We go to great lengths to prove our uniqueness. Writing letters, doing interviews, submitting personality assessments, preparing take home assignments, kissing their asses, basically trying to prove to these strangers that our souls are worthy. But the question is, at what point do we set boundaries on our generosity? When do we put a cap on the amount of free labor that we offer someone? It’s hard to tell. There is a very fine line between an opportunity, and an opportunity to be used. The best we can hope for is a combination of internal affirmation and external limitation.
LABOR LIMIT — Setting boundaries on your generosity of providing unpaid service
First, we learn to trust that we are good enough and that we don’t have to spend our life proving that we are. We also remind ourselves that this exciting new opportunity is not going to save us or make us whole or set us free. And we have faith that our worthiness does not rise and fall with the number of rejections we receive along the way. Second, we relax into the freedom of specific, airtight boundaries on our effort. We decide ahead of time exactly how much time we are going to dedicate to this project. And should we reach the point where it’s midnight and we’re still staring at the computer wondering to ourselves, why are you killing yourself for these people, we stop.
Here’s the closing sentence for a job application that recently appeared in my inbox. Thirsty for blood and hungry for a chance to prove yourself? You could be the one we’re looking for. This kind of invitation is temping. Because it triggers our pleaser pattern. The one that tries to keep us safe by making sure that everyone approves of us. And especially if we’re unemployed and short on cash and running out of time, we are especially vulnerable to its powers. An offer like this can get us chomping at the bit, grinning to ourselves, wait until they get a load of me.
Just because you’re thirsty for blood doesn’t mean you have to bite. Are you trying to sell your soul to the devil just to see if god is real?
Lower the probability of career burnout
Decrease your dependency on external validation
Demonstrate strong professional integrity to potential clients and buyers
Reduce the likelihood of people taking advantage of your time and talents