AMY PORTERFIELD: “This boundary-enforcing business that I'm talking about, it’s going to feel messy at first and maybe, at times, just in general. Just like if you're a baby learning to walk, you fall, like, five million times before you take that first step, right?
“Same with these boundaries. At first, when you start to enforce them, you're going to stumble and fall. Like you might say, ‘Yes, I'll do that, but here's what I need,’ and then you ask for, like, half of what you need; or you're kind of embarrassed to ask for it, so you kind of don't really wholeheartedly do it, and then you're mad again. You're like, ‘No, no, no. I didn't do it right the first time. Let me go back. The next time this happens, I'm going to be stronger.’
“So let me say it's just going to be difficult and awkward in the beginning. But the first step to establishing a healthy boundary is to know what you want in the first place.”
INTRO: I’m Amy Porterfield, ex-corporate girl turned CEO of a multi-seven-figure business. But it wasn't all that long ago that I lacked the confidence, the budget, and the time to focus on growing my small-but-mighty business. Fast forward past many failed attempts and lessons learned, and you'll see the business I have today, one that changes lives and gives me more freedom than I ever thought possible, one that used to only exist as a daydream. I created the Online Marketing Made Easy podcast to give you simple, actionable, step-by-step strategies to help you do the same. If you're an ambitious entrepreneur, or one in the making, who's looking to create a business that makes an impact and a life you love, you're in the right place, friend. Let's get started.
AMY: Well, hey, there, friend. Welcome back to Online Marketing Made Easy. I hope you're having a wonderful day.
So, I want to start by asking you a question today: can you remember a time in your personal or business life when you felt resentful? Some of you are like, “Yeah, yesterday.” But some of you might not be able to think of something. Like, when did you feel resentful, either personal or business?
Now, if you're having trouble thinking of an example, let's back up and dive into what resentment is. My girl, Brené Brown, she says it best. In her book Atlas of the Heart—which I absolutely love, by the way—this is how she defines resentment. “Resentment is the feeling of frustration, judgment, anger, better than, and/or hidden envy related to perceived unfairness or injustice.” I'm going to read it one more time. “Resentment is the feeling of frustration, judgment, anger, better than, and/or hidden envy related to perceived unfairness or injustice.” So I think this might help a little bit. She continues to say, “It's an emotion we experience when we fail to set boundaries or ask for what we need.” I mean, she's so good, right? which leads to our topic for today: setting boundaries.
I started this episode by talking about resentment because it's a huge indicator that you are not setting boundaries. And I know for me it has showed up more than I would like to admit to you. So here's an example where resentment showed up in my life due to not setting a clear boundary, and how I'll use it to guide my behavior in the future.
A few months ago, I was booked to do a Clubhouse chat at 6:30 a.m. Now, I'm a morning girl, but 6:30 typically is reserved for coffee and cuddles with Scout. But it was a great opportunity, so I said yes.
Fast forward to the night before. I opened up the pre-interview document and the Google Doc told me nothing about the topic that we were going to discuss. So I was really confused what it was even going to be about. And it was such an early call time, I couldn't get more information the night before about the topic that I prepared for. So the next morning I woke up thinking, “I'm so mad I said yes to this. I don't want to do this. So instead of having a productive and peaceful morning, my day is going to now feel scrambled, and I feel nervous about not being prepared for something. Why did I say yes to this? And why am I doing it at 6:30 in the morning?”
So I took a deep breath, and I realized ultimately, by not enforcing my boundaries—I don't want to do something that early in the morning—I was responsible for this mishap. Whether I knew what the topic was in advance, whether I got the questions I thought I was going to get in advance or not, I was responsible for making this happen. I said yes to doing something where I should have said no, or “No, thank you on that time. Can we find something else?”
Now, in entrepreneurship, sometimes boundaries can't always be so black and white, right? I don't want to set and enforce a rigid boundary. Like, “I'll never take an interview again before 8 a.m.,” because Oprah, if you're listening, I'll take it any time. But if I break this boundary again, my simple yes will turn it into a “Yes, but only if…,” whatever. Like, what do I need to make this a “Hell, yes?” I can do whatever I want. You can do whatever you want. That's the most beautiful thing about owning our own businesses. But we need to make sure if we're saying yes, it's a “Hell, yes,” and sometimes that means we need to ask for what we need to turn it into a “Hell, yes.” This way, I can avoid my resentment, protect my peace in the morning, and give a killer interview to offer value. All the results I desire all made possible through setting and enforcing my unique boundaries or needs.
