Here's What to Expect In This Episode:
Topics Covered in This Episode:
- The first step in setting boundaries is “deciding what matters.”
- The significant benefits of sticking to your unique boundaries
- How boundaries relate to connecting with staff in your building
- Using your administrator relationship to your advantage to fulfill your tasks and meet your goals
- Reflecting on what you want your relationships to be like with your coworkers
- How sticking to your boundaries can increase job satisfaction
- Strategies from listeners like you on how to avoid work burnout
Resources Mentioned in This Episode:
- Resource: Reset for the New Year Playlist
- Podcast: Episode 44, Owning Your Time Management by Using Your Calendar
- Podcast: Episode 51, How Your Strengths & Skills as a School Counselor Can Be Used in a Private Practice with Lorraine Holeman
- Blog: Counselor Self-Care: The 5 Myths You’re Believing About Work Email Causing You to Fail at It
- Leave your review for High School Counseling Conversations on Apple Podcasts
Other Blog Posts You Might Like:
- Podcast: Episode 23, Work/Life Balance for High School Counselors: 3 Personal Boundaries to Set a More Intentional Work/Life Balance
- Podcast: Episode 48, Research in School Counseling – 4 Categories and What to Do With Them with Sara of the Responsive Counselor
- Podcast: Episode 55, Teamwork Tips for High School Counselors and Administrators
- Blog: Self-care and time management blog posts
- Blog: 4 Ways Time Management Can Be a Powerful High School Counseling Advocacy Tool
Read the transcript for this episode:
The end of one year and beginning of another is a great time to do some self reflection or take an inventory of how you’re feeling about all the things, not just the work things. But work and personal life do all seem to meld together at this time of year. You’re probably on winter break right now, not knowing which day of the week it is eating leftover desserts for breakfast. I’m not here to judge. And I’m not here to force you to think about work.
But if you’re tuning in to high school counseling conversations over your winter break, you probably want some sort of helpful tip to carry you into the new year. So let’s talk about setting and keeping boundaries and saying no. Why is it easier for us as counselors to help other people with these boundary setting techniques than to keep them ourselves? We’re helpers by nature and many of us are people pleaser. So this territory can feel a little daunting.
It’s time to broach the topic of boundaries so that we don’t hit burnout. Listen to this week’s episode, you get some inspiration as you head into January after your winter break. I hope it can inspire some new habits or thoughts around this topic. Let’s get to this week’s show.
You got into this profession to make a difference in your students lives. But you’re spread thin by all of the things that keep getting added to your to do list. I can’t create more hours in the day, but I can invite you into my counselor clique where you’ll finally catch your breath. Come with me as we unpack creative ideas and effective strategies that will help you be the counselor who leaves a lifelong impact on your students. I’m Lauren tingle your high school counseling hype girl here to help you energize your school counseling program and remind you of how much you love your job.
Boundaries are so personal and can look completely different for everyone. In the words of my favorite voice of reason, the lazy genius “decide what matters”. I think this is the perfect lens to look through when you’re trying to decide what your boundaries are, how you’re going to manage them, and how you’re going to make them work for you and in what season of life you’re in.
Our boundaries are often blurred, not in an ethical sense. But in a helping sense. We are helpers, some of us more to a fault than others. If we’re not defining our own boundaries, somebody else is. I’m very passionate about setting boundaries and deciding what matters because it will increase your job satisfaction. If you’re happy in your career and enjoying what you’re doing, you will last.
Will there be stress? Yes. Will there be bad days? Most certainly. Will you be able to balance it all? Not always. But does this need to affect our mental health, physical health and general well being for the sake of being in a helping career? No. Setting boundaries will help you feel proud of the work you’re doing, you’ll be focused on helping students, because I’d be willing to bet that’s why you got into this in the first place. You’ll be confident that what you’re doing is enough, and you are enough.
When I sat down to think about boundaries, I had so many thoughts for relational boundaries and with the people that you’re working with. So that’s actually what this episode turned into. I also want to share some of the boundaries and ideas that you all share with me on Instagram to combat burnout. So that you can really remember that you’re not alone in this. And then maybe those can spark some ideas for you to decide what matters by hearing what matters to others. So keep listening.
Let’s talk about boundaries as they relate to connecting with and relating to other staff in your building. You may have some boundaries that are important to you that fall into this category. So it’s time to get into it. And like I said, I have so many thoughts.
You see teachers and admin in the hallways who asked you to check on this student, to do this thing and that thing. You are the newly named test coordinator, stuck counting test booklets and organizing the master schedule around where teachers are floating in the building. Everyone needs just one more thing for you. I’m urging you to take control of your calendar. Please go back and listen to the time management episode I did episode 44, owning your time management by using your calendar. This will be a game changer.
Next, think about using your administrator relationship to your advantage. Are you going to work with some difficult people who you don’t see eye to eye with or who don’t understand your role? You bet. But how can you align with your administrator to keep moving forward in the same direction. If you’re meeting regularly to discuss goals that both of you are moving towards, this really easily sets the stage for boundaries around the tasks that you’re given and the tasks that you are trying to fulfill.
For example, your three main goals this year, were decided back in August and you went through them with your administrator. Maybe they were things like you wanted to increase promotion rate by X percent. You wanted to have X percent more completers in your CTE classes. And you wanted your students perception of their belonging at school to increase by X percent. You’ve got ambitious, measurable SMART goals, and a lot of programming that comes with those. Like you have so many tasks underneath those to make those goals happen.
