I go through seasons in my business. I'm super intense. It's really a lot of work, a lot of focus. And then I come out of it. But when I'm in the intense-focus time, though, that season, sometimes I take that season a little bit too long, and Hobie will say, “Hi. I'm your husband. I'd like a little extra time with you.” And it's embarrassing to even admit that to you because he is literally the love of my life, the most-important person, the person that is my best friend, that I love dearly, that I love to spend all my time with him. And even so, I will at times put work before Hobie, even when I have boundaries. And so for me, my why is that I cherish a healthy, loving, intimate marriage. My marriage above all is what is my why. Like, a healthy, loving, amazing, exciting marriage. And so if that went away and I still had work, I’d be devastated. And so that’s my why. I mean, I have other whys—definitely one being my health. I want to reach my goal weight. I want to thrive. I want to feel energetic and good. So my health is another one—but if you told me I could just have one, it’d be my marriage.
So I put it back to you. What is your why? Even if you just want to pause just for a quick second so I don't keep talking, and just think about it. Get really clear. Why do you need specific boundaries? And if you're thinking of a lot of whys or maybe you're just coming up blank right now, then I'm going to help you through this episode.
But I want to start by focusing on different areas that you might want to consider setting boundaries in, especially as an entrepreneur. As I mentioned, if you're anything like me, if you don't have set boundaries, you're going to find yourself stretched too thin—dare I say the “o” word?—overwhelmed, and exhausted. You're not going to have the time and energy for the things that matter most to you in your life.
So let's talk about a few areas in your life that you might want to consider setting clear boundaries. Now, these areas have been revealed to me through personal experience and just through a lot of conversations that I've had with my students. So hearing from my students—many of you—in the areas of your life where you’ve set or failed to set boundaries has really helped me to understand some boundaries that, quite frankly, are just essential to set as an entrepreneur. So as we talk through these areas, I want you to decide which areas of your life need a bit more structure in order for you to thrive.
So just because one area needs to have maybe a restriction in my life or the lives of my students doesn't mean that that area will speak to you. So I want you to really pay attention and say, like, “Does that kind of hit me in the gut? Is this the one area?” I might say marriage to you, and you might be single, or you might be thinking, “No, I got that locked down. I feel good about that one. But I feel as though the area of spirituality is weak for me, and I crave that more.”
That’s another really great word to think about. Like, what are you craving right now in your life that you do not have or you are not getting? I won’t harp on Mr. Hunky Hobie, but, like, sometimes I just crave time with him, and when I have that craving, I know, “Oh, it’s because I’m depleted in that area. I haven’t been filling that area up.” So that’s kind of another way to look at it.
Okay, so, let’s dive in.
Oprah says it best in the beginning of her SuperSoul Conversations podcast. She says, “Time is one of the best things you can give yourself.” Yes, Oprah. Yet again, you are correct. When you get more intentional and clear about the boundaries around our time, I can pretty much guarantee that you’re going to find that you have more time to do the things that you love, the things that recharge you and boost your creativity, which if you're an entrepreneur, is extremely important. So let's chat a little bit about what my time boundaries look like. And my hope is that you find inspiration in some of these examples and use them to set boundaries for yourself.
So first of all, one of the most-important boundaries you have to set as soon as possible is laying out what your ideal week looks like. Now, this concept of ideal week comes from Michael Hyatt’s Full Focus Planner and the system around that. So if you are a fan of the Full Focus Planner, you know what I'm talking about. I'm going to link to it in the show notes for Episode 296. It's kind of changed my life. Not to be dramatic, but it has. So, here’s kind of the breakdown, though.
I want to encourage you to begin with what I like to call non–negotiables. These are the dates—the appointments with yourself and those important to you like your family—and the habits that you require daily, weekly, or yearly to show up as your best self. So, for example, some of my daily non-negotiables are walking Scout, coffee with Hobie on his days off from the fire station, no morning meetings until 9:00 a.m., and no mandatory work-related things in the evening. So around six o'clock, my goal is to shut it down. Now, sometimes I have to commit to something that doesn't align with my boundaries, like a morning or evening meeting or some kind of work function. When I'm traveling, it definitely looks a whole lot different. But overall, these are some of the boundaries I've set, and I've communicated with my team and my family as well.
