Do you find yourself struggling with boundaries?
“Boundaries” is such a buzzword right now across both parenthood + entrepreneurship + for good reason. So many people have found that boundaries are essential to owning your own time + energy + sanity — us included.
Living life with smart, strategic, sustainable boundaries has made our family entrepreneurship experience so much sweeter. At home + in work, we take more aligned action, focus better, have clearer communication, the list goes on…
So today, we’re expanding on how setting boundaries can be one of the most loving acts you can perform as a family leader.
What Exactly are Boundaries?
Let’s center with a definition of boundaries:
Boundaries are the limits you set for yourself + your dependents to distinguish what you’re willing to participate in from what others may want you to be or do.
When you have a lack of boundaries, you’re allowing life to happen to you without you deciding how you want to be experiencing life.
Having no set boundaries is ineffective because you’re not living from a place of personal empowered choice.
On the other hand, when you set boundaries, you’re deciding how you want to move through life + honoring those needs.
Having set boundaries is effective because you are living from a place of empowered choice.
Our Introduction to the Concept of Boundary-Setting
Setting boundaries has become part of our personal brand because we are so well-versed in boundary-building + we’ve become so incredible at maintaining the boundaries we set.
The only reason we are so well-versed in boundary-building, though, is because we both were absolutely terrible at having any boundaries at all our entire lives.
The road to successful parenthood, entrepreneurship, health + wealth has not been without some epic stories of grief, hardship, loss, struggle, frustration + toxic relationships with people, money + the soul-crushing lie that you have to work hard in order to be worthy of getting all that you want out of life.
There have been many times when we let our quintessential worker-bee tendencies completely override moments of joy, rest + fun.
There have been up-past-midnight emails, work-on-weekends overhauls + sharing our personal phone numbers (+ then answering calls) to people who should never have had access to the best of us while the people we loved got the rest of us.
And that was only the work side of our lives.
We had a gorgeous wedding that was an absolute gongshow behind-the-scenes because of our lack of boundaries in family dynamics that desperately needed them.
The list could go on…
But had we known about boundaries — the fact that you could even assess how you wanted to be treated + then command that respect by respecting yourself first — all of this hardwon success wouldn’t have caused so much hardship.
We didn’t even know boundaries were a thing until adulthood!
Boundaries can feel hard to accept as an option when you’re raised in a more traditional household where parents make the majority of decisions for you.
Suddenly, in adulthood, you’re allowed to choose what you want (or maybe more importantly what you don’t want) but you might not feel like you are allowed.
Choosing for ourselves was like breaking the rules if we decided that we didn’t want to meet an expectation outside of us.
But we’re here to say:
“Not only are they allowed, but boundaries can be one of the most effective, loving ways you can lead your family.”
You’re allowed to express your wants + needs be it at work, at home, at your parents’ house, at school, your kids’ school or on the internet — anywhere + everywhere.
Somewhere along the way in adulthood — in the fullness of the experience — we tend to forget our most basic rights.
Boundaries are an important part of a great life experience.
Setting + Communicating Boundaries
You’re allowed to have great communication + exchange with people you interact with.
Boundaries say “I will not work harder on your problems than my own”.
One of the top-most challenges to long-term partnerships (like marriages) is the couple’s shared relationship to extended family + the boundaries (or lack thereof) in them.
Dave Ramsey says “every family has crazy in it. If you don’t think your family has crazy in it, it’s you.” 😂
We agree! If you don’t have boundaries right now, there will absolutely come a time when boundaries are forced upon you by urgent necessity.
Boundaries say “I’m not keeping you out; I’m keeping me in.”
Boundaries are about you — to put parameters on yourself. Tell yourself: “I am going to protect my allotment of energy during the day so I am the best version of myself at all times.”
Frame any conversation with yourself or others in that mindset. Having boundaries is not a limitation on you or an indictment on beliefs or actions of others. Boundaries are in place for you to be the best version of yourself.
