Boss Lady

The missing skill that can destroy a woman’s business, and her life


Women are amazing at so many things in business. Traits that are naturally associated with our feminine side, like intuition, nurturing, and juggling many tasks and concepts at once, translate beautifully into the ability to make wise decisions quickly, form lasting relationships, build empowered teams, and wear many hats simultaneously.

But there is one thing we aren’t so good at. One thing that can easily, and subtly, destroy our businesses and our lives before we realize what is happening.

Many women, myself included, struggle with setting boundaries.

It’s only natural

To some extent it’s the other side of our feminine nature. The desire to help, the tendency to work better with full plates, the deep relationships – those can all cause us to want to do more, all at once, than even Wonder Woman could accomplish in a good week.

And to some extent it’s the result of years of conditioning and gender discrimination, years when we had to work twice as hard and accomplish twice as much to earn the same opportunities as men in equivalent roles.

Like many of you, I’ve worked hard to improve my skill at setting healthy boundaries, and on recognizing when I have failed to do so. I set clear expectations with clients, I mark off time on my calendar for writing and “me time,” and my partner (in life and business, because I’m lucky that way) knows I will ask for what I need when I need it. I’ve also gotten pretty good at saying “No” to some things so that I can say “Yes” to the things that matter most.

Because that’s what we have to do, right? As women, as entrepreneurs and business leaders, as friends and lovers and moms and daughters and sisters and caregivers and as humans. It’s like putting on our own oxygen masks before we take care of anyone else, those boundaries are not just to protect ourselves, but to ensure that we are able to be there for those we love.

But recently I’ve realized that there are two areas where my lack of boundaries is costing me dearly. And I’ve made some new resolutions to do what I need to do about that.

I’d like to blame the internet. But of course the internet is just a tool, I’m responsible for how I use it. Or how I let it use me.

According to a 2013 Nielsen audience report, Americans spent more than 10 hours a day staring at a screen. Phones, televisions, computers, or tablets – reading emails, texts, and articles, watching movies, shows, and videos, engaging on Facebook, twitter, or Snapchat. With unlimited data plans and internet speeds of up to 400 MBPS we can consume a lot of media, engage with a lot of content, and connect with a lot of people in 10 hours a day.

Who are you allowing to take up space in your life?

Not only does the internet give us the flexibility to work from anywhere, it also puts a nearly infinite variety of news and entertainment literally at our fingertips and makes us visible and accessible to more people than most of us would ever meet in an average lifetime. Which sounds like a good thing, and it can be. But like our feminine nature, that level of connectivity is a coin with two sides.

Of course one pitfall is the temptation to work at all hours. A temptation I used to fall prey to more than I do now, and, as my awareness and discipline with boundaries continues to grow, it is a temptation I will succumb to less and less often.

What was harder was setting boundaries around how I connect online. What I’ve noticed is that women are conditioned (and I believe naturally inclined) to want to be fair, to trust others, and to give people a chance. And we’re more likely to feel internal conflict, even guilt, over refusing a connection request or “unfriending” a person even if we have never met or never engaged with them in any meaningful way. And yet, many of those “relationships” we see in our timelines aren’t friends, and some are downright toxic.

Now I’m not going to tell you how to manage your relationships – online or off. But I’ve started asking myself this one thing about each relationship before I invest time or energy in maintaining it. “Would I be happy to see this friend if I met them in person?” For me, if I would not feel good about spending even a short time with them, then pretending to be “connected” is just that, a pretense. So if the answer is, “No, I would not,” it’s time to disengage. And if the answer is, “I don’t know, I don’t know them well enough to say,” then I need to make a point of getting to know them better.

What are you allowing to take up space in your brain?

And what about the media and memes that bombard us anytime we log on to our devices? Here too, I am beginning to establish boundaries for what gets my time and attention and what does not. Because space in my mind is precious. My thoughts and beliefs inform my decisions, my actions, my emotions, my outcomes, and ultimately what I can accomplish and who I will become. So if the ideas represented by the content I’m viewing or the conversations I’m having will not add to my ability to be who I want to be or do what I want to do then I need to disengage and not let those things take up residence in my mind.

Establishing new boundaries for how I use the internet was not only necessary to support my business, but also to enrich my life and empower my personal growth. What boundaries do you need to set to allow you to do what you want to do and become the person you want to be?

About Dixie Gillaspie

Dixie Gillaspie is a coach, consultant, firestarter, and confirmed coffee fanatic. She serves as an advisor, a guide, a co-creator, and a co-celebrator for business owners and leaders who want to step into the full power of their gifts and talents and leverage those assets to get what they want in life and business. She is the author of "Just Blow it Up - Firepower for Living an Unlimited Life" and a companion book, "Doses of Dynamite - Firepower for Capturing the Inspiration in Everyday Things", both published by Sound Wisdom. Dixie is a member of the Forbes Coaches Council and has also been an Executive Editor for The Good Men Project, a columnist for, a blogger for HuffPost, and has had articles featured on Fox News and This year she was honored as a “Woman of the Decade in Enterprise and Innovation” by the Women Economic Forum and currently serves on the WEF Board of Advisors for 2018 events. Email: Website: Twitter: Facebook: Linked In: Amazon Author Page:

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