Help! My Job is Eating my Life!

In April we created a virtual fundraising career conference, which was a howling success. We had 550 attendees, 13 presenters, and 3 days of action packed informative presentations.

One of the reasons that our conference was such a success is that Sheena Greer was presenting. I’ve talked with people after the conference and some people said her session was their favorite.  She is incredible, and I learned so much from her. Her presentation was on boundaries at work. Sheena is the founder of Colludo, a nonprofit communications agency that helps nonprofits communicate more effectively. You can read more about her work at

One of the key things I took away from her presentation was how to identify if you have issues with boundaries.

She said, do any of these ring true for you?

You may have issues with boundaries if:

You may have boundary issues if you feel guilty for saying no

Or, you may have boundary issues if:

You might give too much to be viewed as useful.

So, do you ever become overly involved in someone else’s problems?

Do you ever not communicate your needs in order to “keep the peace?”

Do you often allow yourself to be distracted to meet the immediate needs/wants of others? Well, in an open floor plan office, like the one I used to work in, that used to happen ALL. THE. TIME. My boss had a door he could shut. We didn’t.


These slides were just blowing me away so of course I was tweeting furiously about it, recognizing myself. How about you?

Maybe you recognized yourself in these boundary issues. Why do we nonprofit people have problems with boundaries?

“Maybe people get into the compassion business full-time not because they’re more compassionate than others but because they’re codependent. Maybe the driving force is really inverted narcissism — an unhealthy and unexamined addiction to care-taking or to self-neglect.” -Dan Pallotta, “Nonprofit Pathology”

There are so many ways we can have boundaries and define them for ourselves and others.

But one of the key ways I see us having bad boundaries over and over again is overworking.

If you are abandoning yourself for your job and your job is eating your life, you may have boundary issues with overworking.

Here’s a post I wrote about women and workaholism in your fundraising office.


Then Sheena shared this powerful quote from Thomas Merton. “To surrender to too many demands, to commit to too many projects, means that the frenzy of the activist neutralizes his work for peace. Pervasive contemporary violence against the self is overwork.”

She shared some ways that you can start to have better boundaries at work. Some ways that you can truly lift yourself of the bad boundaries trap.

Exercise 1: Take stock of your current boundaries

Exercise 2: List 5 things you will no longer tolerate people saying around you.

Exercise 3: List 5 things you will no longer tolerate people doing to you.

(I’m skipping a lot here)

Exercise 6: Make a list of people who have violated your boundaries in the past, or whose interactions with you have made you feel uncomfortable.

Define the kind of violation and strategize ways of discussing.

Expect that it will be hard, and that people will continue to violate your boundaries.

Reinforce and discuss the violations.

But remember, just because they violate them doesn’t mean you didn’t do everything right. They are just not used to your new boundaries yet.

Sheena shared so many more incredible tips with her boundary presentation. I really cannot do it justice here. If you missed it, come back in April 2016 for our Virtual Fundraising Career Conference where she will present again!

🙂 What did you think of this post? Did you recognize yourself? Are you going to do one of these exercises today? I hope so!

Here’s something to print out for the wall:

thomas merton violence overwork
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