What If: I Learned How to Say No?

June 30, 2010

I am an overachiever.

I have been an overachiever for as long as I can remember, and that, coupled with my constant need to people-please, has left me on many, many occasions over-extended, stressed out, and needlessly overwhelmed. Sound familiar? Keep reading.

I like to add things to my plate. I won’t lie, I’m the type of girl who puts unnecessary items on her to do lists, blowing tasks completely out of proportion, because I can, and I will do better next time. And while this has served me fairly well throughout the course of my life, allowing me to accomplish huge daunting tasks and work to the 175% of my abilities – it has left me TIRED.

Yesterday, I was offered a position [which I had applied for] that I really, truly wanted. One that would have been great for my “career” and in building connections and networks, but one that would have had me officially working 80 hours a week – not including Medicinal Marzipan or my budding hoop store. I had to say no.

Now, saying no is not something I’m very good at. I’m the queen of I’ll try or I’ll do my best or Sure! I can fit it in!, but never a flat out no, even when what I really mean by saying all of those aforementioned phrases is: not a chance in hell. I have been known to sacrifice sleep and personal sanity on at least a tri-weekly basis trying to fit it all in. I’m not saying this to receive any type of praise for my hard work, however, and mention it instead with the warning: this is not a good way to live.

We all need to remember to value our time AND our sanity, and sometime [quite often] this requires learning the art of saying no sweetly and without belittling ourselves or our already bursting-at-the-seams schedule. Like many people, though this blog is my absolute dream machine, it is my fourth job. Regardless of whether or not I like it better than most of my jobs [I do] or whether or not I wish I could devote all of my time to maintaining this site and publishing helpful and inspiring material [I definitely do], this blog doesn’t pay the bills – yet. And thus, I must actually go to work, you know, the work that allows me to have a house to live in and wireless for which to spend hours on the internet.

The thing about making people wait is – you really, truly, at your core, have to believe that you are worth waiting for. Value yourself! Just because you have to say no today, does not mean it is a no forever. It could very well be a: well my schedule is quite full right now, but I have some space in September and October, perhaps we could collaborate then.

Repeat after me: You are worth waiting for.

I like to tell you that we are all just doing the best that we can, and for the most part, this is so very true. We are all working hard, pushing our schedules to the max, taking care of our children, pets, spouses, partners, sisters, brothers, washing the dishes, writing posts in the wee hours of the night when everyone is sleeping, responding to emails, and the many of us, are waking up in the morning and going to our paying jobs as well. That is a lot of pressure!

We are rockstars, aren’t we?

I think so. So lets cut ourselves a little slack, and learn the ever-important lesson of saying no, when we really just cannot imagine adding one more thing – even if that one more thing is a dream come true – and instead just allowing things to unfold and praying for the best. Because, believe you me, that one door opened because you were worth it, and even if you have to decline, many, many doors are just waiting to open for you.

Do you have a hard time saying no? How to do you remedy this? How do you decide how much is too much?