Boundaries and the Bottom Line
(aka: why I won’t work for free anymore)
Recently someone said to me something about boundaries and it got me thinking about them, the kind others have and the ones I have for myself.
Boundaries, limits, the proverbial line in the sand. What do you allow? What is acceptable and what is not acceptable?
And this year, I am setting some serious boundaries with myself and my business both as a writer and producer.
Why? Because it’s time.
As I look over my past, I realize that by not setting boundaries, I have not honored myself. I’ve not appreciated and placed a high enough value on my skills and talents, and by doing so, I have suffered both emotionally and financially.
Let me explain. For many years, I would get a job offer and I would just take it, no matter what the pay was or the job. I did not place much value on my skills and abilities so I never asked for much. I was also taught to just take what you can get and just deal with it. “Make do,” as my mother would say. As a result, I ended up working for people who had no respect for me and who treated me as such.
In all of those years, I felt used and quite terrible about it. I never really knew why because I never thought about it much. It all felt really wrong though. I was told to work hard and just do my job so I did just that for years on end. Another phenomenon that I experienced during that was was regarding the quality of my work. The better my work was, the more work they gave me. Not pay, not respect, just more work.
And I get it. I was easy to take advantage of back then because I didn’t know any better. I thought that maybe this was the way the world worked.
Now, a few years ago, I began to experience an awakening of sorts. Maybe that wasn’t the way the world worked. I started writing full time, I started a business and I left my previous career behind me….
Or so I thought.
As I stepped into a more creative role and found my tribe, I’ve found such joy and happiness. I can’t imagine not being in this business, doing what I do now, writing and creating cool and amazing stuff cause deep down, it feels right and I love it.
What doesn’t feel right at this moment, however, is the fact that I keep allowing people to take advantage of me, my generosity, skills and talent.
Yes, I am taking responsibility for allowing it to happen because I am nice and I want to help as many people as I can be successful and live the life of their dreams. I’ve spent hours working on projects for people and not asked for money because I trusted them and believed that they valued me and my work and eventually, they would pay me. I was always afraid to bring up money and ask for money.
How very wrong I have been.
My time is precious to me. When I spend time working for someone be it as a writer or a producer or director and I don’t get paid, it hurts me…emotionally and financially. When I think about all of the hours I have spent using my creativity and skills to help someone create or promote or make something awesome, I get angry because had they hired someone else, they would have paid them.
So….when I think about hiring someone to do something for me, no matter what it is, I want to pay them because they have spent time and used their skill and talent to help me in some way. I would never expect a plumber or mechanic to work on my house or my car for free. What makes it ok to not pay someone (aka me) who is creating something for someone else to use to better their life or business? Creative writing is work and it has value.
So with that being said, I am not going to work for free anymore. My time is valuable. My skills, abilities and creativity are valuable. I cannot pay my bills with ” thank you’s” and “I appreciate you”. I am valuable and what I do creatively has value.
If you want to hire me, great, however, from this moment forward, do not expect me to work for free. I will speak up, write a contract and ask to be paid. I am drawing my line in the sand and setting a boundary.
And that’s the bottom line.