So if resentment shows up, I use it as a sign to look in the mirror and ask myself some questions. So I'd like you to answer these questions with me. Can you think of a time you felt resentment? Like, you were mad you said yes to something. Or here's an easy way to figure it out: you're doing something and you're mad you're doing it. You're like, “Why did I say yes to this?” or “Why did my assistant put this on my schedule?” or “Why is my team doing this to me?” or “Why do I have to always do this?” It usually feels a little bit like we're whining, but we just don't want to admit it. So find a time, and then help me answer these questions. Are you ready?
Where did I say yes when I meant or needed to say no? Where can I better, in the future, set a new boundary or enforce an existing one so that this doesn't happen again? Where can I say yes but then also ask for what I need to turn it into a “Hell, yes”?
So it's really just about setting boundaries so that you can do whatever you want, but make sure that you're doing it for the right reasons. Now saying yes becomes fun. And even though it can be challenging at times to set these boundaries, at the end of the day, you go to bed at night feeling as though you spent your day doing the things that you value most. It's the worst feeling, and I've so been there, that my head hits the pillow, and I think, “Everything I did today was for someone else or on someone else's terms because I felt like I should say yes because I didn't want to let someone down.” I know, lots of red flags in this conversation that I'm having in my head, right? But it's true. I've definitely been there, and I do not like going to sleep like that.
So when my head hits the pillow, I want to think, “Everything I did today was intentional. It was for the right reasons, and it felt good.” It might have been a rough day. I might have had to make hard decisions. I might have had to have some awkward conversations. That's just part of doing business. But was I spending my time in the way I wanted to spend my time, moving toward what I wanted to move toward?
And I'm here to remind you, this boundary-enforcing business that I'm talking about, it’s going to feel messy at first and maybe, at times, just in general. Just like if you're a baby learning to walk, you fall, like, five million times before you take that first step, right?
Same with these boundaries. At first, when you start to enforce them, you're going to stumble and fall. Like you might say, “Yes, I'll do that, but here's what I need,” and then you ask for, like, half of what you need; or you're kind of embarrassed to ask for it, so you kind of don't really wholeheartedly do it, and then you're mad again. You're like, “No, no, no. I didn't do it right the first time. Let me go back. The next time this happens, I'm going to be stronger.”
So let me say it's just going to be difficult and awkward in the beginning. But the first step to establishing a healthy boundary is to know what you want in the first place.
And there’s this really great book by my dear friend Terri Cole. It's called Boundary Boss, and it explains why this is so hard for us. So she talks about how your boundary blueprint was set years ago by the people who raised you. Right there, you should be like, ding, ding, ding; maybe that's why this is rough for me, which means most of us have never sat down to actually identify our preferences, our desires, and dealbreakers in our life and in our business. And Terri defines this as the foundation of your boundaries. When was the last time you set the foundations of your boundaries and talked about your preferences, your desires, your dealbreakers? For most of us, never. I didn't until I read her book Boundary Boss. It's essential to know the foundation of your boundaries before you actually set them so that you are very clear on what they are, why they are the way they are, and then you can clearly communicate them.
So essentially, going back to that, it’s like, as we were a kid, our boundaries were set for us. And then many of us, as adults, just go through the world with those boundaries.
I'm going to get a little personal here. I'm glad my dad doesn't listen to my podcast, because sometimes I bring him up and not always the most positive light. But things were rough when I was growing up with my dad. And he lives life in one way, I live it a different way now as adults, and I don’t totally agree with everything he thinks or does, nor does he agree with everything I think or do. So that’s okay. Let’s not get into it.
But what I’m trying to say here is I, in some ways, am living my dad's boundaries, but I don't necessarily agree with everything in terms of how my dad lives. So how's that working for me? No wonder I've struggled with feeling resentful about saying yes to things I mean no to, because I'm literally living somebody else's boundaries. I just think that's very eye opening.
I want to switch gears here and talk about entrepreneurship and boundaries. So I think this is especially true as an entrepreneur. You do have to say the hard yes to things you don't necessarily want to do in order to get the extraordinary business and life that you want. So hear me out here. What I mean when I say hard yes is, yes, it's hard to enforce a boundary. It's also hard to live with resentment and consequences that come from not enforcing a boundary. So you have to choose your hard. And I find this phrase, “choose your hard,” helpful when presented with an opportunity where I need to enforce a boundary. but I have to remind myself that it's a choice.
So I need to give you an example because this feels confusing until I give you an example. So let's say you set a boundary, and you actually said no to a really fun girls’ trip because you were planning for a launch. I've been there, so I'm taking this from very personal experience. It was very close to live launching. This girls’ trip came up, and I was a few years into my business. Now if that happened, I think I could get my team to support me. Back then, I didn't really have a team, so it was, like, me, so I wasn't going on this girls’ trip.
