“Compassionate people ask for what they need. They say no when they need to, and when they say yes, they mean it. They’re compassionate because their boundaries keep them out of resentment.”
~ Brené Brown
Given how often I talk about serving and giving in the context of your business, a question that often comes up is how to avoid burnout when practicing generosity and being of service to the people in our network. I’d like to address that in this blog post and share with you some hard-earned tips to avoid giving too much at the expense of your own self care.
Being generous doesn’t mean always saying yes
I’m all for being generous with the people in your world, your colleagues, peers, followers, fans, clients and customers but if we assume that means we can’t ever say no, then we’re headed for trouble. The kind of people I work with, big-hearted, kind, conscious types, typically have no problem when it comes to giving which is great when it comes to doing business with generosity but where they oftentimes struggle is with saying no or over-giving even when they’re feeling depleted and exhausted themselves. Can you relate? Knowing when it’s time to say no and putting in place healthy boundaries that prevent you from over-giving or from other people taking advantage of your generosity is essential to your sustainability as a business owner.
Take control of your schedule
One simple and very effective way to set healthy boundaries around how much you give is to set up your calendar so that it’s impossible for you to overgive. Ways to do this include limiting the number of free sessions people can book in your calendar per day and per week. A common mistake many business owners make in the early days of business when their schedules are more spacious is to allow people to book time in with them, whenever they want. To take control of your schedule I encourage you to block out time for your most essential business tasks and carve out specific and limited spaces for any free calls, sessions or time you might give for free.
One of the best ways I know of to deepen relationships with members of your audience or network is to get on a call. If you’re a service based business owner like a coach or healer, then I also recommend gifting complimentary sessions as a way to demonstrate your skills to prospective clients. Of course things can get pretty intense for you if you allow too many of these in your calendar so as I mentioned be sure to limit availability, add in buffers between calls (most schedulers allow you to do this) and even block out whole days free from calls so you can focus on deep/focused work.
Do less to achieve more
We’ve all watched the flight safety announcement given before take-off (back in the days when we were able to fly!) which state that in the event of a loss of cabin pressure, you absolutely must put your own oxygen mask on before putting on the mask of your children or others. Any mother will know that the thought of putting your own safety ahead of your child’s feels like a completely alien concept and the same goes for the generous business owner, who wants to do nothing more than help other people.
Believe me when I tell you that your ability to help others will be compromised if you consistently put your own needs last. Several years ago, I had a whole year of what can only be described as constant illness. I was prescribed antibiotics at least once a month, every month for conditions including tonsillitis, gastroenteritis, mastitis, laryngitis and many more. I was officially run down. I was doing a million things in my business, dealing with a big move, parenting a 2 year old and battling what I now know was some level of burnout. It goes without saying that my business suffered.
Despite working harder and longer than at any other time in my business journey it was one of my worst years, financially. Given little choice but to scale back my activities, I finally understood the concept that I needed to do less in order to do more. The following year I changed everything, I reduced my hours, scheduled lots of breaks into my daily routine, stopped launching new offerings, stopped hosting free challenges and scrapped products and services that were costing more time and energy than they were worth in revenue. The result? That following year was my best year financially and my business and my bottom line has experienced exciting levels of growth since.
So in conclusion? Being generous is a truly wonderful way to do business but not at the expense of YOU and your sanity or well-being. I hope these tips go some way to helping you to put in place healthy boundaries that allow you show up and serve your audience without risking burn out.