Limit Yourself: Setting Limits So You Can Grow And Excel

by Sarah on May 14, 2011

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Here’s a simple piece of advice for making your business and you grow: Limit yourself.

I would not have reached the successes in my home business without setting limits.

Limits are not always confining but defining.

Limits help us understand where our priorities lie. What we care about and what we can do without.

And when you work at home, in the midst of your family life, limits are absolute necessities.

  • I set limits with my clients. On each email I send out I have my office hours listed. While I make exceptions by appointment, I keep to these in general with all communications.
  • I set limits with my family. Even when my kids were younger, ages 6 and older, I would sometimes tell them to wait because I was writing. Now that they are older, they know there are times when I’m working and they need to wait for a break to interrupt.
  • My husband, too, knows that there are times I can’t step away from my computer to discuss the news, practice kickboxing, or simply sit outside together and enjoy the afternoon beauty together.

But most importantly,

  • I’m working on setting limits with myself.

It’s a work in progress. I’m not always good about it. But it’s probably one of the most important tasks I’m doing to go farther in my business and live a deeper and richer life.

Because as I said in the beginning, these limits are not confining, they are defining.

  • These limits narrow my focus so I can become a laser beam when I work.
  • They help me stop chasing the shiny objects in the online marketing world so that I can methodically work on the methods I’ve decided on, master them and make them work for me.
  • They also help me stay whole as a person. I limit the time and attention I put into my work so I can put energy into my whole life.

I can garden, listen to my children’s stories when they come home from school, challenge myself on a mountain bike trail, reflect on personal changes I’m working on, spend time with my husband looking at what we’re building together.

Limits Aren’t Easy

Developing limits for myself is not easy. I find myself getting sucked into my work and the world online very easily.

Much of this comes from my upbringing in a household of academic achievers who dove into books and politics to avoid dealing with the personal elements of life.

For me, it’s so easy to mark my accomplishments in my work. I can put a dollar value on my time and effort. I can count the number of posts and website visitors.

Assessing progress and success in my personal life is harder. There aren’t clear numbers to attach to how close am I with my husband, my daughter and my son.

And working on my personal life is harder still since it takes much more than thoughts and words. It takes actions.

But that being said, I’m working on this. And setting limits is what’s helping me.

Limit’s Sister, Expectations

And with these limits come expectations. Like limits, expectations can shoot you forward.

Or drown you in overwhelm.

When I set limits for myself, I’m also setting expectations.

I know that when I say no to one project, I’m telling myself I better hit a homerun with this other one I’m taking on.

If I’m not using this vehicle to market my businesses, I better work hard and consistently on the ones I have chosen.

My limits make my expectations pretty meaningful.

But while my limits help me up my expectations a notch, they become realistic. Because I’m not expecting myself to do everything. Or do everything at a stellar level.

They are expectations that I actually plan to meet.

And they’re mine. I chose them. No one else chose them for me.

Expecting Others To Help

My expectations and limits for myself also mean I have expectations for my family.  Not only do I set limits with my family so I can get my work done, I expect them to help me around the house more.

Tsh Oxenreider of SimpleMom wrote a rich post about how important it is to get help when you run a home business.

And like Tsh, my biggest source of help is my husband. Followed closely by my two kids. I put some real expectations on my children to help support my efforts by helping more around the house.

But these expectations don’t only help me, they help my children. I’ve written a post this week about how when you give them chores, kids thrive.

I place expectations on my husband. I expect him to understand when we have to shift schedules, eat spaghetti for dinner again or give up some of our one-on-one time after the kids go to bed because of my business.

But I can only hold these expectations because I’ve set limits and expectations for myself.

Set Your Limits, Choose Your Expectations, And Own Your Life And Your Home Business

When it comes down to it, owning a home business gives you enormous control over your life.

By deciding to work at home, you’ve also become master of your destiny.

But when you take this kind of control, you have to make choices. Some of them are hard. Sometimes you have to be ruthless.

But only by making choices and saying “no” to certain things in your life, do you really say “yes” to others. And get to hold and savor the things you want.

As my wise husband has said many a time, “You can have it all. You just can’t have all of everything!”

How do you use limits and expectations to help you in your personal life and running your home business? Please share:

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  • Ann

    Thanks for this post, Sarah, I enjoyed reading it and I found a number of ideas that I am learning to put into practice.  Setting limits, for example, where I am learning that I should not, need not,  work late every night.  Night has been my best writing time until lately, but I am finding that I cannot and need not use that time in order to be productive.   Your comment “Limits are not always confining, but defining” hit a chord.  Thank you! 
     Ann Jordan-Mills

    • Clac

      Thank you for commenting. You know, I didn’t think about how time is part of this. But certainly when I say, I’m going to get this done by XX or in 20 minutes I work so much better.   And I’ve also found that while often I’ve worked better at nights it’s more because I didn’t push myself to get things done earlier and I’m finally feeling the pressure of time as the day wanes. When I do this I end up paying for this with less family time and less energy the next day.

      Glad it hit a chord!

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