Now, saying no and feeling disappointed that I had to miss the girls’ trip and disappointing my girlfriends that wanted me to go, that was hard. That was really hard. And you know what else is hard? Not going after your goal to create your dream business, not hitting your launch goals, not doing what you said you were going to do. So again, you have to choose your hard. And so for me, it was hard to pass up on the trip. It was hard to let my friends down. It was hard because the FOMO was real. But what was even harder was the thought that I might not be able to do my very best work because I committed to be all in, and I had really big goals, and I was going after it.
And remember this: when you set a boundary and you say no to something, it's often just for a season of your life. I just, at the time that I'm recording this, I just got back from Napa, where I went with Britt Seva and Jasmine Star, two women that I've been friends with for many, many years. We used to be in a mastermind together years and years ago. And I had the most amazing weekend ever. It was so fun, nourishing. We talked about business. We watched—okay, this is very dorky—we drank wine and watched some business videos that we were talking about. We're like, “We just got to watch it real fast.” Here we are in Napa, at our hotel, drinking wine and watching a business video, like, this weird training video we wanted to see. But that wasn’t the whole trip. But it was literally my favorite stuff, like to talk about business and life and love and all of that.
And it wasn't wasted on me that I got to go on this girls’ trip, knowing that there were other girls’ trips in my past that I had to skip because I was on a mission to grow this business and get it to where it is today. Actually, beyond where I even thought it would be today. But there was a season in my life that there were a lot of nos so that I could realize my dreams.
And so remember, it's not like you're saying no to the girls’ trip or whatever long term, forever. Now that you're an entrepreneur, say goodbye to the girls’ trips. Not even close. The girls’ trips are so much sweeter when you don't worry about how you're going to afford it. Or you don't worry that your business is going to fall apart because you're not in it in that very moment.
You're in a season of life, my friend. You don't get to say yes to everything. And sometimes, yes, your business does take priority over some really fun things you want to do, but it will not always be that way. Get clear about what you want. Get clear on your priorities. And know that we are always in a season of life, and things will absolutely change. I felt like someone needed to hear that today, so there you go.
And here's the thing. I think someone that I absolutely love illustrates this perfectly. Her name is Shonda Rhimes. And if you know me, you know I love me some Shonda.
So in her 2014 Dartmouth commencement address, she let the world in on a little secret by answering the question, “Shonda, how do you do it all?” with “The answer is this: I don't.” Okay. Mic-drop moment right there. And she goes on to say, “Whenever you see me somewhere succeeding in one area of my life, that almost certainly means I am failing in another area of my life. If I am killing it on a Scandal script for work, I'm probably missing bath and story time at home. If I'm at home, sewing my kids Halloween costumes, I'm probably blowing off a rewrite I was supposed to turn in. That is the trade off. That is the Faustian bargain one makes with the devil, that comes with being a powerful working woman who is also a powerful mother.”
I think I've probably read this on the podcast before, and I absolutely alluded to it in my book Two Weeks Notice because it's so spot on. You're never going to have it all figured out. It's never going to be 50/50. Work-life balance does not exist. I really believe that. But you choose. You get to choose what you want to do. And sometimes you're going to choose the hard yes. “Yes, I'm going to stay home and work on my launch.” “No, I'm not going to go on that girls’ trip.” But then, you find yourself a few years later, sipping wine in Napa with your best girlfriends, with a multi-million-dollar business, and you think, “I'm glad I decided on those hard yeses to get me to where I am today.” Give yourself some grace and patience. It will happen for you, my friend. It will.
Okay. Since we started this podcast with a question, let's end it with a question. Here it is: what new boundary do you need to establish in order to create a life and a business that lights you up, brings you joy, and fulfills you every day? And actually, I really do want to know. Like, what came up for you in this episode? Did you realize where you were feeling resentful? Can you create a new boundary around it? Can you see where you need to make some hard yeses, or where you have in the past and you're glad you have?
I want to know any of that. So send me a DM. I'm just on Instagram at @amyporterfield. Simple as that. Send me a DM, and let me know one of your new boundaries or something that you're going to make a hard yes around or an area that you realized, “Okay, this is where I'm feeling resentful, and this is what I'm going to change.” I want to cheer you on. So let me know. Go to Instagram. Just find me at @amyporterfield.
Okay, my sweet friend. I hope you love this episode. I love sharing my thoughts and feelings with you around entrepreneurship, and I hope you find it valuable as well.
I can't wait to see you on Thursday for more entrepreneurial goodness, same time, same place. Can't wait.