Now, some of my weekly non-negotiables include working out three times or more each week on my Peloton Tread. You know, I kind of love that thing. And always on Tuesdays—you're going to laugh. I've talked about it before, though—I get a blowout. So, for the boys, a blowout is basically someone blow drying your hair and styling it. And every Tuesday, I do tons of video. It’s when I kind of batch my video projects. I batch all my Facebook Lives. If you’re in Momentum, my brand-new membership experience, you know the trainings and the Q&As are on Tuesdays. If you’re in the Insiders Club, which is my alumni for Digital Course Academy®️, you know we do a Tuesday Q&A once a month. So Tuesday’s are my day. And so Sean, my hairstylist, lives five minutes from me, and she’ll come over every Tuesday morning for a blowout. I know. It sounds very bougie, but it happens. So, those are some of my weekly non-negotiables.
And then a yearly non-negotiable would be there has to be time in the calendar for mini vacations for Hobie and I. And this is something that we recently sat down and talked about. And we did some this year—we’re getting ready to go into 2020 at the time I record this—so we did vacations this year, but they weren’t really planned in advance. So this time, when Chloe and I sat down to plan out the promotional calendar for 2020, she was really smart and she said, “Let’s get your Hobie vacations on the calendar now.”
So there’s four of them on the calendar, ranging from three to five days total. So they're not super extravagant. In 2020 we're going to Kenya with Village Impact, Stu and Amy McLaren's nonprofit, where we build schools, and then we have a little fun and take a safari. And we're taking Cade. So that's like a 14-day or 10– to 14–day trip, so that's already on the calendar. But the little mini vacations with Hobie and I—for birthdays and anniversaries and just to get away—I already put them on the calendar. So we'll for sure go to Mexico. We’ll probably go to Blackberry Farm in Tennessee. Those are two of our favorites. So we typically will do those vacations and a few more. So those are on the calendar. Okay, so, again, I get these on the calendar, and they're cemented in. I give Hobie the dates. He takes work off way in advance. Like, they're happening. They won’t even move if Oprah called. Who am I joking? Of course, they will. Hobie would encourage us to move them. So, Oprah, if you’re listening, girl, I’ll move them. But other than that, they don’t get moved.
So, here’s the deal. All my non-negotiables have a strong why, a why that goes deeper than just something superficial. In fact, I was recently watching something on Instagram, and this female entrepreneur was talking about how she works out daily, and she said nothing, absolutely nothing, can get in the way of her workouts. Now, when she said this, like, I believed her. I could tell she was determined to get those workouts in. But here's what I loved that she said next. She says, “Listen, my why isn't so that I look better or look thinner.” She said, “That feels superficial to me.” And she said, “That won't get me out of bed at 5:00 a.m.” She says, as an entrepreneur, she knows that she's going to feel better. She's going to think differently. She's going to have the energy to show up for her big goals and dreams if she does her daily workout. So that's why nothing's getting in the way.
Now, interestingly enough, she's tying it back to business, and that's totally cool. Whatever gets you to actually set the boundaries, make your non-negotiables, make it happen. It can be tied to work. It can be tied to family, spirituality, whatever you want. But you've got to get a why that literally will get you out of bed. So as you start thinking about your why for any boundary you set, ask yourself, will this get me out of bed? Even if, let's say you don't have to get out of bed at 5:00 a.m., but would this be a why that would get me out of bed at 5:00 a.m.? If the answer is no, let's work on that why. Deal? Okay.
So after she said that, I had to find a bigger, better why. I was inspired by how clear and intentional and committed she was to her boundaries around working out. Now, mine are the same way. I carve out time for Hobie every single morning that he's home from the fire station because of my why of wanting an amazing, over-the-top, spectacular marriage. So our relationship is what it's about. Now, I could also say I don't want our relationship to suffer. So sometimes my why is around what I don't want, but I try to give it that positive slant as well.
