For decades, little girls have been taught to be pleasant. Be agreeable. Be nice. And we tried it that way, for a long time, actually! But let’s just call it like it is: It’s no longer “a man’s world.” Women have been stepping up and showing out for centuries. Putting ourselves out there and fighting tirelessly in pursuit of equality and shifting the majority at Power Tables in every industry. How do we continue to outsmart and outperform our counterparts?
Look around at the successful women in your circle. They didn’t get there by people pleasing and ignoring their own goals and aspirations. Sure, at some point setting boundaries in their business may have been challenging. But ultimately, they took control of the narrative and wrote their own story.
Beverly Davis, founder and CEO of Davis Financial Services and author of The Female Business Mindset uses an approach that is centered around ensuring she sets her boundaries with intention while remaining in a feminine space. “I love the fact that I’m a woman and I don’t ever want to have to downplay that to achieve anything. So I set hard boundaries in a very soft way.”
In her opinion, the biggest boundary for women to focus on is setting their intentions from the beginning.
“It’s important for women entrepreneurs to set boundaries around their business mission and values. Set early boundaries around the work you want to do in your business so that you don’t fall into the trap of doing things outside your mission or values just for money. Set boundaries around who you partner and collaborate with because not all opportunities are lucrative in the long run if they do not align with your core mission and values.”
Davis even attaches boundaries to her goal-setting plans. For example, this year, she set a goal to expand her international outreach. As a boundary to support her intentions, she now designates a block of time each day to research and finding the right spaces to make those connections happen.
She also places boundaries on who she talks to because frankly, people have the innate ability to talk us out of things. She intentionally avoids negative responders, which helps her to stay laser-focused on her goals. “I’m looking for positivity. “I’m looking for empowerment. I’m looking for motivation and inspiration.”
When it comes to being a woman of color in business, she believes that focusing on that narrative alone can be somewhat limiting. It can overshadow the value of some women’s hard work and ultimately, set unwanted and unintentional boundaries for black women. “I happen to be a woman and I happen to be a black woman. But this is also me being a hard worker, smart, intelligent, and just human.” This circles back to the importance of setting her own personal and professional intentions. “Whatever you water grows, so if you focus on that narrative, that’s what’s going to be seen. Eventually, people don’t see you, they see a Black woman.”
Boundaries are also vital for keeping a healthy balance in our personal lives. Making time and space for the people and things we care about creates a fulfilling home life and essentially, supports a healthy work-life balance. And because of this, Beverly’s cut-off game is tight. “When I’m done with work, I’m done with work.” Period.
We’ve all watched the mass office exodus at 5 p.m., knowing we’re DoorDashing dinner to our desk again. We’ve answered those calls on a Saturday afternoon from a kid’s birthday party that definitely could have waited until Monday. All clear indicators that we’ve either moved our boundaries to accommodate others, or possibly… never set them to begin with.
With the first quarter in the rearview, now is the time to evaluate your boundaries and ensure 2023 is positive, productive, and profitable.