Updated: Oct 1, 2018
"This is a little ways away, but after Labor Day is honestly going to work best for me. August is pretty packed already and I'm not scheduling anything else in this month," I messaged back.
In so many words, I sent her a respectful "No." I knew she would most likely pass on scheduling anything at all knowing that she would have to wait an entire month.
It was the second No I handed out the first week of this month following my mini-breakdown and newfound hate for balance.
When everything was calm and still, it felt like I had an abundance of time. I had an empty calendar that needed to be filled. And so I filled it, with networking events, coffee dates, business workshops, random service opportunities, business planning, serving on an event planning committee, Meetups, cleaning our Airbnb rooms, messaging guests, writing, and more.
Despite my already cramped schedule, I decided to try and serve on another event planning committee. And this is what broke the camel's back.
If you can't tell, I have a tendency to overcommit myself. I sign up for anything and everything that seems relevant and beneficial to whatever it is I'm pursuing at the moment. Every time I do this, however, it eventually leads to overwhelm and burn out. Based on what I have read and heard from others, I know I'm not alone in this.
So when I realized that the time commitment for this second event planning committee was significantly higher than I expected, I got stressed every time I tried to figure out how to fit it in my schedule. So stressed I had to free myself, and just say No. I had to turn around and say No despite being the one that reached out and expressed interest in serving on this committee. And it did not come with ease. I first tried to say well maybe I can commit X hours per week and provide a list of the tasks I was willing and able to help with. The stress didn't go away, it got worse. I knew deep down, the answer needed to be a hard no.
Why do we struggle so much to tell others no? People pleasing, avoidance of conflict, and fear of missing out (FOMO) are among several reasons we have such a hard time with this short, two letter word. But it's probably one of the most important words in our vocabulary, a word I need to use more often.
So I implemented a 'Yes' Ban for the month of August.
So far, this has meant telling someone that I am not available to connect in person for the next 4 weeks. I also told my husband that I was not going to commit to joining him to meet up with friends this past Sunday evening at a festival. Even when he looked at me and said, "I didn't realize that applied to me," I reaffirmed that I'm not committing to anything else this month and I'm doing this guilt free. We could play it by ear, but I knew that I would very likely not want to go do this thing when Sunday evening came.
Caveat – When I implemented the 'Yes' ban I was willing to make exceptions for meetings with my business advisor and meetings where my absence would mean neglecting a major responsibility.
Anything else, it would be a No.
I started making some Energy Budget Cuts.
C over at Driftyness gets the credit for this one, I stole the term from her.
I compiled a list of all my current commitments and responsibilities. For the items that I no longer wish to be responsible for, that don't have a clear end date, I put one. This means making tough choices like deciding to move forward with finding a new home for our 2 dogs. For the items that I don't intend to take off my plate, like Airbnb for example, I jotted down solutions to make these items less time-consuming.
I deactivated and deleted my Facebook and GroupMe accounts. I turned off almost all notifications on my phone, only allowing phone calls and the Airbnb app to alert me in the moment.
And after a moment of clarity, I decided to stop trying to build two businesses at the same time, and picked just one. The one that was most in alignment with my core value of Freedom.
And then I....
Put a filter on it.
Moving forward, all further commitments are filtered through and must pass this 4 question test in order for me to say Yes.
What purpose does this serve?
How does this contribute to me achieving my goals or living the life I want to live?
What problems will I invite into my life by doing this?
Does committing to this violate any of my core values?
If it's not a Definite, Hard Yes after answering these questions, then it's a No from me. This isn't an easy task. It requires slowing down in order to be intentional about every single decision. And it means potentially dealing with conflict when telling others No. However, I'm learning that respect often follows us when we use this word.
"Half of the troubles of this life can be traced to saying yes too quickly and not saying no soon enough." - Josh Billings
So Friends, what has been your experience in learning to say No? What criteria do you use to determine whether you should commit to something?
Until Next Time,