And then the workouts. I definitely want to reach my goal weight, and it was something that I wanted to do in 2019, and I didn't hit the goal weight. So now it's like, all right, we're going to make it happen in 2020. But more so than the goal weight, I needed to set a bigger why of why I work out three days or more a week and why I plan my food and why I eat the way I do and all of that. And it's so that I will feel good just as I am. So every day, when I get off that Peloton and I am getting ready for the morning, I feel amazing. For the record, I don't feel amazing when I first step on it. I don't want to do it. I'll never be the girl that loves to work out. However, once I get going, I'm like, yes, this was a good decision. I want to feel that way as often as possible. That's why I say three or more. I'd like to work out three-plus days a week, but let's just stick to three. Baby steps, right? So I want to feel amazing every day, no matter what weight I'm at. And that to me gets me out of bed more so than one day I want to be at my goal weight. So I made it more than just the weight.
Speaking of morning rituals, daily rituals, ideal work-week rituals, whatever it might be, when you know that you have these rituals, you tend to plan your day around them. And so that's why it's easier to set the boundaries and not waver, because you've planned them in advance. So again, I want you to be very, very clear on your why and the cost of not sticking to it as well. Good?
Okay, I have another one for you, and I know that you might want to hear this one, but we got to talk about it. Setting boundaries around social media and screen time. It is a tough one for sure, especially as an entrepreneur. I totally get it. I remember one time I was scrolling through Instagram, and we were having a coffee date. This was before—Hobie and I—this was before the rule was phones have to be turned upside down so you can’t even see them even if someone texts you. So when we were doing coffee dates in the early days when he had asked, “Hey, I want this time in the morning,” we would kind of check our phones or like, “Oh, let me look that up real fast,” during a conversation. And so I got sucked into Instagram, and I’m scrolling it. And Hobie’s like, “Hey, put the phone down.” I’m like, “Listen, this is my job. I’m in online marketing. I got to check these things.” And the look he gave me was like, you are so full of BS it’s not even funny. And he’s right. I totally used my business as an excuse why I was scrolling through Instagram. Guys, we cannot do that. So he fully called me out. And this is a big deal for me. I could be sucked in right away.
Speaking of being sucked in, actually, that reminds me, my girl, Marie Forleo—we talked about it earlier—but in her book Everything is Figureoutable, which, by the way, holy cow. Really, really good. I know I’m biased. I love her dearly. But this book is phenomenal, so if you haven’t picked up Everything is Figureoutable, make sure you grab it. But in the book, she talks about social media and media consumption, and in general, she calls it a time suck. And she talks about how we must create before we consume. Now, this is really a big deal, so pay attention here. We must create before we consume. I wholeheartedly stand behind this.
So as an entrepreneur, you know we need to be creative. There's no ifs, ands, or buts about it. You've got to be the creative visionary behind your brand. So have you ever stopped to think that social media could be depleting your creative juice? Tough one, right? So Marie isn't saying go cold turkey and stop media consumption altogether. She's not saying that at all. But she makes a great argument that (a) we should focus on creating before we spend time consuming, whether that’s social media or Netflix or the news or whatever, and (b) she says that every choice we make is saying yes to one thing and no to another. I'm going to repeat it. Every choice we make is saying yes to one thing and no to another. This is huge with boundaries. I think if you shut me off and you're like, “Okay, I've had enough of Amy today,” I hope that's the one thing that you take with you. And the next time you say yes to something, remember you're saying no to something else. For sure. For sure. So I just want you to remember that.
