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Healthy Work Boundaries

September 27, 2020

Establishing Healthy Work Boundaries is Imperative for Career Success

We love our careers in veterinary medicine! It’s not just a job, it’s a purposeful commit to healing animals and serving clients.

However, there are days where we just want to walk away. If there are only a few trying days here and there, that’s normal and people have “tough days.”  It’s when these days come closer together and more in numbers that there needs to be concerned.

What to do?

Listen to this mindful session in Setting Boundaries

Remember your self-care in setting boundareis.  It’s not selfish! It’s about being the best you can be in order to help the pets, the pet parents, and your co-workers.

It’s great if you can go home and rejuvenate AND self-care can occur during your workday as well.

Establishing boundaries

Part of your self-care is knowing when to say “Yes” and when to gracefully say “No.”

In Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, he encourages you to “Put First Things First.” He suggests establishing top priorities and bringing those to fruition, allowing the least important things to simply fade away.

Within a work environment, establishing boundaries can be done in multiple ways. You can still work hard and be a valued member of the veterinary team when you set boundaries. This means defining job duties and being realistic about the time and energy needed to complete the duties to a certain quality standard.

Maintain the standards but avoid overtaxing yourself by setting unrealistic expectations. These expectations may be set by others, or internally by you.  Make sure you know where expectations are actually coming from.

Here are a few ideas to get you started or to encourage you to continue forward.

Recognize and verbalize your needs in a professional way.  Complaining about a situation is unproductive. Stating that there is a problem, offering potential solutions is productive and valuable to all team members. As an example, “I felt frustrated with this happen. Next time we will do this, instead.”

Another example, “The demands of urgent cases is unsustainable. How can we evaluate the demand and define a realistic solution? I have ideas in scheduling and prioritizing our loyal clients.”

Don’t gossip. It’s like “The boy who cried wolf,” continually bringing attention to a false alarm. To gossip is a reflection on you, not the point within the gossip. If you’re talking about people behind their backs, others may not be so inclined to take you seriously when you have a legitamite concern.

Put safety first for yourself, the people around you and your patients. Short cuts aren’t very short if it results in an accident or injury.

Take breaks! These don’t have to be long breaks.  Grab a glass of water. Take a walk around the block. Sit in your car and jam out to your favorite tunes. Sit down to eat a healthy snack. Meet a friend for lunch. Express your need to walk away, re-energizing, to be at your best upon your return. In many states, you will find Meal and Rest Breaks defined within the Department of Labor rules.

ask signAsk for help. Everyone is busy, but it’s up to you to seek assistance. It’s about helping each other to be their best! It’s exemplifying a professional, positive attitude to ask for and provide help when you can. It’s an accepted give and take in building a culture of “I got your back. You’ve got my back.”  Be clear in what you need and how others can help.

Your co-workers are NOT mind readers. Thinking “they should know what my needs are” is setting everyone up for failure. Define your needs clearly and articulate them in a productive manner.

You may wish to step outside of your hospital setting and seek help from a professional coach. Everyone can benefit from a little support, motivation, and a different perspective on current situations.

Once your boundaries are set, be consistent.  Others will test your boundaries and if you don’t remain steadfast, others will adjust them for you.  Your self-care is not selfish! Recognizing that your co-workers also require self-care. You can work together so that everyone is working at their peak perforance.  After all, it’s about being the best you can be in order to help the pets, the pet parents, and your co-workers.

Yours in establishing healthy work boundaries,

Rebecca Rose, CVT

Certified Career Coach

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