To me, life is one big cafeteria line. And it all looks good! When presented with requests for my time, I often hear myself responding, “Yes, I’d be delighted to do that!” But just as we can get to the end of the line with too much on our plates, I have sometimes found myself loaded down with more responsibilities than I could handle well. And it was my own fault.
Have you been there? If so, you know the feeling. You say “Yes” to something without fully thinking it through. It takes more time and energy than you anticipated. You end up feeling frustrated, secretly resentful, and too zapped for the things that really are important to you. And when it’s all over, you regret your choice.
You’ve lost time you can’t get back! Time you could’ve spent on higher priorities like your personal goals, building your business and especially spending time with your family.
I’ve been saying “Yes” to Less lately. And the result is greater freedom, joy and room to focus on the things I actually feel called to do.
So if you’re truly ready to stop living in a constant state of overwhelm, do this:
- Give yourself permission to stop trying to do it all. Realize that everything you say “Yes” to means you’re saying “No” to something else…something that might be higher on your priority list.
- Let “No” be your first response… until you’ve had time to consider the cost. Rarely say “Yes” on the spot, unless you are double-dog sure it’s something to which you want to commit. Instead say, “Thank you for thinking of me. I’ll think it over and get back with you by Monday.”
- Say “No”, not just to others, but also to yourself. In other words, say “No” to hours of TV or social media or other non-profitable drains on your time.
One of the things that stops us from saying “No” is not knowing how to say it, especially to friends we love. And by the way, I’m not talking about saying “No” in a mean way (after all, it’s a compliment to be asked to do something!), but saying “No” strategically, deliberately and with kindness. Here is a simple formula for saying “No” with grace and elegance.
“Thanks so much for thinking of me. I’m going to say ‘No’, but please know how honored I am to be asked. “
“That sounds like a wonderful project, but I am going to pass. Thank you so much for thinking of me. I wish you the best with your project!”
Now, what often happens next is something like this:
“Oh, but you’d be PERFECT for this position/job, etc.! The nominating committee was talking and everyone agreed, we just don’t think we can do it without you!”
My friend, do not cave. Do not say how stressed you are, or how your husband doesn’t want you to take more on right now, or how on second thought maybe you could fit it in your schedule. Just say this:
“I’d rather not, but thank you so much for thinking of me.”
Why is this so important?
Because saying “Yes” to too much leaves us exhausted, resentful and overwhelmed. And besides the fact that it’s no fun to feel that way, you can’t do your best work or make your highest contribution to the things to which you are truly called.
But when you say “Yes” to Less, you get more time, margin, freedom, creativity and energy to devote to the things you love.
I believe in honoring commitments. But moving forward, let me ask you: what pending invitation do you need to decline? Leave a comment…I’d really like to know. And if you have a friend or loved one who is feeling tired and overwhelmed with too much on her plate, please pass this along. I wish you freedom, joy and energy as you tackle the things you value most!