So if you don’t give yourself boundaries around consuming social media and spending time binging Netflix, which a lot of us do—totally guilty; raising my hand here. You can't see me—that means that you are unintentionally saying yes to those things over saying yes to doing things like working out or cooking a healthy meal or working on finishing your digital course—hint, hint—or writing that email or creating that freebie or whatever it is, all the stuff that you and I talk about all the time. So when you say yes to Netflix, scrolling Instagram, Facebook, whatever it might be, you are saying no to something else in that moment. And sure, we're all going to scroll Instagram. Some of us will find the time to binge Netflix. (I'm always in awe of the people that say they don't watch TV. I think they're not human.) But we'll always find time for that. But just be clear. Are you also doing the things that really mean a lot to you, and are you getting that stuff done as well? And the goal is that you do both but you find time for all those things versus you say you're going to record that podcast episode, but you're scrolling through Instagram. That's when you're saying no to your commitment to batching the podcast. That’s the kind of stuff we have to think about. So when you give yourself some boundaries around consumption, you'll be amazed at how you have the clarity and the focus to actually do the things that you said you were going to do.
Okay, so let's talk about setting boundaries around your business. You knew I was going to go there, right? So this means boundaries around what hours your workday consists of and how you spend your time. And again, we've got to talk about those non-negotiables. So boundaries around how people can get a hold of you, and boundaries about what you say yes to and what you say no to, and also boundaries about how much you take on, especially if you're working one-on-one with clients. This is actually an area that I failed to set boundaries in early on—you guys have heard me talk about this over and over again—and I paid for it. I literally built a business I hated because I had zero boundaries with any of my clients. I often joke, and, of course, you've heard me say it before, but I'd get on a call with a client, and if it was a coaching call or a consultant-type call or whatever it might be, we'd end the call, and I'd look at my notebook, and I'd have, like, ten action items that I said I would do. And if I were able to jump through the phone and look at their notebook, they might have one. So I would end calls with clients where I had all of the action items, and it was my fault. I'd be like, “Oh, I'll do that. I'll do that. Oh, you don’t know how to do that. Let me just get it done.” I was miserable. So setting boundaries on what you actually will commit to doing for your coaching clients, for your consulting clients, is huge, but also, just how many you take on and how long are the calls?
I was having—I don't think he'd mind me saying this—I was having coffee with Rick Mulready, literally yesterday, and he has this huge heart. And he doesn’t work one-on-one with clients, but he was doing some calls for one of his masterminds that he’s filling up. And he said, “Amy, I'll get on a call with someone, and even if they're not the right fit, they're not going to be a right fit for my mastermind, I'll stay on with them thirty, forty minutes beyond that, just helping them with an issue they had.” And I told him, I said, “You have such a big heart. You love people so much.” And at the same time, he's like, “Yeah. And I've got other things I committed to doing that day, and I'll just get sucked in.” And so it's okay if you do it once in a while. And also give yourself a little grace, saying, “I care deeply about people.” But if it's happening over and over again—let's say this was happening to Rick and it was sucking up every day, which it's not, but if it was—that's when he's like, “Ooh, I've got to rein this back.” So a little is fine; a lot screws you up. So when it's happening more often than not, that's when you have to get honest with yourself.
Okay, so another area that I like to set boundaries for in my business is how often I speak onstage and where I speak. So now it's a little bit different. I went for a few years of speaking anywhere and everywhere, anyone that would have me. And when you’re scrappy in the early days, there’s nothing wrong with that. I probably did it a little longer than I needed to. But let's say the first year out, you're finding your message. You're finding your footing. You want to get better onstage. You're honing in on your ICA. When you get asked to speak, most often than not, you're going to say yes. But as you get into your two, three, and beyond, I think where the boundary is, is one, do you want to be on the road that much? Every time I'm away from my home office, I am not as productive. And so I actually can make a whole lot more money, impact a whole lot more lives as the business I have set up now with being in my home office, creating the content, doing the webinars, creating the trainings, doing my podcast, all of that is super-high value for me and my business. So you take me out into the world, and I am out there way too much, my business will suffer and I will. I don't like being out of my routine that much. So I'm very careful of where I speak. And it has to be to an audience that genuinely would eventually down the road want to buy something I'm selling. Maybe not right from the get-go, but if I nurture them over time, they would. And also, I want to make sure that I get to speak on a topic that really fuels me and gets me excited, whether it be around mindset of business and being an entrepreneur and stepping into who you are and owning that, like a topic around that, which I talk about a lot on the podcas,t or its list building, course creation, webinars, building a business kind of stuff. But if it's way outside of my wheelhouse and they want me to become something kind of random, I'm going to say no. So those are some boundaries I have as well. So as you can see, there are many different areas of your business that you might need to set boundaries around. I might have not even mentioned any that you're thinking right now or it might be around the clients you work with, how long you work with them, the action items you actually agree to doing, speaking onstage, all of that kind of stuff.
