I learned the lesson of setting boundaries around generosity the hard way over the past year.
Seth Godin talks about the importance of being generous in the work that we do. Godin also often mentions the connection economy and the ways that successful businesses prioritize building relationships with their customers.
I believe he’s right and, as I’ve come to realize, we can’t talk about being generous without talking about boundaries.
In Boundaries, Empathy, and Compassion, Brené Brown shares that, “The most compassionate people I have interviewed over the last 13 years were also the absolutely most boundaried.”
As a writer and marketer, I have spent the past year getting in touch with my boundaries as I learned to more skilfully process my anger.
This led to all sorts of wonderful things, such as writing proper contracts for my clients, using a payment gateway that takes care of recurring payments, and putting limits on the types of meetings I’ll participate in
It has also allowed me to get clearer on where I am willing to be generous with the work that I do and where my boundaries need to be in order for me to do my best work.
Here are some of the generous boundaries that I now have in my professional life:
I care deeply about the work that I do for my clients and I don’t do emotional labour outside the limits of the project that we’re working on.
I outline the work that I will do and I don’t add in any other work—however easy it may be for me—without first having a discussion about how I’ll be compensated for this addition.
I empathize with changes in schedules and any rescheduling will have to fit within the limits of the time I now have available.
I prioritize the successful completion of a project and have contracts and a recurring payment system to ensure that housekeeping items don’t unnecessarily pull focus.
I meet to discuss and brainstorm ideas and I don’t meet to relay information that can be shared—and easily referenced later on—via email or a video walkthrough.
I communicate all of this—along with any future developments—as soon as possible to ensure the sustainability and success of the work that I’m doing with my clients.
Finally, I am clear with myself that my priority is to do the best that I can to do great work and be a great person to work with. Deadlines come last. (I figured this out thanks to this brilliant convocation speech by Neil Gaiman.)
And, sometimes, being a great person to work with means setting boundaries that allow me to be more compassionate and to do better work.
So, what generous boundaries are you setting?