I recently recognized that I've gotten slack on setting boundaries. This is a new experience for me, and one that has come about as a result of being a self-employed contractor.
As the opportunities for work increased, I found myself staring at a computer screen while Peter prepared dinner. I felt guilty if I took time to read or "close up shop" early. I stopped blogging. Why write for myself when I could write for someone else and get paid for it?
It's my own fault. I blame no one but me. I said yes to every request. I volunteered to help. I focused on what the paychecks could help us pay off. I was excited and stimulated by doing work that used my skills.
And then one day, I realized I had said "yes" one too many times. I was, in essence, writing a check I wasn't sure I wanted to cash. I still love my work, and I love the opportunities that I have said yes to, but in a flash, I understood that life was about finding a balance. As a client wisely advised...
Work is just a part of our larger lives.
Fortunately, this moment of clarity hit me long before I saw the rocks, and here's what I've discovered:
- Working from home has it's downsides. There's no set end time for work. And there's always something more that
needs tocould be done.
- If I don't set limits and perimeters, someone (or something) else will. If I say yes to every job opportunity, I will soon lose the flexibility that comes from being self-employed and working from home.
- If I don't make time for the things I enjoy doing - be it blogging or reading or hanging with the hubby - I won't find that time. Time is a precious commodity, and I want to use it wisely.
- My work is better, my attitude is better, and my day is better if I make room in the schedule for "fun" breaks. Read a chapter in a book. Say yes to impromptu lunch dates. Watch a British TV show.
- Work will always be there - but loved ones will not. Spending time with family, unplugging when my husband is home, making sure my focus is on what matters for eternity - those are my top priorities.
And so, earlier this month, I said NO. I turned down opportunities for additional work, and I felt relief. I realized that there can be an end to the work day - as a contractor, it ends when I stop saying "yes." By saying no, I believe my standards go up, my work improves, and I'm ready to take on new challenges - just fewer of them.
Do you work for yourself? How have you set boundaries?
Have you experienced the power of saying NO?