When you’re just getting started in business (or transitioning from one level to the next) it’s important to set strong boundaries with your time and energy so you can function at your best.
As a dietitian, you’re likely someone who wants to genuinely be of service in the highest way to your clients. But you can’t do that to your fullest potential if you’re burned out, busted, and disgusted. This will inevitably happen when you don’t set strong boundaries.
Today, I want to discuss the importance of setting and upholding boundaries in your business and how doing so can positively affect not only your client relationships but all relationships in your life (and this is a good thing, my friend).
What are boundaries?
Table of Contents
- 1 What are boundaries?
- 2 But…aren’t boundaries mean & restrictive?
- 3 The Cost of NOT Setting Strong Boundaries
- 4 3 Ways to Set Strong Boundaries in Your Business
- 5 Creating Personal Boundaries to Support Your Business
- 6 Key Takeaways: Set Strong Boundaries
We oftentimes think of boundaries as being this bad, rigid, metaphorical wall that we put up against others to keep them in check. Of course, this is furthest from the truth.
I like to think of boundaries as a safeguard. It’s a preventative measure for burnout.
If you need a more technical definition, Positive Psychology defines boundaries as a limit or space between you and others. Dictionary.com defines a boundary as something that indicates bounds or limits.
You get to decide how you choose to think of boundaries in your life and business. But let’s remember to keep the main thing the main thing.
And guess what that MAIN thing is? Self-care and self-preservation.
You can’t be your best for others when your boundaries are loose or non-existent. If you want healthy client relationships, then setting strong boundaries is a must.
But…aren’t boundaries mean & restrictive?
No. And as a business owner who’s also a health professional, it’s important that you understand the consequences of NOT setting strong boundaries in your business.
Setting business boundaries allows you as the business owner to clearly communicate client expectations. This is actually helpful to your clients because it eliminates any confusion about you, your services, and the policies and procedures in your business.
It allows you to work with your clients and service them at the highest potential. This in turn helps them achieve the results they ultimately came for.
So remember, your business boundaries aren’t mean or restrictive. They are helpful and supportive of the client and his/her outcomes.
One of my favorite resources on this topic is the book Set Boundaries, Find Peace: A Guide to Reclaiming Yourself by Nedra Glover Tawab. While this is not a book on setting strong boundaries in business, it is helpful in learning how to have boundaries in life.
How you do things in your personal life is a direct reflection of how you show up in your business. So think about your relationships now…are the boundaries strong or are they pretty loose or non-existent?
The answer will be very telling about what needs to happen going forward.
You started your business for a reason, and I’m sure one of the reasons wasn’t to be stressed out, overwhelmed, or disrespected by clients.
Having your business boundaries in place allows you to maintain a lifestyle that you desire while achieving your unique version of work-life balance.
So the next time your brain tries to tell you that boundaries are mean and restrictive, remind it that it’s not. Boundaries are healthy for you and your clients.
The Cost of NOT Setting Strong Boundaries
Now that you understand why boundaries are important, let’s talk about the cost of ignoring them. Because there is a cost associated with not putting them in place.
As a high-achieving dietitian, you’re probably used to doing all of the things and doing them well. Very well.
So well that you overachieve. You think that you must be all things to everyone in your life and your business.
The perfect dietitian who gets clients the best results, every single time.
The mom who doesn’t ruffle their kid’s feathers and makes sure they’re well-rounded, perfectly functioning humans in society.
The wife who has food on the table every night, the house cleaned every day, and lays waiting…well you get where I’m going with this, right?
There’s a price to pay for this mindset.
You’re not a robot.
You’re a human with flaws, feelings, and (quite frankly) hormonal fluctuations.
You will make mistakes sometimes.
You won’t get it right ALL of the time.
And the beauty in this truth is that you get better and better with time. With each mistake that’s made, you learn and grow and do better.
Boundaries help to reduce miscommunication and client upsets. They lessen the need for those “uncomfortable” conversations.
Boundaries help you navigate your life and career journey much more smoothly. Without them, your mental and emotional health are at risk and that’s a high and unnecessary cost to pay.
