As a people-pleaser and an empath, I have long struggled with creating healthy boundaries. Give me the choice of helping someone else achieve their goals, redo their wardrobe, road trip to Alaska, and I’m likely in. You see, I like to be helpful. I like to be social. I like to learn and listen. Mostly good things. But at times, all of this YES energy can prevent me from making progress on my own goals + dreams, as I find myself filling my days with anything but my own to-dos. A martyr’s form of procrastination, if you will.
On a mission to make my life a bit more productive + purposeful, while still being true to my own compassionate and helpful being, I put a few practices in place to return to as I’m pondering a new request. These five tips prevent me from being overcommitted while continuing to find space to make the most of each day.
Take a pause to consider my response.
Giving myself a break to think about the ask has made all the difference in saying yes or no. With a little time and space, I can really think through the request and understand if it is something I truly want to do, or something I feel compelled to do. If it’s the latter, this pause helps me to get to no and offer alternative solutions.
Make sure I understand the FULL commitment.
Closely related to the first tip, I may need to ask more questions before I can commit. Understanding whether a request is truly an hour of advice or actually the first of many problem-solving sessions, and what the deliverables are, ensures I’m not signing up for something I can’t actually follow all the way through.
Revisit my goals before committing.
This has been the single biggest game changer. Looking at my time as finite, and viewing my goals + priorities alongside the request of others, helps me to make sure I’m not saying YES to others while saying NO to my own growth and goals. Before starting this, the things I want time for daily—writing, painting, and working out—were far too inconsistent. Now, I build these into my schedule weekly, knowing that with dedicated time to take care of me, I have a bit more space and grace to be of use to others.
Articulate the WHY I am considering saying YES.
Does it fit with my purpose? Is the person or organization making the request dear to me? Can my skills uniquely solve the problem that others can’t? If I can’t answer YES easily to any of these questions, it’s a guaranteed NO.
Identify what I’m giving up if I say YES to this.
Measuring my yes in terms of what I’m sacrificing (time, another project, a studio day) keeps me honest in what I can actually accomplish in any given day, week, or month.
These steps have helped me to find a healthier balance in my days. I’m still as overcommitted as ever, but I’m saying YES to more fulfilling and focused projects, friends, and requests. Tell me, what helps you to just say no?