One of the biggest reasons that we do not have time for ourselves is that we say yes to other people and take on commitments that we really do not enjoy. Often, it stems from a place of not wanting to disappoint these other people. Learn how to set healthy boundaries and say no to others so that you are saying YES to yourself.
This past week, I was a guest on Karen Litzy’s new radio show, Healthy Wealthy & Smart (http://www.talkingalternative.com/?page_id=1057), where she highlights all the different ways to be emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually and culturally healthy. Our interview focused on time management and how you can take charge of your time and start living according to your values-based priorities. Karen particularly liked my notion of setting healthy boundaries:
Say no to others so that you can say yes to yourself.
One of the biggest reasons that we do not have time for the things that we long to do for ourselves is that we find ourselves saying yes to other people and taking on commitments that we really do not enjoy. Often, it stems from a place of not wanting to disappoint these other people. The thinking goes as follows:
“How can I say no to this person? If I don’t do what he is asking me to do, then he won’t like me. And then I won’t have any friends and I will be miserable.”
In other words, failing to set boundaries is closely tied to people pleasing. So in order to please THEM, we spend our time on activities that are not our priorities. Eventually, we feel enormous stress from the resentment and anger that we silently experience against the very people whom we are so intent on pleasing because we do not have time for ourselves.
How can you get out of this trap and begin to take charge of yourself and your time?
Just say no.
- Say no to anything that does not advance your goals.
- Say no to anything that does not align with your values.
- Say no to anything that you are not passionate about.
- And say yes to yourself.
I learned this the hard way. Years ago, when I was in transition and searching for my next steps in life (could I have used a life coach then!!!), I said yes to every project that anyone proposed to me. My theory was that eventually, I would figure out what I liked. I found myself running to meetings at 8:00 am to discuss issues that did not excite me, heading up projects that did not speak to me, joining organizations whose mission was not on point for me—and feeling stressed out, exhausted and mightily resentful. After doing a few rounds of this, I then found myself looking for ways to get out of these commitments. This also felt highly uncomfortable because I value my professionalism and strive to do a great job at anything that I do.
I learned that it is much easier to pause and think carefully before taking on a new project. Instead of saying yes automatically the minute someone asks you to do something, hit “pause” and check in with your inner compass to see how this new commitment aligns with what you love and how important it is to you. Then imagine how you will feel if you were to say yes.
And when you do say yes, limit what you take on, to experiment with one thing at a time so that you can do your best and extract the learning from the experience.
Now, most of the time (because no one is perfect!), I think carefully before I say yes to anything new. I reflect on how a particular project might advance my goals, what I might learn from the project, how it aligns with my values and whether I feel passionate about it. If not, I say no. Politely. Without apology.
Because when I say no, there is no need to say that I am sorry. I am not sorry. I am saying yes to myself. And learning how to set those boundaries has helped me to achieve my version of authentic success.
© Astrid Baumgardner 2010