“Your boundaries are a reflection of how willing you are to advocate for the life that you want.” – Nedra Glover Tawwab
First things first, if you don’t already follow @nedratawwab, do so right now.
Second, I’m a HUGE fan of boundaries but completely get that they’re hard to draw. I’ve struggled to draw them often. It feels confrontational, and this Minnesotan struggles with that sometimes (the fact I was a litigator still cracks me up sometimes).
Despite the struggle, I KNOW boundary drawing and enforcing is worth it.
Boundaries work – even when they don’t. Here’s what I mean:
I’ve drawn boundaries and had them respected – at work and at home.
I’ve also drawn them and, despite trying to enforce them many times, had them ignored. But even then, when the boundary drawing didn’t “work,” it did – it showed me when it was time to go.
At my last law firm, the workload became objectively unsustainable. I laid out my boundaries. One time, I expressly declined a new case only to be forced to take it – billing 10 hours each day on a weekend after a week of staying up to 12/3/5am to get something else done. As I said, not sustainable. Definitely not enjoyable.
The tricky part here was that the firm was understaffed, everyone was busy, and the people were really nice. BUT let’s be clear: The power to hire more people wasn’t in my hands – it was in the firm’s. I was bearing the steep cost for decisions they were making for whatever reason. At the end of the day, it didn’t matter if they were jerks (they weren’t) or good guys (they were) – they were making my life into something I did not enjoy at all, so it was time to go.
My boundary drawing worked because it made me get clear on what I was willing to accept – and it showed me when it wasn’t going to happen.
As I said, boundaries work – even when they “don’t.”
I work with clients a lot on boundary drawing, especially at work and in the home when it comes to the division of labor.
But reading Nedra Tawwab’s book, Setting Boundaries, Find Peace, opened my eyes to how much boundary drawing has a huge impact on so many other parts of our lives. It also contains so much practical advice (and you know how much I love practical strategies).
I highly recommend you check Nedra and her book out!