The Build with Boundaries Story

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Mahnaz Sharif

My story starts when I was on maternity leave, just after my youngest was born. Nobody understood quite how intense and deep my desire was to NOT return to work. If I wanted to make a different career choice, there was a huge amount of pressure to find something that paid just as well – my husband and I had always shared the financial burden so this was a tough ask!

Nothing materialised to fill the gap I needed, so off I went back to work.

For many years I spent my time rushing about, being there for my kids, my husband, doing all the things at home, visiting my parents and in laws (regularly involving a fair amount of travel). There was literally no time for me and I always seemed to come last.

Being of Asian heritage, strong family values were ingrained in me. This meant there was a huge desire to be there for my kids and family including my parents – whose health was not what it once was. Often, it felt like I was a “filling in a sandwich” surrounded by responsibilities to do the best I could, to be there for both my kids and parents.

Then my mother’s health deteriorated with a devastating pancreatic cancer diagnosis. What followed was my grief journey, it literally began from the day I heard the news from the consultant – I still remember feeling numb from the echo of his words.

Physically, I was robotic – on autopilot, doing all the things – working, rushing for school pick-ups, cooking, cleaning, looking after my kids, spending time with everybody – but myself. I was helping with my mothers’ chemo trips and later helping care for her at home, where she was at peace. Mentally I was utterly exhausted. Emotionally, I was heartbroken beyond belief. Sadly my mother passed away exactly 10 months to the day we were given her cancer diagnosis.

Having taken some time off work – once again, I found myself in the same position as many years earlier – with an impending return to work. This time my life had been turned upside down, I had lost my Mother. My heart wasn’t in anything and I wanted to quit my job BUT I also knew financial circumstances were changing for us and the “one day” that my husband and I had planned (since forever) – where I could leave my corporate career – was coming soon. There was light at the end of the tunnel, I just had to be patient and hang in there for a while longer – for my family.

As the day I could finally quit came on the horizon – for the first time (as a Mum) I now had permission to ask myself “What do I want?” So I pondered on this and decided to set up a side hustle – something just for me. Little did I know that all the learnings over the next 4 years (as a solopreneur) would be priceless. I worked hard, harder than I’d ever worked before. More hours than I’d worked in my corporate career because there was an insatiable desire to make this a success BUT something was missing. Being a natural problem solver I was constantly searching for the missing piece of the jigsaw puzzle to grow my business.

This was an incredibly challenging and frustrating time. I had to make it work. I had no excuses now that I could give it my time, energy and focus!

Then came a catalyst for change, COVID-19 and lock-down. Sat at my dining table with my husband working from home and 2 kids (schooling online) – I had a hundred interruptions a day and constant distractions… my work didn’t feel like it should be a priority. After all it wasn’t paying the bills anyway. So why was I working so hard?

I had a moment of realisation how my mother had always done everything for everyone. Then it hit me. I saw a reflection of myself in her – I did not want to grow old and live with regret.

My dear mother was always there for her children, family and friends. The most amazing supportive mother, but nobody, including herself had ever asked “What about me?”  “What do I want to do in my life?” In fact my very wise, knowledgable and hard working father was an amazing role model! He worked super hard all of his life, working 6 days a week with a young family. We saw him on a Sunday when he was absolutely exhausted. He not only provided for his family, was responsible for sending all his children to University – an education and degree was mandatory because he never had this opportunity!

So why was I working so hard?

I knew the answer now – like my parents, I also wanted more for my kids!

Just as my parents committed themselves to creating a better future for us than they had – I wanted my kids to experience the same level of generational change. I was also searching for fulfillment and had an inner knowing I was meant for more, to be more than a good Mum, wife and daughter and help create positive change in this world – however I could.

Surely my problem solving background (Mathematics degree & 20 years working as an analyst) plus all the vital life learnings that got me here, could help others?

BUT… first I had to overcome my own conditioning of overworking and break the cycle I had been trapped in – believing I had to choose between being there for my family AND success. Whenever doubt crept in, I asked myself… “why not me?” and “If not now, then when?

It all started when I gave myself permission to prioritise this in my life.

My current business was not fulfilling – it had not created the impact I wanted, nor was it sustainable. This is when I set my intention to change my business and use my skills and experience to help others, as a business mentor – dedicate myself to helping create positive change that allowed Mums to follow their dreams and avoid mistakes I made.

Family always came first for me so I had to work around this. I decided the only way was to take control, set boundaries to grow a new sustainable business around my life. Because if I didn’t do that now, I’d look back and wonder “what if…?”

All the learnings and working “extra hard” got me here but now it was time to change this – break the addictive cycle I was in – so that I could cheerlead other Mums to grow their sustainable business with the right boundaries.


to help Women give life to the identity

they secretly dream of!

Now my mission is to help other women do the same for themselves… create an identity that meets their soul desire.

Because I was addicted to working, working longer & harder than ever – it was tough to cut everything back. Here are 5 key things that I had to shift:

  1. reduce my working time, set boundaries that allowed me time away from the business
  2. become intentional with where I wanted to take my business
  3. follow my purpose but at the same time enjoy the journey in building a sustainable business
  4. be laser focused in what I was working on day to day so I was working on the “right stuff”
  5. up my self care to allow me to:
  • simply get through lockdown
  • be fully present for my family and kids
  • show up for my business the way I wanted to

Permission + Priorities + Productivity

My Success Formula

After all this work, finally I had a healthy balance and felt much more at peace. Learning how to be laser focused and highly productive with my time & energy was essential in creating a sustainable business. I now work four days a week and have given myself permission to be who I truly am and do more of the things that light me up!

Are you ready to prioritise your ambition so you can achieve the incredible success you secretly desire – for more fulfillment and impact?

My success

Permission + Priorities + Productivity

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If you feel like you are sacrificing your future growth because you are struggling to create any sort of harmony in home life – I invite you to a conversation, let’s talk