Are you quick to prioritize when things change in your life? If you add something, do you drop something?

If you do, I envy your life skills.

How to grow by saying no

Overworked and overworked

Turns out, my 5K training start coincided with a sudden doubling of work at my job.

I marched on with the first week, ignoring the fact that maybe… just maybe, there was not enough time in the week to do everything.

I juggled it all: work, running, yoga, pole dancing, blogging, housekeeping, yard work, online courses, my novel, cooking dinners. My head filled to the brim. By the start of last week, when asked a simple question, my brain would go fuzzy trying to add just one more thing to the load. Every time I had to stay at work later than expected or got called in early, I pushed back tears. After crying at home for the second day in a row, I pulled out pen and paper.

I wrote down all my activities and laughed as I saw the source of my struggles.

The list was simply too long. I sorted my activities into 3 categories.

Divide activities into 3 categories

  1. Things you are NOT willing to give up
  2. Things you could give up
  3. Things you are willing to give up

I judged not just time required, but also the mental effort and the emotions attached to it.

I texted The Husband for his help. He arrived home with a suggested list of priorities that perfectly matched mine. He cited my long-term goals in his selection process. The things on this list were going to help me qualify for the Boston Marathon and to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail.

How to Grow by Saying no

How to grow by saying no

I feared missing out on things that were inherently “good for me”. But as I sorted, that fear went away. I wasn’t saying NO to all those great activities. I wasn’t saying no to writing a novel and one day publishing my work… I was saying YES.

I was saying yes to running, yes to Boston qualifying, yes to chasing my dreams.

I was saying yes to being accountable and dependable at work, being a good coworker, and having the emotional capacity to handle the challenges that occur every single day.

I was saying yes to cradling this blog in my arms and working to make it grow and expand. Yes to crafting words and maybe touching someone, helping someone.

Those yeses and nos created space in my life, my mind, and my heart. Decisions became easier. The mere label of “good” was no longer the deciding criteria in whether something took up space in my life. And my life became less of “How do I fit it all in?” and more of, “How do I improve in these areas?”. Now, I’m looking forward to growth.

It’s OK to say no to wonderful things. And, you don’t have to say no forever. There are times when you may even say no to running, to one more race, to exercising 3-4 times a week, to free up your mind and life for other wonderful things. And that’s OK.

You’re still a runner.

There is a season for everything.

Further reading:

  1. Business Insider: The Most Successful Creative People Constantly Say ‘No’
  2. NY Times: Saying No, so You Can Say Yes when It Matters
  3. LifeHacker: Prioritize Your Goals with Warren Buffett’s Two-List System

Are you quick to prioritize when things change in your life, or do you hold on as long as possible like me?