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How to Set Business Boundaries (and Life Boundaries) with Justine Sones

Liston Witherill
Liston Witherill
3 min read

About This Talk

This talk is by Justine Sones and was recorded on October 19, 2020. You can learn more about Justine by:


00:00 Intro
08:20 What a Healthy Boundary Is
14:26 Boundary Violations and Your Feelings
28:04 How Justine Learned About Boundaries the Hard Way
32:19 Justine’s 4R’s Framework for Setting Business Boundaries
36:29 What Boundaries Sound Like In Practice

What Is a Healthy Business Boundary?

Justine found that in her own business she didn’t need more time, money, or any other outcome that so many of us focus on. Instead, the missing component was having more boundaries.

According to Justine, a healthy boundary is “a limit that protects your integrity.” A healthy boundary is also semi-permeable: “it allows the good in, while keeping the bad out.”

You don’t need to be so rigid as to set black-or-white rules about your boundaries, but it’s critical to have clear guidelines and acknowledge the limits you need to have in place.

How to Know When Boundaries Have Been Crossed

We all have both physical and emotional boundaries. A physical boundary is our skin – it literally separates us from our environment. We don’t need a guide for when a physical boundary has been crossed because we immediately sense it. Someone has touched us, or even just stood too close to us. We Americans like our space!

With emotional boundaries, it’s less obvious. We first need to figure out who we are individually so that “the person you are on the outside is the person you are on the inside” – we need a strong sense of self in order to know who we are, what we need, and set boundaries.

According to Justine, your feelings are where your boundaries begin. But we can’t completely abandon our rational thought. Our bodies (and brains!) can’t tell the difference between a mortal threat, or a temporary and minor setback. Feelings can be so deceiving and confusing.

But all of this confusion is just a part of our survival instincts: a stress response initiates a fight, flight, or freeze response, even in a business setting that has nothing to do with survival.

What Causes Burnout?

According to therapist Nedra Glover Tawwab, burnout has some pretty concrete causes. As you can see in her chart, burnout is almost entirely due to a lack of boundaries.

It reminds me of Mark Manson’s Law of Fuck Yes or No. Too often we let marginal, unexciting things with high opportunity costs co-opt our time, attention, and energy.

That’s the source of burnout.


Justine’s Experience With Business Boundaries

Justine’s boundaries shifted a lot once she had kids and started working remotely.

Once kids came into the picture, Justine could no longer have complete ownership of her time. It changed her entire relationship to time, and all of her personal boundary-setting strategies no longer worked for her.

She reached a breaking point and noticed that her previous strategies weren’t sufficient. In order to heal, she had to create some space so she could take care of herself. She says:

“Only after we’ve taken care of our Selves can we show up for others in whole and meaningful ways.”

Justine’s 4R’s Framework For Setting Business Boundaries

Healing doesn’t happen on its own, or accidentally. Justine has a framework she uses for setting business boundaries in four parts.

Retreat: once you see that you need additional boundaries to stay healthy, retreat temporarily in order to reset yourself.

Recovery: you’ve established self-care practices and boundaries. You go with the everyday ebbs and flows of stress.

Reserves: as you recover more frequently, you’ll begin to build reserves and you’ll be in a place to give more to others.

Revolution: even though we’ve been taught to hustle at any cost and people please, we need firmer boundaries to take care of ourselves. As we establish those boundaries, we’ll begin to revolutionize our energy reserves and self-care practices.