Oh, so that's why you need boundaries...

The last few months have been a massive learning curve for EVJ Creative, as well as for me personally.

I had a few weeks where I felt like I was drowning. I had work and deadlines coming out of my ears and I was doing everything I could to survive on extremely little sleep, far too much coffee, a few sneaky red bulls, and a resting heart rate so high I felt permanently buzzed and puffed out. For three weeks in a row, I naively believed that if I could juuuust get on top of the next few things, it would all get better. Eventually, it did...but that didn’t happen by accident.

So it sounds all rainbows, lollipops, and cartwheels to be drowning in work in your fourth month of going solo…”too much work? what a great problem to have” I hear you say…well the truth is, I actually felt closer to irritated and embarrassed than excited and proud. Don’t get me wrong, I am absolutely flipping stoked to have people wanting to work with me, and to be building my business, BUT the amount of work I had and the position I found myself in was stressful and exhausting and could really be attributed more to mis-management and a lack of boundaries than success. Last year I knew someone who was extremely passionate about boundaries. At the time, I understood the concept in theory but I couldn’t really see its place in my world yet. Boy, oh boy, do I get it now.

I am a chronic people pleaser - something I am always working on - and this was my undoing throughout July and August. As an independent contractor, people will always ask for exactly what they want from me…and why wouldn’t they? They don’t know how much other work I have, what I have going on personally or socially that week, how much sleep I have or haven’t had, they just tell me what they want as their best case scenario. It’s up to ME (and me alone) to then manage their expectations and deadlines according to my actual capacity. I have had to really try to channel my inner Brené Brown - “choose discomfort over resentment” - every time I respond to a client’s request or commit to a new project; I have to remember to sit in the discomfort of having to potentially say no, or of having to push back and extend deadlines, rather than taking the more comfortable, people-pleasing response of “yes, yes, yes! How high? Off which foot?!” I’ve learnt, time and time again, that taking this seemingly ‘easy’ option, leads to me feeling major resentment down the track, not towards the client or the project (okay, maybe a little…), but mainly towards myself! We’ve all been there…“why’d you say yes to this you bloody fool?!” “who were you kidding, you don’t have time for this!” “oh great, another night of three hours sleep, good one stupid”…not exactly the positive self-talk I like to encourage!

So a couple of weeks ago I pulled on my big girl pants, wrote a few tough emails, made a few tough decisions, and set some ripper boundaries! There are still (plenty) more to come, but I’ve started the journey, and so far, it feels good! I think sometime we all need a little ‘it’s not life or death’ perspective reminder when we’re dealing with our careers. Inside the bubble of our working days it can be very easy to lose perspective and relativity, especially when everyone you work with/for needs their thing NOW, and believes their thing is THE most important, so you naturally just believe it. The truth of the matter is, most things can wait until tomorrow, most businesses will survive without you being available to reply to their emails within the minute/hour/day, and most clients will still want to work with you even if you give them realistic timelines that might be further away than they were hoping!

It’s a bloody bumpy ride, this entrepreneurial roller coaster, but I’m still very glad I jumped on board.

To any of my fellow entrepreneurs out there, a spirited blue fish once said, ‘just keep swimming’ and she was right! I’ve got this, you’ve got this, we’ve all got this!

Em xx

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