I want to talk to you a little bit about one of my students. Her name is Alisha Grogan, and she’s a licensed pediatric occupational therapist. She gives parents real solutions to their child’s feeding and sensory issues. And she has a really wonderful approach to boundaries. So we asked her about her boundaries and when she knows she’s kind of off kilter, like when something’s off. And she says, “I know I'm not committing to the boundaries I've set when I feel anxiety.” So she just knows—she feels it in her body, or she has this emotional sense of, this is making me feel anxious. And so right away, when she feels anxiety, she knows that she is saying yes to things that are outside of the boundaries that she's set.
And I think this is probably common for a lot of us. But I wanted you to pay attention to, how do you know when you are outside of your boundaries? For me, it's feeling resentful. So if I have to do something—notice the word “have to”—I sit down, I have to make a call, or I have to go travel somewhere versus “I get to” or “I want to.” When I start using the language “I have to” and start feeling resentful or frustrated by it, I’m like, “Oh, this is only my fault. I stepped outside of my boundaries. I said yes to something I don’t want to do, or I said yes to something that’s taking me away from something I want to do. And so this is a sign that I am not within my boundaries.”
So back to Alisha, for her, it's that feeling of anxiousness. So I love her approach. This is what she does. She says, “When I'm tempted to work more—” let's be honest, as entrepreneurs, we can always work more, right? So she says, when I'm tempted to work more, she does what she calls a priority check. She literally writes out her top-three priorities, and they're always the same for her: spirituality is number one, her hubby and her kids are number two, and number three is her work, in that order. So it could be totally different for you, but it's spirituality, family, and then work, for her. And so if she wants to work more, she'll ask this really important question: If I'm going to work more right now, what will it cost me? Now, in the moment, she might say, “Well, it's going to cost me the fact that I wanted to meditate for twenty minutes before I go to bed tonight, but I know I’m just going to be too tired. Is it worth it to me this time?” She could say yes, but most likely, on most days, she’s going to say, “No. I’ve got this meditation practice. I said I was going to stick with it. I’m not going to work longer. It’s going to screw me up tonight.” So asking that question, If I say yes to this—if I work more, in her case—what will it cost me? I think asking really good questions like that is important. And Alisha says that this helps her to put things into perspective quickly, and it helps her to drop any guilt or anxiety that might be creeping in.
So here's your action item, and if you want—this is one of those episodes, if you want to just pause me right now, and I want you to write down your top-three priorities. So what are your top-three priorities? I bet you already know them, like boom, boom, boom. Again, hers are spirituality, family, business, in that order. Write the top three that just what does your gut tell you in that order? And then, I want you to start thinking about areas of your life where you know you need to set boundaries.
So we're just going to do a quick little brainstorming session. Sure, you could do it after this episode, but I really hope you do it. This could take ten minutes. One, you write down your top-three priorities, like the big areas of your life that are most important. Write them down in the order of their importance. And then, start to scribbling down, like, “Ooh, I need some boundaries around my workout schedule,” or “I need some boundaries around planning meals because I'm just not planning my food out,” or whatever it might be. So write it down.
I love Alicia's playbook here. I like how she lists her priorities, and I love that question she asks: If I say yes to this, what will it cost me? Sometimes you're like, “Ah, that's worth the cost.” Most of the time, you're going to be like, “Hell no. I got to stick with my priorities. I'm not going to do this. I'm going to stick to the plan.”
