Boundaries are very important to establish in all your relationships. You have to know what your limits are. You have to know what is your business and what is not your business; what is your problem and what is not your problem; what you need to take care of and what you don't need to take care of; and what you will tolerate and what you won't tolerate.
You need to set your boundaries at the beginning of each relationship. This is not to say you have a list of do's and don'ts that you hand to every person and businessperson you deal with. This does mean you need to have clear boundaries in mind, and when they are crossed the first time, you gently inform the person and nip the potential problem in the bud. For instance, one of my clients started sending me e-mail jokes. I didn't want any unnecessary mail, so I had to set my boundaries. I explained that it is a policy of mine to use that e-mail address for business correspondence only. Thereafter, I knew I had to make a point to inform my future clients of this policy.
Remember, you are building a foundation for successful and respectful relationships. It is always best to respect not only your own boundaries, but those of others as well. The best way to do this is to ask if it is all right to do something before you actually do it--even with the simple things. A case in point would be what times are good to call someone; what is too early, what is too late? For example, I am an early to bed and early to rise person. I also like to have an hour of quiet time before I go to bed. Therefore, I set my boundaries so that no one calls me too late in the evening.
In business relationships, boundaries need to be set as well. Let your clients and partners know where you prefer to be called and between what hours. If you prefer not to be called on weekends, say so. Personally, my weekends are reserved for family and friends. When I have social gatherings at my house, I let everyone know that no shoptalk is permitted--only fun and frivolity. This gives everyone the chance to get away from work and relax and have fun.
Setting healthy boundaries is one way of creating a solid foundation and symmetry in your life. These boundaries will help you maintain the balance between your business and personal relationships. In turn, this helps keep you on track in honoring your personal relationships and not allowing the business side of your life to grow out of control.
In setting boundaries, you are claiming the priorities in your life and honoring them. I can assure you that if you think you need to sacrifice all you are to get ahead in business, your personal life will fail. When your personal life fails, it affects your business life and that will suffer as well. The key to success in any, and every, area of life is balance.
Knowing your priorities is a key factor. Let's do an exercise that might help illustrate this point. Draw a circle with eight equal parts--like a wagon wheel. In each part, write the different aspects of your life (i.e. money, health, career, fun and recreation, significant other/romance, friends and family and physical environment). …