Do you ever have trouble getting family and friends to respect your business?
I know I still do sometimes, even after doing this for over 20 years.
I don’t know that it will ever change when it comes to certain people we have to deal with in our lives.
Here’s an example of what I mean…
So one of the reasons I went into business for myself is to have more control over my own life. To have more say about how I spend my time (and on whom), to get more joy and fulfillment out of the work I do and the gratification it brings seeing how it helps my clients in very immediate and impactful ways.
Most of all, I wanted to be able to be present in my own life, to be able to be there for those I love.
My dad was diagnosed with Parkinson’s about 10 years ago. In 2014, his health took a severe nosedive and he ended up in the ER and then assisted living for a year.
My sister lives in the same city as my dad, but doesn’t drive and works a 9-5 job.
I live about an hour away, but since I am the only one who drives, I’m the one who had to pick everyone up and shuttle them around back and forth.
Since that time, because I’m the only one who drives and because I have a business working for myself and have the flexibility, I’m the one who has scheduled all my dad’s various appointments and run him around to all of them: primary care, neurologist, weekly B12 shots, eye appointments, hearing appointments, cognitive testing, blood draws, etc.
I take him to get his hair cut, his toe nails taken care of (he needs a special appointment for this), runs to the grocery store, the pharmacy, and a multitude of other errands.
I also make sure his house stays clean (especially his bathroom) and check the fridge to make sure anything old and expired is thrown out since my sister, who actually lives mere blocks from him, fails to do any of this no matter how many times I ask.
I’m happy to do it; there also isn’t anyone else to do it so it falls on my shoulders. Someone has to take care of him, right?
While I’m grateful to be able to do it, at the same time, it’s no easy task. It eats up a shit ton of time and energy.
Plus, it’s not all happy, happy, joy, joy. My relationship with my dad has been difficult and strained my whole life.
And doing all of this, making the time to do it, has had negative effects on my business, cost me a lot in very real financial ways, and caused me to lose a whole lot of momentum.
Having to take my dad to what may only be a half-hour appointment ends up eating a whole day of my time and energy and actual work hours.
It disrupts my entire life and business. I’m completely spent and it sometimes takes me a day or two to recuperate and get back into the swing of things.
Yes, I am very fortunate I have the freedom and flexibility to be able to do this for my dad. My dad and my sister are very lucky that I’m in the position I am to be able to do it because if I didn’t, there’s no one else to fall back on.
Still, it really sucks that they take it for granted and don’t consider just how much of a toll it takes on my life and my livelihood.
If my sister had to do this while trying to hold down a job, she’d end up in the loony bin, not to mention fired.
But she’s so cavalier about my time and doesn’t seem to grasp the fact that, um, hey, I work for a living, too!
It’s so easy for people to look at your life and think all you’re doing is sitting around at home playing on the computer.
They don’t see that you are doing real work, important work, for real people who are depending on you in very real and important ways.
Your clients have invested their time and money and faith in you, and you have the privilege and duty to not let them down and manage your obligations to them.
So what’s the solution?
Maybe we need to set more boundaries and make sure the people in our lives honor those boundaries.
Maybe we need to be more respectful of own boundaries and not step over them and make concessions all the time.
Because it’s a slippery slope when we do that, and next thing you know, you have no boundaries at all.
Maybe we need to say “no” more often.
It’s honorable to want to help and to be able to make sacrifices when it’s important and necessary to do so. But we can’t neglect our own self-care.
When you say “yes” too often, people tend to take it for granted.
Don’t let them off the hook so easy. Make them shoulder more of the load.
It may not be easy to say “no,” but I think we are all worthy of looking out for our own health and best interests as much as we look out and care for others in our lives.
Maybe we need to dress our businesses up in more formal, tangible, traditional ways.
Have that professional website up. Have those professionally printed business cards. Establish professional hours. Lay down the law with your family and friends so that they know when you’re working in your business, you are AT WORK.
If this is one of the problems you have, don’t let them just drop in and gab any ol’ time they please. Make appointments. If someone drops in unannounced, politely but assertively turn them away. Let them know what your office hours are and that they need to call or email first to make sure if or when you are free (that’s just basic good manners anyway; their lack of consideration is one thing; you accepting it is another).
Dedicate a room in your home for your office. If you don’t have a room, then a space. And make sure everyone knows that that space is sacred and off limits.
If you live with others, perhaps putting on “work” clothes and getting out of the bathrobe once in awhile (lol) will help them see that you take your business as serious as they take their job.
While we sometimes need to have a straight talk with a client now and then about boundaries (and a lot of times, it’s we ourselves who teach them bad habits in the first place), I think a lot of times it’s our family and friends who are the worst at respecting our businesses and boundaries.
Have you experienced this in some way yourself? What are some of the ways you have dealt with it?