Okay, so now I want to talk about how to actually set your boundaries. Before we jump in, I want to tell you something that Oprah told me. Okay, she didn't tell me, but I heard her say this, so just stay with me. She said—you're going to love this—she said, “You have to be able to set boundaries. Otherwise, the rest of the world is telling you who you are and what you should be doing. You can still be a nice person and set boundaries.” Okay, let me just read that one more time. From Oprah, “You have to be able to set boundaries. Otherwise, the rest of the world is telling you who you are and what you should be doing. You can still be a nice person and set boundaries.” Come on, Oprah. You did it again. The girl’s on fire, right? She’s so right, though. And I mean, I totally agree with her: the world's going to tell you who you are and what you should be doing if you let everybody else kind of just dictate what you're doing. However, the part I really want to bring out here is, “You can still be a nice person and set boundaries.” You all know that I'm a people pleaser, right? I mean, I'd like to say I'm a recovering one, but I still see it show up here and there. And I think it's so powerful to remember that it could be uncomfortable at times to set boundaries.
Like just the other day, someone emailed me, and they said, “Amy, it was so great seeing you at such and such event. I loved catching up. I'd love to get on a twenty-minute call with you and continue to talk about what we were discussing, x,y,z.” I’m not going to get into details; it’s not important. But they basically wanted to continue the conversation. So they had seen me, I had talked to them, they referenced what we had talked about, and I'd love to get on a twenty-minute call with you. I have a brand new assistant, and so Christine, saying, “Oh, well, Amy, talked to this person, and obviously she's in communication with them. Let me get that twenty-minute call in the book.” So she's like, “Hey, does this time work for you?” She talked to the person, and she got on the books. And what's so important when you're working with a new assistant is to have these conversations about kind of what's not going to work for you. And so in Christine's defense, she didn't know any better. But what was important to me is I said, “Hey, Christine. Here's the deal. Some people are going to ask me to meet with me, and they're going to act as though we had a great conversation, we're really good friends, and this conversation needs to continue. Or they're going to act as though the meeting we need to have is really important. But that is their agenda, not mine. So before you go back to anybody and say, ‘Yeah, let's get that locked in,’ will you ask me if I want to actually meet with them?”
Now, here's why I'm bringing this up. What's uncomfortable for me is that, I'm like, the story in my head is, “Well, I'm such a diva. I don’t have time for a twenty-minute call with a friend that I got to see at the event and we were catching up? Like, who am I?” But at the same time, if I don't want to have a further conversation or there's other things that I've committed to that are just going to throw me off, even a twenty-minute call might get in the way. And so, of course, Christine's like, “Yes, of course, I'll make sure that happens.” I love her.
But the point of the story is you don't have to say yes to what everybody is asking you to do. You don't have to take the call, go to the lunch to let someone pick your brain—you know how I feel about that—show up at this meeting or that meeting. You don't have to do any of it. One of my most favorite things about being an entrepreneur is that you call the shots. And I think sometimes we have to—don't worry if it's uncomfortable. Uncomfortable’s not going to kill you, and don't put stories in your head that it means this about you or that about you. You're too much. You're a diva. You think you're all that because you're going to say no to something that other people would jump at the opportunity and say yes to. That's another thing. Sometimes I say no to stuff and think, “God, if people knew I was saying no to this. they'd be like, ‘You're crazy. Of course, speak on that stage with 10,000 people,’ or ‘Of course, take that meeting with so-and-so. They're a big deal.’” But at the same time, I know what my priorities are, and at this moment, that doesn't fit into it.
Yes, you can always make exceptions. But remember, ask yourself, like Alisha, my student, did, when you make an exception, what are you actually putting on the backburner? What are you saying no to when you say yes to this? Okay, so my question to you is, would you rather let others decide who you are and what you're going to do with your time and energy, or would you rather just get uncomfortable and say no to the things that you truly know are not part of your priority? I'm guessing you're saying no, right?
