8 Tips for Setting Boundaries

Are you blaming someone else or something else for getting in the way of your success? Maybe the problem is that you haven’t set boundaries. I know because I’ve had to do it recently. In order to accomplish my BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals), I have had to limit my work with individual clients and schedule them only two days of the week. This means saying “no” to a lot of people. It’s hard. It’s work. It’s money out of my pocket. But it’s absolutely necessary if I want to move forward.

Here are my tips for setting boundaries and saying “no”:

  1. Know what your goals are and how you’re going to reach them. Post them and talk about them often. You have to keep them in the fore if you are serious about making them a priority.
  2. Decide what you must eliminate from your schedule. For me, this meant some of my socializing, individual client jobs, forwarded email and jokes, and television.
  3. Decide what you must keep on your schedule. For you, it might be a weekly gallery visit, Internet chat with other artists, or a weekly live model session. Add several hours devoted to art marketing, too! I won’t neglect exercise, my relationship with my husband, or sleep. (I wish I could work on 4 or 5 hours sleep, but I’m absolutely worthless on those days!) See my schedule.
  4. Tell everyone your goals–especially those close to you. When you say, “I’m sorry I can’t,” they will better understand why. For instance, I’ve recently posted a policy for responding to questions from individual artists that come to me. This leads me to . . .
  5. Develop a standard rejection line. “I won’t be able to do that with you because I need to focus on my deadline for finishing this painting [getting this mailing out, setting up my art marketing database, writing the article]” should do it.
  6. Always keep the “What If . . . ” question in mind. When I started writing my book proposal, my coach asked me, “What if you go into a bookstore and see your book on the shelf–only it’s been written by someone else?” This thought terrifies me enough to stay on task!
  7. Believe in your goals and in your priorities. Believe in the “no” response. Others can tell if you’re waffling and will try to talk you into something. Staying firm is the only way to avoid this.
  8. If all else fails, hang a sign on your door that keeps people from interrupting you.

Far from getting angry with you, your true friends–those who want you to succeed–will admire your focus and professionalism. Only the truly jealous won’t understand.

What’s your “What If” question that will help you set your boundaries?

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