I used to give everything to everybody. I would over-commit, work around the clock, stretch myself too thin, while, of course, being in a great mood! I had no boundaries whatsoever. I was worn out; felt used and unappreciated; just, empty. After all, I was brought up to give until it hurts. And I did. It was only a couple years ago that I learned how to say “yes, with conditions”. I learned that the choice was mine and that not doing everything, didn’t make me a bad person. I learned that I could give enough to be successful, without giving so much that I had nothing left for the next thing.
As a proposal professional, it’s expected that you’ll meet your deadlines, do your best work, work with many different personalities, and deal with the day-to-day pressures of managing a large project. But you should also expect that your role will be defined, you’ll understand the strategy and the client’s needs, and you’ll know what is expected of you so that you can plan your life accordingly. We joke about all-nighters and we all have war stories about working 7 days a week for 30 days straight to deliver a first class proposal. But if that’s what is expected of you, it’s no joke. It is your responsibility to set the expectations.
Setting boundaries and guidelines around what you are willing and not willing to do is not only healthy, but empowering. Having the information you need to do your best work isn’t a privilege, it’s a right. If your boss or your client asks you to do a job without also providing the context you need to do your best work, ask for it. This will not only let them know that you are interested in meeting their needs, but that you want to provide them with your best work. You’ll minimize your stress, maximize your performance, and earn their respect.