Okay, so now that we have that established, let's talk about the areas of boundaries that you wrote down or you've been thinking throughout this episode, and let's get hyper clear on what they actually look like. So this episode is not to have a blurry version of your priorities and what boundaries look like. I'm here to help you zero in on these. And I want you to use my examples to help stir up some creativity for you, but I want you to make your own.
One person who really inspires me when it comes to boundaries, especially professional boundaries, is Michael Hyatt, who I talked about earlier with the Full Focus Planner. He says, “Solid boundaries serve as guardrails to our productivity.” And both you and I know that as an entrepreneur, we are always striving for not only productivity, but also efficiency. You're with me, right?
So take a look at what other people you admire are doing. Notice how they are setting up their boundaries, and use their approach to boundary setting in your own life, whether you like mine, then use my approach. I mean, shoot, I'm stealing it from Michael Hyatt. So you ultimately probably like his. But I like this idea of an ideal week. I like the idea of what Alisha is doing and choosing her priorities and then setting the boundaries to reflect those priorities.
So there's a lot you can kind of take from this episode and make your own. All in all, you have to get very clear on your boundaries because the next step is to start practicing them.
So before we go any further, if you want to just take a moment here and look at what you've previously written down or thought about. So you've got those areas, the three priorities, that are most important to you, and then I had you think about, or at least jot down, some areas where you're like, “Ooh, I'm going to need a few boundaries around those.” So once you start thinking about the areas where you're going to need a few boundaries around, now I want you to decide, what do the boundaries look like? What is going to happen here?
So if you're saying, “Amy, I need some boundaries around sleep. I'm sleeping four hours a night, and I'm tired every day,” so, obviously, one of the boundaries you will set, if you get specific is, “I’m going to sleep—“ let’s just make this up—“I’m going to sleep eight hours a night.” Now, for someone who’s maybe sleeping four hours a night, that’s a huge jump. So if you’re like me and you like baby steps, maybe we take that back and say six hours. So then, from there, you say, “Okay, I need to go to bed at ten o’clock every night, and I'm going to wake up at such–and–such time,” depending on how many hours you want to get. But I think a specific boundary is, what time do you go to bed, and what time do you wake up?
I'm very, very clear about that with myself. I know that I'm getting eight hours of sleep, and I know that I want to go to bed by a certain time and wake up by a certain time. And I have to set my alarm. I was talking to a friend the other day that wakes up at five every morning, and I said, “You're setting an alarm, right?” She’s like, “No. My internal clock just does it.” I was jealous. I thought, “I wish my internal clock did that.” It doesn't. But as long as I'm getting eight hours, I know I feel good, even though maybe I could sleep ten. I don't know. I probably could. So anyway, get really specific about what the boundary looks like to you.
And if you are pausing this episode and you’re taking notes, and if you did that maybe earlier in the episode, I hope you’re starting to feel a little bit better, maybe a little bit lighter, about this idea of boundaries. It’s not meant to overwhelm. I’m giving you a lot right now, but I’m also giving you just a lot of examples, things to explore, ultimately just to make it really easy for you. Where are your areas of priority? Where are the areas that you know you need boundaries, and what are the boundaries you're going to set? That’s what we’re doing here.
And I know that it's easier to set a boundary than stick to it, and so committing to your boundaries is going to be important. That's why I'd love to see you only set, like, three or four in the beginning, and just make sure you get those dialed in before you have a list of ten. Let's not get crazy here, because we're not going to stick to tons of them if we're not even sticking to one right now, right? You know my motto of baby steps.
One thing you can do is actually share your boundaries with others, and I mean actually speaking them out into the world. So I do that a lot on this podcast, where I’ll tell you exactly what I’m going to do. And when I don’t do it, I think, “I told all my podcast listeners that I was doing this. I put my word out there, and I don’t like to be a hypocrite.” So whether that means you jump into the Online Marketing Made Easy podcast community on Facebook, and just say, “Okay, here are the priorities,” make it known. Or maybe you've got a best friend that you tell, your husband, your wife, I don't care who you tell, but I think telling someone is really important. So let's just think about how you want to put it out into the world.
