"You Lack Professional Boundaries."

I met up with Bail and Frogger the other night at one of Boston's finest "Masters of the Universe" institutions (now that the Oak Bar has remodeled into a trendy disaster - I miss the leather chairs, watching old men with young "dates" and martinis!), No. 9 Park.

Getting out to No. 9 is a treat for us. Because an evening there, even though we sit at the bar and eat off the bar menu, is never cheap. It's maybe twice a year we get there. And it never disappoints. But the place can get quite packed in the bar area, so we utilize a strategy whenever we plan to go. And that strategy is:
Whoever is the most punctual gets there right when it opens and snags the appropriate number of seats at the bar.
That person is usually me. Of course.

After I arrived, Bail was soon to follow. Then Frogger. And we got to talking about the work day, as well as my anxiousness about my next career move... Which both the other ladies find humorous.

"If you really wanted a job," Frogger alluded, "You'd have found one by now. But you are looking for a role that is a right fit."

Bail agreed. Both ladies, along with others in my life, know me quite well.

"Your problem is," Frogger said, "that you lack 'professional boundaries.'"

I didn't really follow what she was saying. But Bail totally agreed with her.

"You're very good," she continued, "with establishing personal boundaries in your life. What you will and will not do and accept in your personal life.  But when it comes to your professional life? You let people take advantage of you. I just didn't realize how bad it was until you told me you never negotiate."

Cut to me feeling shamed. But she was correct.

When I have a job, I never say "no" to anything. I burn myself out till there's no more wick to burn. I throw myself into work - as my friends and husband can attest - and barely come up for air.

"How can someone so good at setting boundaries in their personal life be so bad at setting them in their professional life?" ended Frogger.

I have no idea.

Since about the age of 22, I've been very good about deciding and manifesting what I wanted personally. And out of habit, I drove that manifestation down into the details of my personal relationships. But professionally, other than aggressively attacking my career path and achieving success in performance and title, I have not really outlined how I want that work-life balance to look.

And the truth is, I never say "no" to any opportunity at work. If something is asked of me, I do it. Hell, I almost took a long term contract this past week that would not have been in any way a right fit simply because it gave me something to do. It in no way would have advanced my career. It would have paid nicely. But my friends were correct that I needed to set boundaries of what I want before I hop into another role.

The Husband and I talked about it at brunch today, and he reiterated his professional request of me...

"You need a senior-level role with smart people that allows you room to grow quickly and pays you competitively to what the market is currently at in your industry." 

Sounds so much simpler than it is for me. What he's saying is common sense. But when I go to apply this common sense, I get lost. I always figure the salary can be adjusted at some point down the road. But the position and the career path, I get suckered in by those things quite easily.

We'll see what the next six months bring. But for now, my husband and friends have asked that I just figure out my boundaries and not worry about the rest.