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Setting Boundaries During the Holiday Season

Boundaries are the key to a healthy work-life balance at any time of year. Still, it becomes especially prudent during the holidays when you likely want to reserve some quality time to spend with friends and family. The wedding industry operates cyclically, and most industry professionals understand that the busy season means sacrificing many of the personal aspects of life. When the off-season rolls around, it’s our time to rest, relax, and rebuild for another busy year ahead of us.

This year, setting boundaries has been remarkably tricky as COVID-19 has kept us on our toes and forced us to keep the hustle going for our businesses to survive. Our clients have struggled with the anxiety of planning events amidst a global pandemic, and we, too, have experienced our fair share of fear and uncertainty.

If we take one lesson away from 2020, let it be that boundaries are the foundation of a happy and healthy life — both on a personal and a professional level. Yet, setting boundaries can be challenging, especially for creative solopreneurs who feel like they must do everything to keep their clients satisfied.

Here’s how you can reclaim your time (and sanity) during this upcoming season and prepare for a strong 2021 ahead.

Revisit your contract.

Before anything else, you need to start with your contract. After all, it’s the only binding document you have with a client that outlines your working agreement’s parameters. Clearly state all of your services’ expectations and limitations, including things like set office hours, best ways to reach you, client responsibilities, and proposed timelines.

Since every client has to sign off on your contract before getting started, you can define your boundaries from the get-go and protect your business. Going forward, you can always revisit your contract with a client if they are crossing the line; it also means you can terminate an agreement due to breach of contract, further safeguarding your interests.

Present alternatives.

For many, it’s hard to say ‘no’ to a client. It makes sense, seeing that we are in the business of serving a stellar experience. However, sometimes requests are not feasible and we can’t say ‘yes.’ Instead of doling out refusals, offer them an alternative to their desires.

Maybe you are taking Wednesday evenings off for family time; offer up Tuesdays or Thursdays instead of giving a flat ‘no.’ Likewise, if they’re pushing boundaries and demanding services outside of your scope, restate your existing agreement and suggest other vendors who can fill their needs (or offer up the services at an extra cost). Be prepared to always have a backup so you can draw your boundaries without letting your clients down.

Walk away if necessary.

It can be hard to find a healthy balance between satisfying your clients and protecting your business. Unfortunately, there will always be people who try to take advantage of our services and repeatedly cross the lines we’ve drawn in our contract. If you find yourself in this situation, it might be time to cut your losses and terminate the contract.

Be patient with clients as they understand the guidelines of working with you, as it may take some time to learn the ropes. However, if you consistently feel disrespected despite attempts to bridge the gap and solve the issue, it may be in your best interest to dissolve the agreement and go your separate ways. Of course, this takes us back to the first point to highlight the importance of revisiting your contract and ensuring it’s up-to-date with your boundaries and expectations.

Drawing clear boundaries keeps the client relationship transparent and ensures that you and your clients are on the same page about what’s to be expected. Moreover, sticking to those parameters will free up time and energy for you to embrace more personal time and truly make the most of your holiday season — without risking the integrity of your client experience.

Jennifer Taylor is the principal of Jen Taylor Consulting, a consulting firm that works with creative businesses of all sizes to implement streamlined workflows and organized systems to find more time and space for business growth and personal development. She is also the owner and founder of Taylor’d Event Group, a leading event planning company that serves local and destination clients in Washington State and Maui, HI.

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Jennifer Taylor

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