Over the last couple of years I have come to the realization that I have a really hard time saying no! I do not like to feel like I am letting people down, or not pulling my own weight, or causing someone else to be inconvenienced. I also came to the realization that saying yes to too many things meant that I was spreading myself thin in a way that left me feeling stressed out and caused me to be unable to give ANYTHING my full attention or care. Ultimately I wasn’t really being helpful to anyone, including myself.
I decided it was time to start being more deliberate in what I said yes to and what I said no to. It was really hard at first to set boundaries at work and at home, and limit my volunteer time with the kids’ school, PTO, church, etc. The hard part was not the reaction I got from others though, it was mostly in my head … my own self-imposed guilt!
I work part time in my legal job and since starting my coaching practice I’ve had to be more intentional with planning the specific hours I will (and will not) be available to that job. I was afraid of letting my boss down by not being as flexible with my time and ability to work several extra hours when needed. It took me a while to get the courage to talk with her about it, but the fall out and disappointments were all in my head! My boss was so supportive of the boundaries I had to draw around my “free” time and respected me for being upfront and realistic about how much extra time I had to devote to tasks. We now are more conscious to plan ahead when there is a need for me to spend extra time on a project and I feel more productive and efficient because I have drawn boundaries around the time I am spending on that job v. my coaching practice.
Personal commitments outside of work have also been hard for me to say no to. Since my kids were babies I have dipped my foot (at times a little too deep) into the volunteer pool. And when it came to social commitments I had serious FOMO (fear of missing out) so I said yes to everything! I had gotten to a point where I wasn’t giving anything or anyone the attention they truly deserved. And even worse, I was starting to resent volunteer commitments and dread certain social interactions .
I felt frustrated, annoyed and tired! I knew I needed to restructure how I was spending my time and ultimately I had to decide what I wanted to say yes to so I could know what I should say no to!
After a little soul searching I decided I would finish out certain commitments but politely let someone else take over those things that were no longer a fit for me so I could focus more quality time on the things that did fit. I also stopped saying yes to social events that felt like obligations rather than gifts of time with friends and family. I definitely still had that pukey feeling that I was letting people down but the most remarkable thing happened.
And while I am sure there were some people with their panties in a bunch that I walked away from certain things, the overwhelming reaction I got from my fellow moms was “good for you!” I even had an acquaintance tell me that when she saw me setting boundaries around what I do and do not have the ability to be involved in, it helped her to do the same!
I am happier now and I can actually give people and activities the attention and joy they require because I have stopped saying yes to everything. The takeaway – when you say no to something you open up space to say yes to something else ... even if that thing is a greater sense of calm and fulfillment! Figure out what fits for YOU in YOUR LIFE and do more of that!
Hi, I'm Tina! Life Coach, Mom and Lawyer who loves small furry dogs and big glasses of wine and knows that increasing your self awareness and connecting with your purpose can be an interesting (and sometimes challenging) journey. That's why I'm here to help!!