By Laurie Gerber, Life Coach, Executive Coach, Handel Group
You live in the information age, which means you could spend the next month just reading all the blogs ever written about the new year and still not get through them all. Your loved ones, students, and clients are able to reach you through seven different avenues at once.
Argh! There’s just no way for you to sift through all that information and get to everything you might like to get to, or others might like you to get to, in a day. This can be especially true after the holidays as you feel yourself being pulled in many directions. It can be hard to judge what is most important.
[Related: 5 Tips to Improve Focus and Get Things Done]
However, instead of making these hard choices, most of you try to avoid deciding altogether and just say “yes” to everything. Unfortunately, someone will always pay the price in the long run, there is no free ride. If you do say “yes” to too many things, you will eventually destroy your health, fail at many of the things to which you’ve said yes, get into trouble, lose that responsibility (and someone’s trust), or blow up at the people whom you perceive to be in control of your time.
But, in actuality, you are in control of your time, and your relationship with time is one of the most important relationships of your entire life. Time is the currency of your life: it’s all you’ve got to play with when figuring out what impact you want to make. I recommend treating the process of choosing how to spend your time with a lot more sanctity, starting today. Here’s how:
Managing time isn’t easy, natural, or taught in school. However, it is something you need to master, and you probably haven’t yet.
Your relationship with time has a particular style and with that, its very own pitfalls. Write out your flavor. Here are some examples:
Decide on your most important yeses. For me, they are: excelling in my career, doing public events to greater and greater numbers of people, spending quality time with my husband and kids, exercise, and meditation. (That means I do not dedicate a ton of time to cooking, crafts, mindless internet surfing, Facebook, or socializing outside of work — though at other times in my life, those things were important yeses.)
Please note that focus areas may change as life stage does. For example, at some point, my kids will be out of the house or I may feel I’ve reached a certain level in my career. At those time, my most important yeses will change to reflect that.
Choose your profound nos. This is the toughest part and it will feel like I am asking you to change the very core of who you are, how you make friends, and how you influence people. That’s because I am. If, and only if, you want to expand what you are capable of, or your leadership capacity, you are going to have to learn to say “no”. Though, it doesn’t mean that a particular thing won’t get done. There is a world of possibility for how your goal could get accomplished some other way, or by some other person; you just aren’t thinking that way yet.
Just like those of you with clients of your own, you realize you only have time for a certain number of them. So what do you do when you’re in increasing demand? It might feel contrary to put limits on your client time, but that’s exactly what you will have to do. Here are some examples when it comes to dealing with saying “no” to certain things in your life. See if any apply to you!
These “nos” seem simple, but they are not. They force you, the no-giver, to rethink how you will achieve your desired results and call on a higher, or deeper, part of yourself. That’s so powerful. Also, in the act of saying “no”, you recalibrate how others see you and how you see yourself. You have become more of an “author” in your life, and because of that, the things you’ve said “yes” to now hold more significance. When you can focus fully on being excellent at your “yeses”, your fear about the “nos” fades away. As long as you set things up well when you say goodbye (“no”), you can expect cascades of pride about all the areas where you have rededicated yourself with a strong and profound “yes.” Don’t believe me? Try it!
Originally published in Ellevate.
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