Do you ever find yourself drained from professional interactions in your health and wellness business? Do you get into sticky situations that you don’t know how to handle? If so, you could be having problems with leaky boundaries, which happens to pretty much all of us at some point in our yoga, wellness, or fitness careers.
Let me give you an analogy: Imagine someone gives you a beautiful potted plant as a gift. It’s your job to care for the plant and help it grow. You diligently water it, not realizing that there are small holes in the pot; all the water going in, eventually leaks out.
Despite your best intentions to nurture this plant, the energy and effort you’re putting into it is slowly draining away.
This is exactly what happens in our health and wellness business when we don’t have appropriate boundaries. Boundaries let other people know how to treat us and interact with our business. Boundaries help us manage our energy and time, and create ease in client interaction. Without boundaries, we are less effective and expend more energy than necessary.
Below are three areas where people commonly have a hard time maintaining their boundaries in health and wellness businesses. I invite you to see which of them ring true for you.
Number One: Policies and Procedures
How do you handle it when a client cancels last minute? Does it matter if the client simply forgot, or if she was sick? What if you are hosting an event and you don’t get the number of participants you need to break even; do you cancel the event? Are the people who pre-registered expecting that the event will move forward no matter what?
Anything related to the nuts and bolts of how you run your health and wellness business falls under the category of policies and procedures. How you take payment, handle refunds, cancellations, and other potentially sticky topics are best handled well in advance AND made clearly visible to your customers. There should be no surprises for anyone. Including you.
Action step: make time to review your policies and procedures. Is everything clear? Are there gray areas? If something is fuzzy to you, it will be fuzzy to your clientele. This is the time to fill in gaps in your policies and procedures and make any needed revisions.
Number Two: Time and Energy
In my experience as a career and business coach, this is the area where most yoga and wellness professionals let their boundaries get blurry – if not downright invisible.
It relates to the trifecta of value in our business: time, energy, and money. In other words, it’s how we expend our most valuable resources.
Most of us built a health and wellness business because we love helping others. It makes us feel good to support clients through yoga, nutrition, or whatever we offer, and we usually don’t mind answering a few extra questions here and there. But what if a question or two turns into an extra 15 minutes after someone’s session time has ended? Every session? What if a request for information turns into daily texts and phone calls? When there is not an even exchange of energy between us and our client, we can feel drained or resentful.
It’s important to note that any time you give away more resources than you receive in exchange, you are not upholding your boundaries. This includes things like “working harder than your client,” which I’ve seen with some of my coaching clients; never raising your rates, and begrudgingly doing things for free because you think you have to.
Remember, boundaries are a fundamental way of letting others know how we want to be treated. If you’re letting this boundary repeatedly get breached, you’re telling others it’s okay to treat you as a less valuable professional than you really are, and that never feels good.
Action step: pay attention to how you feel at the end of client interactions for the next month. It might be useful to track this in a journal. Are you energized with certain clients and drained with others? Are you giving away more resources than you are receiving in exchange? Where do you need to shift?
Number Three: Values
Our values are what define us, the things we hold most dear that make us who we are. This particular boundary is something that I’ve struggled with in the past, and I can tell you that it’s a sneaky little devil.
Our values represent a boundary about what is important to us. When we start saying yes to things that aren’t important to us, it’s actually a poor boundary.
So how might this show up in our health and wellness business?
Let’s say you have a client who requests a weekly session with you on Saturday mornings. You don’t typically work on Saturday mornings, but this client says it’s the only time that will work in her schedule. If your values are about dedicating weekends to family and friends time, then you need to maintain this boundary.
Or what about a colleague who asks you to help promote her event on Facebook, and you agree, but when she sends you the event information you realize it’s something that you don’t feel good about promoting because it conflicts with your beliefs. If you value a more pure yoga experience, and your friend’s event is a Beer-asana class, then you have a boundary that is at risk of being crossed.
In these circumstances, it may be hard to say no, especially if we’ve already agreed to something. But it also feels yucky to move forward with a “yes,” and that’s because we are treating ourselves in a way that is out of integrity. The same boundaries we ask others to uphold in terms of how they treat us, we need to observe ourselves. If we don’t, over time we end up shifting from someone who is living her own values, to someone who is constantly responding to other people’s requests, and living their values. And that sucks.
Action step: review your schedule and to-do lists from the past month, and identify all the things you said yes to that weren’t totally aligned with your values. Be hard on yourself with this exercise, you really want everything you do to be 100% aligned with your values. Notice how often you said yes to things when you really wanted to say no. Reflect on how that made you feel, and the repercussions of having weak boundaries in this area.
Leave a comment:
In which areas do you tend to have weaker boundaries in your health and wellness business? What are you in the process of shifting, in order to have stronger boundaries? Share your thoughts, challenges, and successes around boundaries below. We’re all in this together!