The Coach's Corner

When boundaries are essential

The Coach’s Corner Newsletter #58

Wherever I turn, I am learning. And the learning isn’t something I’m always looking for or truly want.

In the process of selling our home, an inspector requested a certification for the existing furnace and air conditioner. No problem, I thought, as I invited a few HVAC folks to come and ‘do this’ for us.

Upon inquiring about the age of our units, we immediately learned that our 21-year old furnace and AC could no longer get that kind of certification. If we were not planning to move, no big deal, we could use them until they stopped functioning. However, because we are moving the option to certify is non-existent. Our only option? Replace them.

The boundary every single HVAC company held was consistent. It wasn’t personal, rather very clear and focused on safety and current standards.

Now that we are on the other side of this dilemma, with a fully functioning and certified HVAC system, I am considering how this plays out in so many places.

There are moments when the possibility of evading an issue or looking at something from another perspective has been exhausted. While I’m always looking for that third option, sometimes I have to establish a boundary that does not move. How do you arrive at that place where you stand by a decision?


When boundaries are essential

Jill has been working for years in her org, growing in her role/responsibilities and being promoted several times to a senior level position.

In recent weeks she’s been wrestling with how to better communicate the balance she wants to members of her leadership group, with limited success.

I thought I’d established the limits of how long my day would run since I deal with folks around the world. But recently, I’m noticing that I’m getting pinged nearly 24/7 – with no regard for my wellbeing.

When I wondered how she established her working/available hours with her team, she was silent.

I can’t do that – they work in different time zones and I have to be there for them.

How might they know this is a hardship for you?

Another long pause.

You know, I seriously never considered giving them any boundaries around my time.

Jill recognized that her desire to be the go-to person in several large accounts was clouding her judgment of how frequently she needed to respond/communicate/resolve issues.

What’s coming up for you as you realize this is up to you?

I know it won’t be easy to shift everything at once, AND I am the one who has to launch that coordination effort. Being clear about my hours helps me immensely – and I’m willing to make adjustments, but not be on the clock throughout the entire day and night.

Her takeaway strengthened the more she reflected on what it is that she wants. Jill decided to share her schedule, be more intentional about every single meeting which in turn left her space for urgent calls.

Now Jill is paying attention to her wellbeing, instead of demanding others do that for her.



How to be clear about what you want

The pivot that Jill made released her from pointing the finger at her leadership and colleagues – and focusing on what she wants to accomplish so that she can have the work/life balance she desires.

Being clear about what you want demands you identify what is important to you – and then decide how to go after it. In other words, defining what works best for you.

My takeaway

If you’re like me and enjoy resolving sticky situations with folks using an approach that considers a third option, versus either/or, it can be challenging to create a firm boundary and stand by that decision.

Yet, there are times where a boundary is the best way to lean into what you know is essential for your wellbeing and a solid course of action.

I have so appreciated the clearcut direction I’ve received through this process of selling and buying a home. Many of the experts we’ve worked with know their field so well, there is no discussion. Their ‘yes’ or ‘no’ yielded results without hours/days of hand-wringing.

Observing how they established boundaries encouraged me to examine where such clear lines are important in my life. And it allows me to support my clients who struggle with the same dilemmas.

He that always gives way to others will end in having no principles of his own.


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