Do you regularly take on too much? Are you in the habit of saying ‘yes’ when what you really mean is ‘no’?
Most of us want to be ‘people pleasers’ – we want to say yes to the kids, to our partners, to our clients or employers, to our friends and families – in fact often we don’t even feel that we have any option but to say yes.
You might have even been told that it’s a good thing to say ‘yes’ and then see what happens – be positive, be open, agree to everything and new opportunities will flood your way. Well, in certain circumstances I agree that ‘coming from a place of yes’ can be a great thing, but when it means you’re regularly over-committing yourself, and putting your own health and wellbeing at risk, then it’s time to take a step back and break the habit.
Yes, it’s obvious, but get your priorities in order. What really matters to you? When someone asks you to commit to something it’s often important to them and right at the top of their priority list, but is it at the top of yours? Should you squeeze it into an already packed schedule? Can it wait? Ask yourself this, if I don’t do this one thing, will the world stop turning? Will anyone come to any harm? Why is it important to me?
Remember it’s fine to have different priorities to others, that’s life, but never feel forced to take on board their priority list as yours – we all have enough to do without taking on extra stuff that is inconsequential to you in the big scheme of things.
Check your schedule, how much free time have you pencilled in for the next month? How many weekends do you have completely free? After a difficult month last December, when coming up to Christmas we completely overbooked ourselves as a family, and then tried to please other’s by fitting things in that they wanted us to do on the only free time we had (by the time Christmas came, we were pretty much wiped out, cranky and I was completely annoyed at myself for allowing it to happen) we learned a lesson and we now have at least every other weekend kept free for our family, and with the exception of the kids’ Saturday morning classes, we don’t commit to anything else unless we see fit.
Having something as a focal point often really brings home to you exactly how busy you are. I love a list, a diary or a calendar and I have them dotted around the house. They serve as a useful reminder of all of the commitments we already have right there in front of us. Something like a list, or a white board, is a physical, tangible thing and can seem much more real than just using your phone when you’re trying to see exactly what you have going on.
Other people’s expectations are just that – their own and they are entitled to them, but you really don’t need to take them on-board. This also means you really don’t owe anyone an explanation as to why you can’t do something – you don’t need to reel off your schedule for the next month so that you can say ‘no’ to the thing they want you to commit to. A simple, polite ‘no’ is sufficient – you really don’t owe anyone a reason why. Remember that their expectations do not need to be yours. (If it’s your boss or a client that is putting pressure on you to take something on, don’t immediately say yes or no – tell them you need time to think, process, look at your schedule and see if it’s possible and then discuss and negotiate with them a realistic timescale to do it, or explain to them honestly why you can’t take this on right now).
PRACTICE SAYING ‘NO’
Let’s face it, we quite often really don’t want to use that terrible two letter word ‘no’. We’re scared of offending people, upsetting people or maybe even getting into trouble – but keep in mind that we are quite within our rights to use that word as we see fit! If you really don’t like using the word no, practice on your partner or friends – talk through your decision with them so that you don’t feel the need to over-talk when it comes to telling the person involved.
STOP FEELING GUILTY
We feel guilty about so much but keep in mind that if you are unhappy, unhealthy or struggling in any way then no one gets the best of you. You are entitled to time for you. You are entitled to make the decisions that are best for you and your circumstances. Don’t carry the guilt of other people’s expectations with you.