How to set up boundaries between work and personal life

This week's question from my portal “The Neagle Code: Directions for Life” comes from someone who wishes to remain anonymous.

Neagle Code Question

Hi David,

HELP!!! As a small business owner, my entire life is devoted to running and keeping my business afloat. I have not had time for a personal life. When I get with people in my industry, one or two things tend to happen:

1) They want me to mentor them for free;

2) They want to sell me their services when all I want is a friend.

How can I separate my business and my personal life when they are one in the same?

Neagle Code Answer

Thank you for the question!

The problem you are describing in your question is nothing more than a boundary issue.

The fact that you see your business life and personal life as one is a key indicator that you have not set proper boundaries for your life and in your relationships.

Your business life should be your business life, and your personal life should be your personal life.

Here are some suggestions on how to set proper boundaries:

1) Have a set start and end time to your work day. Do not let your work invade your personal time. Work will always fill the time you allot it, so you may find that you are much more efficient when you have a limited time to work on your business.

2) Get involved in something outside your business. If you like to fish, join a fishing club. If you like to read, join a book club. If you like to hike, join a hiking club. This will expose you to people who know nothing about your business, but still share the same interests that you do. They won’t want anything from you except your thoughts on your favorite fishing spot, book, or hiking trail.

3) Schedule time with your current friends and gently let them know that you’re not open to a conversation about your business, and you don’t feel you can be their coach and their friend at the same time. You’d much rather be their friend. If you’re worried about what you’ll talk about, think about purchasing a small box of conversation starters. They are great to spark new and interesting conversation.

4) Do some journaling about who you are outside of your business. You need to begin to realize that your business is not your identity.

Keep in mind that as you do this, you may feel a small bit of anxiety. It’s perfectly normal as you begin to redefine who you are and what life you most want to live.

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6 comments

    • Hi Beverly! A box of conversation starters is simply a series of cards you can carry in your pocket that have short phrases and questions written on them. They are quite handy for opening up the dialogue since they can be on a wide variety of subjects. All you need to do is search ‘Conversation Starters’ and you’ll be on your way. They are both fun and engaging, and a great way to have built in conversation with your friends that doesn’t involve your business. Above all, have fun with it! In that spirit, I leave you with this … If you had intro music, what song would it be? Why? Enjoy!

  1. David- how does this relate to “what are you willing to do?” I am in debt and working every moment I can. I’ve been willing to sacrifice social time and time off to grow my business. I’ve been willing to ask my friends to become clients. I would love to have a life in addition to my work and family, but there are only 24 hours in a day and I’ve been willing to sacrifice my personal life. Thanks!

    • Thanks for asking the question Ani, and without knowing much of your current situation I can only offer up this. When you are in the process of growing your business are you making daily sales offers to those outside of your personal circle? Every day a business goes without making a sale is one day closer to that business closing its doors. Your willingness to make a sale, along with your high sense of urgency, is what allows you to breakthrough what others may think of you and get the money flowing your way. Make a commitment to yourself, right in this instance, that you are not going to sleep until you make a sale. If that means you are up at 2am cold calling an international prospect, than that is exactly what it means. If you can do that, over and over again, you will shift to the place of being able to enjoy a personal life and prove to yourself that sales and helping others is what you were meant to do. Pick up the phone and start right now.

  2. David I just love your always sage advice! Thank you so much for these weekly Q&A sessions with you. Invaluable!

    • Thank you Alysa, it is my pleasure. I look forward to these weekly questions from readers who are really wanting to get out from underneath that stuck place and tap into their greatness. Here’s to many, many more!

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