3 Ways to Set Strong Boundaries in Your Business
Don’t let the word “Strong” keep you from taking action on this important tenet in your business. Strong can mean “healthy”, right? Boundaries are for the health and life of your business. So let’s get you set up for success at the start.
Step 1: Create a Realistic & Doable Schedule
Creating a realistic schedule, one that you can feel good about and follow daily, is very important for you and your clients. So decide what’s doable for you. Here are some things to take into consideration:
Are you still working a full-time job?
Do you want to work on weekends or evenings?
What are all of your current obligations? Can some things be delegated to others in order to free up more of your time?
If you’re still working full-time, you definitely need to schedule your business time. That includes the time you’ll work with clients and time you’ll work on business-related tasks, like marketing, creating content, etc.
The beauty in this is that you already know what hours are available to you based on your work schedule. Everything you’ll want to do in your business will revolve around that for now until you transition into your business full-time.
If you’re already in your business full-time, congratulations! You have a blank canvas of time to work with. But hold up, buttercup…this doesn’t mean it’s easy. It’s oftentimes the hardest canvas to work from.
So here’s what I suggest:
- Create “Client Only” days
- Create 8 hours of time a week for “Business Growth Activities”
- Choose one day (or a half day) where you spend time wrapping up loose ends an other things from the week that didn’t get done.
Step 2: Create Clear Systems & Processes
Remember, you’re a business owner now and businesses run on systems and processes.
These systems and processes are a form of boundaries.
It doesn’t matter if you’re just starting out or you’ve been in business for a while, you’ll need systems and processes in place to get things done more efficiently.
So here are a few things to consider…
What is your new client onboarding process?
What payment processing system are you using?
How will you keep in touch with clients between sessions?
These are just a few things to consider. You’ll also want to create clear policies and procedures for your business and have a streamlined way of communicating them before a client starts working with you.
Step 3: Schedule Time Off Ahead of Time
Your time off is important and I encourage you to schedule it ahead of time.
Write down any planned vacations for the year and block that time off in your calendar.
What’s your self-care routine?
If you have a routine for exercise, meditation, prayer, or anything else that keeps you centered and grounded every day, schedule that in your calendar.
I also recommend incorporating regularly-scheduled time off, if possible. For example, I don’t see clients or do work-related activities during the 4th week of every month. It’s taken me some time to get to this place in my business, but it’s also totally possible for you right now.
Maybe it isn’t an entire week off. But instead, it’s a day of the week or commitment to not work on evenings or weekends.
You get to decide and then make a commitment to stick to it.
Creating Personal Boundaries to Support Your Business
As I mentioned previously, you’ll need boundaries in your personal life to help you show up professionally in your business. I believe how you do one thing is how you do most things, so if your boundaries are loose or non-existent in your personal life…
…they’ll be loose and non-existent in your business.
Creating strong boundaries in your personal life will start with changing your beliefs about boundaries from the start.
Here are 3 new beliefs you can work on when it comes to personal boundaries:
Belief #1: “I have strong boundaries as a compassionate & loving person.”
Remind yourself that boundaries are healthy and a form of self-preservation. They help form and maintain healthy, strong relationships in all areas of your life
Practicing this belief, and you put boundaries in place, you’ll start to experience the truth of it in your life and your business, too.
Belief #2: “My life is a reflection of the benefits of healthy boundaries.”
Your inner circle of family and friends needs a healthy model for self-care and self-preservation.
And you can be that for them.
As you practice this new belief and incorporate it into your life, watch how others around you respond. While some may be in shock & awe, most will have reverence and respect for you and want to model this way of living for themselves.
You’ll change lives within your inner circle and it will eventually expand into your work with clients.
Belief #3: “I protect my energy by having strong boundaries in place.”
You can’t pour from an empty cup.
Your energy is important for you and everyone around you. As you practice this new belief, feel how it changes you from the inside out.
Key Takeaways: Set Strong Boundaries
Your success in business starts with you.
Setting strong boundaries in your personal and professional life will benefit you in many ways and has the potential to not only change you, but everyone who comes in contact with you as well.
Your mindset plays a key role in how you view boundaries and how well you uphold them on a regular basis.
If you know that this is an area of growth opportunity for you, I encourage you to take small incremental steps to put boundaries in place. Your life and business will thank you for it.