Recently, I had to teach myself a new word. OK, I’m exaggerating – it wasn’t a ‘new’ new word, but more of a word that I was not used to using! It wasn’t a long or particularly eloquent word, but it’s one that holds a lot of power nonetheless. The word was NO (and it turns out it’s just as uncomfortable for me to write as it is to say!).
Hold up! Before you think I’ve gone and turned over a new, sourpuss leaf, allow me to explain! As most of you will know by now, I’m a happy-go-lucky kinda gal and really enjoy helping people – whether it’s supporting my closest friends or even people I don’t know so well. If there’s something I can do, I will always try to help. It’s something that’s in my DNA, and I don’t think anything could ever make that side of my personality disappear – and I wouldn’t want it to!
On top of that, there’s also the fun stuff, the things you want to get involved in and the opportunities that can develop you and your skills. They’re important too, and often don’t feel like work because you’re enjoying yourself – but they still take up time and energy.
Lately, I found myself saying yes to a lot of things. A ridiculous amount of things, in fact! It was almost as though I had lost the idea of time and was starting to see what people meant by saying there weren’t enough hours in the day. Eek! So I did what I think is crucial in that kind of situation and took a step back and looked hard at what had become my standard routine.
I quickly realised that I was spreading myself WAY too thin and that this was not the way I wanted to go about my business, or my life in general! I thought about why this was, and the main factor was that I had become unable to say no to people. Simple, but true! This in turn made me think about reasons why it’s OK to say no sometimes and the positive effects that it can bring (really!). Today, I’d love to share a few of these thoughts with you…
First things first – remember that saying no to some things does not make you a negative person! It’s important to say yes and embrace new experiences, that’s what makes life so wonderful. At the same time, saying no to specific requests or ‘opting out’ doesn’t make you the world’s biggest party pooper. It actually shows that you care, which brings me to my next point…
Give people the best of you. If you say yes to everything that is going, the inadvertent result will be that you will give less of an effort to the things that deserve your focus. If people ask for your help, or request your input into something, they are asking you because they admire your ability. If you’re trying to spin all the plates at the same time, it’s possible that you won’t dedicate the time or attention that you normally would and this might result in your own standards slipping, or the temptation to cut a few corners here or there. It’s not a situation I would want to find myself in, would you?
Prioritise your tasks and make lists. Taking a few moments to look at your to-do list will help you understand if you’re taking on too much at once and if you are overdoing it, put the list into order of importance. Ask yourself why each item is on the list and how it makes you feel. Is there anything on there that doesn’t need to be? This will help you to understand which tasks are more important.
Make self-care a permanent fixture in your plans. In order to truly give people our best, we need to FEEL our best. If you’re being offered a seat at the table, show up feeling energised and bubbling with those great ideas that you’re known for! The best way to do that is to make sure we are exercising self-care – that time where you rest and let your body and mind recharge. If you’re sitting up at 3am replying to emails (and due to get up again at 6am!), I would guess that you aren’t looking after yourself so much. Taking that time might mean that we need to drop one or two of the lower priority things that we were thinking of doing, but think of it as an investment.
Pleasure vs pressure. I have always stood by the firm opinion that life should be filled with joy. A little bit of pressure (like a deadline, for example) is OK now and then but constantly feeling like you’re swimming against the current is no way to live! Enjoy what you do, and push yourself forward, but make sure you have space to breathe and enjoy the journey too!
One of Dr Suess’ (many) quotes is, “life’s a great balancing act” – and I think that has really resonated with me recently. It’s all about balance. Make time for others, but also time for yourself. Say yes and know when to say no. By doing so, you’ll give the important things your best shot and let others get the best of you.
As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, too! Have you ever spread yourself too thin? How easy is the balance for you?
Miss West End Girl x