And also, don't be afraid to practice saying no to the things that don't align with your boundaries. I love the saying from Warren Buffett. He says, “The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.” Come on. That is so good. And I know it to be true. When I think about my really successful friends, people that are making way more money than me, making a bigger impact, they're doing huge things, they get on that no train all the time. So I know there is truth in that. I've seen it done personally from those around me.
So this brings me to the last area of creating strong boundaries in your life, and that is to respect other people's boundaries. When you respect other people's boundaries, you show them how to respect yours. And this is essentially true in all areas of your life. So I want you to think about the last time you asked somebody to do something for you, or you work with someone or even just in your personal life. Can you think of a time that maybe you didn't respect their boundaries? And if you can’t think of anything right now, pay close attention to this, when you’re kind of pushing your loved one to do something that they actually said no to, and you’re kind of nudging them because you really want them to do it. Or you know somebody is focused on a priority and getting it done, and you kind of throw a wrench in the mix. Every time you do that, you are disrespecting somebody else's boundaries. And so when they disrespect yours, just remember, karma’s alive and well. So I really do think that the more we can honor other people's boundaries, they will honor ours as well. Just something to think about, just a little something to put out there, because I see it happen a lot where we're not respecting other people's boundaries, so why would we ever expect them to respect ours? So the point here is make it a priority to lead by example.
All right. Let's wrap this baby up, because this topic was so important. Setting boundaries, we've got to talk about it. Is it the most fun topic? Is it the easiest topic? No, it's not. But holy heck, it can sure boost your productivity, efficiency, and, I think, most importantly, your happiness.
So just a quick refresher. I want you to get really clear on those top-three priorities, those areas that mean the most to you in the order of their importance. Next, I want you to get clear on the areas where you know you need to set boundaries. Where do you feel weak? What feels like it's been sliding for a while now? What are you craving that you're not doing? And then from there, get specific about what the boundary looks like, and get committed to it. Don’t go crazy and set ten now and say, “I'm going to do all of them every single day,” because you know that will never happen. But set a few; tell your friends, your loved ones what these boundaries are; and then be committed to getting uncomfortable. Get uncomfortable with saying no even though you want to be nice and say yes. Get uncomfortable with having some hard conversations about what's working for you and not working for you. And get uncomfortable in the sense that you might have some FOMO—fear of missing out. FOMO is alive and well with boundaries.
Just recently, I said no to a ski trip with some of my really good friends, and I'm super bummed about it. But it actually would have come before my commitment to my family, which is one of my top priorities. And so I chose family over this fun business/good-time ski trip that I really want to go on. But I had to get clear on my priorities. Was it uncomfortable? Was I bummed? Yeah. Am I going to have serious FOMO? I am. At the end of the day, though, what matters most to me? What matters most? And now that I have my list of priorities and the top three, I'm really clear about that. So we've got to do the work. And I really do believe, if you're like me and kind of all roads tend to lead back to business—of course, our family and our health is incredibly important to us—but how does this work inside my business, you're going to be more inspired, more creative, you're going to love the work you're doing, and you're not going to be resentful about the things you said yes to but you really wanted to say no to them. That’s how it works its way into business as well.
I also want you to be aware that as you change, as your life changes, as your family changes, as your business changes, your boundaries need to change. So I say revisit these. Set them now. Really spend the time, guys. Do the work right now. It could even just take thirty minutes max. Set them now, and then make a commitment in six months to come back to these. What do you need to change? You're always going to want to tweak some boundaries within six months, for sure. So give yourself a little room to do so.
So if you're listening to this podcast, when we just went live, we're getting into the new year, so this is a perfect time to set those boundaries. But really, I don't care when you're listening to them, get those boundaries set, and check them in six months.
All right, next week I'll see you here, same time, same place. Bye for now.