Here’s an example from our personal life:
We mentioned earlier that we first got a crash-course in boundary-building as a couple during our engagement year + wedding. Our wedding was a boundary-crossing gongshow + as much of an emotional hardknock education as that was, we are so grateful for that because shortly thereafter — with boundaries now in place — we went through a very dark time as a young family.
We had just had our newborn baby, had the most beautiful + empowering home birth, everyone was so healthy + happy… until we weren’t.
Kev’s childhood trauma unlocked. He had lost 2 brothers — Timmy in a bicycle accident at age 7, Bryan just days old after birth — + he was sexually abused by a close family member for 5 years after that.
What followed was a LOT of healing + deep inner work. Boundaries were less about choice now — they were about survival.
When you’re in survival mode — processing some really deep shit personally, trying to bring your partner into the fold so you have support, trying to find some professional support, in the sleep deprivation of a newborn + new businesses + now a cross-country move that we made — you need to stay in your own “selfish” bubble because you can’t possibly see any further beyond yourself. We were treading water while in our survival mode.
And you know what? Being okay with boundaries keeping us IN + that being the only reason for the boundaries in that moment (saying no to what wasn’t serving us, being restrictive in who came around our daughter, not sharing many details in conversations, etc.) — that was exactly the glue that held us together + made us come out so much stronger on the other side.
The trauma doesn’t ever go away. We rely on boundaries as part of our everyday living + we’ve found that working with + through the trauma gets easier + easier.
But we’ve been doing this big work for YEARS now + boundaries have been CRITICAL to our family unit’s surviving + then THRIVING. And it’s what has allowed our love to grow in a safe + healthy container as husband + wife.
Boundaries filter opportunities through questions like “is this getting me to my goal in the most direct way?”
An easy + effective way to establish boundaries is creating decision questions.
For us, we filter everything through health, family + business:
- Is this opportunity good for our mental/physical/emotional health?
- Does this opportunity bring happiness + joy to our family?
- Will this drive us to our overall CEO goals?
The answer to the questions creates the boundary. Start by asking the simple question: is this opportunity bringing me closer or further from my goal?
If the opportunity in question brings the goal closer, do it. If not, there’s a good chance you might want to say NO or set a boundary.
Boundaries ask “Who owns this problem or project?” before assigning the responsibility to me by default.
We love this idea because this ties into running the business of family so well.
When you’re assigning responsibility in business, the strong rule of thumb is to assign a single project owner. This is the lead person in-charge of moving the project forward + achieving the desired outcome. For example, naming the foreman who is responsible for leading a construction project.
When we set boundaries, we’re asking to name the project owner. Whose problem or project is this?
When you’re feeling pressed for your time or energy or money or talent, then ask yourself: “Is this really mine to own?” You’ll lighten your load immensely.
And if you’re wondering “where do I even begin in setting boundaries now that I’m feeling like I need some?”
Start with this: what interactions do you feel the most uncomfortable with?
Answering those two questions is probably the perfect way to start!
The Boundless Benefits of Boundaries
When we’re setting boundaries, we’re inviting structure that others can ultimately depend on because we’re showing up as dependable for ourselves first.
With boundaries, we create the space to do the big inner work that’s required in this crash course in personal development we call entrepreneurship + parenthood.
We demonstrate self-respect + teach our children how to command that themselves by setting boundaries.
With boundaries, we get to live a life aligned with our values ahead of someone else’s. Doing this creates even more space + opportunity to turn around + create massive impact at scale in the world.
And that makes setting boundaries absolutely one of the most loving things to do.
Now, we’d love to hear from you: what has your experience been with setting healthy boundaries for yourself?
If you don’t know where to start, consider trying this simple exercise: ask where you feel the most uncomfortable in your day-to-day interactions, then choose 1 small way you could create a healthy boundary.
For example, I feel the most uncomfortable when my client texts me at 11 PM on weekend nights + expects an answer immediately → I’m going to let them know I’m establishing weekday office hours to give thoughtful responses back at a predictable time.
Did this post help you? Share a boundary success story in the comments below to inspire other parent entrepreneurs to take action, too.