My Own Worst Enemy: When the Boss Makes Life Difficult, But You Work for Yourself

In September 2020 I penned an article entitled Battling Burnout as a Grant Professional where I shared several resources to help overcome the struggle. My number one suggestion was communication and transparency with your supervisor, because if you are not open and honest with your struggles, how can they be expected to improve the situation? A good boss can ease the burden, help determine the priorities, remove the “extras” that aren’t necessary to meet your organization’s mission, and so much more.


But what do you do if the boss keeps piling onto your “to do list” with no thought about how many hours there are in the day? What do you do if the boss in that scenario is you? Yes, I’m looking at you consultant who decided to build your own business, be your own boss. Essentially, I am looking in the mirror. And the bags under my eyes are nobody’s fault but my own.


I am the type of individual who does not like to say “no” to a project that sounds interesting, will allow me to work with a friend, will expand my knowledge, look good on a resume, or prepare me for the next great thing down the line. That’s how I ended up finding myself looking at my calendar each week in January, February, March, and, well you get the point…saying, “If I can just get through this week, things will slow down.” Oh the lies we tell ourselves to make it through the day, because dear reader, slow down it did not.


Here’s what I said yes to over the course of four months, all of which culminated in a moment where I was ready to blow: co-chairing a conference, speaking at three different events (which included creation of new material), traveling and teaching for a training company, submitting workshop proposals for a national conference, serving as a grant reviewer, and penning several articles. It was a lot, all at once.


And this was on top of my part-time job at a consulting firm, my own small (but mighty) consulting work, podcasting, and GPA Board work. And let’s not forget family and home responsibilities. Please do not take this as complaining, because I am not. I LOVE the work I do, and I love the opportunities that presented themselves to me so far this year. I consider myself honored to have the ability to take part in each and every one of those opportunities.


But what I did not stop to think about was while everything on that list was fulfilling, good for my career, and something I found pleasure doing – I said yes to so much extra work in a very short amount of time. That meant working nights and weekends, rather than giving myself much needed down time with my sweet family.


As I was reading Jess Pettit’s book “Good Enough Now” in preparation for our interview with her on the Fundraising HayDay podcast it hit me – being my own boss doesn’t mean I have the best boss ever if I am always saying yes to everything but not stopping and thinking about what saying yes means in terms of time, commitment, and stress on my life. I had the pleasure of sharing this “aha” moment with Jess and my cohost, Kimberly, during our interview and it didn’t take me long to realize that I am a people pleaser and hate to tell people no. You can listen to my revelation here: Good Enough Now (


But truth be told, I don’t have to please anyone to be good enough now. And if I want to be a good boss to myself, I needed to realize that. More than avoiding burnout, I want to continue to love this career of ours, and sometimes that means saying no to things, even if I’d love to do it. I’ve decided to be my own best boss, do a better job of managing my time, and selectively choosing the extras that I take on each month. And right now, that’s good enough for me.


DH Leonard Consulting & Grant Writing Services, LLC is so excited to be season 5 sponsors for Fundraising HayDay, a podcast about grants and such. Catch up on seasons 1 – 4 and stay up to date on the new season here.

Don’t let grants stress you out, check out the helpful grant writing services our team has to offer here.

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