Your admin were psyched back then about those back in August because they also wanted their CTE completers so that they could have funding for their school. They wanted promotion rates to increase so that their graduation rate increase. So when a new attendance initiative rolls around and they want you to be in charge of it, you can genuinely remind them that you’re focusing on the three SMART goals that you all set together at the beginning of the year. There are too many opportunities in education to chase shiny objects. And sometimes even our leaders need to be reminded of that in the nicest and most professional ways.
It’s time to ease into 2024 by resetting all of your high school counseling things. Hit follow on this uniquely curated podcast playlist with six flashback episodes from high school counseling conversations to reset your year. Let’s use some tangible strategies to make sure your new semester is run more smoothly, enjoyably and effectively on this podcast playlist, you’re going to discover how to reset yourself, your admin relationships, your surroundings, your counseling team, and your systems. There’s even a bonus pep talk episode in here because I’m cheering for you big time. Prep yourself for a successful second half of the school year by signing up to get your reset playlist by going to counselorlclique.com/resetplaylist. Now back to the show.
Does connecting with others from your workplace matter to you? I know some people’s relational boundary is no I will not hang out with or talk to work people outside of work. I don’t want to follow them on Facebook or Instagram. But others get life from that it’s okay to have a boundary that’s different from somebody else.
Maybe you move to a new city, so spending time with your co-workers in a non work setting is really life giving to you. You may enjoy your job or if you have some real life friends there. So taking the initiative to schedule a happy hour and invite some friends may be just the priority, you need to flip your work energy around. This is the fun thing about boundaries. What may be a boundary to one counselor might be completely different from somebody else.
Your co-workers and co-counselors may be able to help you in addressing your boundaries and burnout. My guests from Episode 51, Lorraine Holman, my former department head emphasize her boundary of leaving work on time. And honestly, this gave others the freedom in our department to do the same. We learned from her example and we followed suit. You may need to speak your boundaries out loud so that others can hold you accountable. I remember at the end of the day, she’d yell down the hallway, I’m leaving who’s walking out with me. And then you’d hear somebody else respond, hold on, I’m just sending this one email and we’d all walk out together.
So what if there’s pushback when you’re setting boundaries that feel extremely relational? Remember, I said we’re working with humans, we are flawed, they are flawed, we have our own personalities. And we just may never see eye to eye. And that’s okay. Instead of thinking that our boundaries may come off as rude to someone, we have to change the narrative in our minds. I know there are 101 books out there about boundaries. So I don’t need to tell you this, you could read one of those books for more ideas for revamping your mindset around this.
Really quickly, I wanted to mention managing our own expectations around our jobs as high school counselors. Here’s your reminder, you will not accomplish everything in one day, you won’t even accomplish everything in a week. Heck, I had things that would sit on my to do list all semester that were nice to imagine getting to. I know you’re already good at this. But remember, you have to be adaptable and flexible. As a high school counselor. We’re humans working with other humans remember. People are straight up unpredictable, especially teenagers and angry parents.
Let’s shift that mindset from it must all get done, to it’s just not going to all get done. It’s a good thing. Because listen, once you complete the task, more are added to the list. That list will always be there. Establishing and following through with your boundaries will pay off. As you manage your expectations around these things, you will in turn start to shift away from burnout. And this matters. When you have the boundary set, you’re better at doing your job because you’re there and you’re focused, just like I’m a better mom when I’m at home and I’m not focused on work.
Just like if I want to rest I need to rest 100% Not scroll on Instagram. I need to give my all to whatever I’m focused on. More focused equals more productive in the space that I actually want to be in at that present time. And remember, when you’re focused, productive and not burn out, you love your job more. The goal is ultimate job satisfaction. I want you to love what you’re doing. Align your priorities so that you can remind yourself of how much you do love your job.
Lastly, I want to mention some of your boundaries and strategies that you shared with me on Instagram to avoid burnout that I haven’t mentioned already in the episode, I kind of sprinkled some of them throughout the episode. Overwhelmingly and rightfully so a lot of you had boundaries around email, I’d venture to say we have a lot less physical work to take home with us than teachers do.
However, we have this emotional burden that comes with our work and we take it home with us. People seem to need us all the time and they reach out via email. Many of you said that you have taken your work email off of your phone completely. And then along with this a common boundary was not checking work email at night or on breaks or setting out of office replies as necessary.
Another practical boundary around this was leaving your work computer at work, no temptations to open it up just to check something. I have a whole blog post called the five myths, your believing about work email causing you to fail at self care. I know that sounds bold, but these are ideas that I had to get over to step away from my work email at home because I did not always believe those things, I’d encourage you to go read it.
To give you all some other ideas of things that matter to some other followers and listeners that may also matter to you. If you haven’t thought of these already, I’ll just read them to you closing the door as needed for brakes, not letting pushy parents or students call me by my first name, not giving out my cell phone number to students, remembering that my own kids need me as their mom too.
And then in a similar category, answers from listeners and followers that they are using to protect themselves from burnout. The Clique Collaborative Community, this podcast, not going to work which I laughed at, but using personal days and time off and then templated emails. So being efficient and not wasting time on little things keeps you focused and in the moment.
I hope these last few things gave you some practical ideas that others are using and thinking about as they pace themselves through second semester. I know we’re about to hit that long stretch of time where it seems like we have no days off and no time to ourselves. So prepare yourself for it, put in the rhythms and routines, put together the systems and supports that you need to get through it. My dream is that this podcast would continue to serve you and encourage you as you march through your days and be the best version of yourself for your high school students. I’ll see you next week.
Thanks for listening to today’s episode of High School Counseling Conversations. All the links I talked about today can be found in the show notes and also at counselorclique.com/podcast. Be sure to hit follow wherever you listen to your podcast so that you never miss a new episode. Connect with me over on Instagram. Feel free to send me a DM @counselorclique. That’s CLIQUE. I’ll see you next week.
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