Learning to say no (because you can't do it all)

Something happened to me last year. I think I went crazy. I started saying yes every time someone asked me to do something. I said yes to every volunteer event, committee, party, obligation and "opportunity" that came my way. It was like I lost the ability to say no. 

Sigh. Then I found myself stressed out, exhausted, moody (okay, okay, moodier than usual... which is REALLY saying something) and dreading everything I had said yes to. 

Isn't that a sign? When you agree to do something and then immediately begin to dread when the time comes to do it? In fact, in the book "The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions the Midst of Endless Demands" Lysa TerKeurst says this is a pretty clear sign you are not supposed to be doing whatever it is you agreed to do. 

Of course, there are some areas of life we have to say yes to and still don't enjoy. I don't look forward to taking my kids to the dentist because I am not a crazy person. This, however, is something I do anyway because it needs to be done. 

But there are some things we are just meant to say no to because we do not have the time, energy or mental bandwidth. 

I think as women we struggle with "but if" syndrome. But if I don't say yes who will do it? But if I don't agree to head this committee, things won't get done? But if I don't do it no one else will?

I've talked to my husband at length about this and he said he never lies in bed at  night worrying that there will not be enough volunteers to take on whatever task it is I am worried about. 

"I do what I can and I don't really worry about the rest," he told me. 

So that's kind of become my new attitude. I do what I can because I can't do it all. This has been way harder than I thought it would be. 

Have you ever heard of the 80/20 rule? That in any organization or business 20 percent of the people do 80 percent of the work? That means if you say no the person who asked you to take on a responsibility will just have to go ask one of the other 80 percent to take on their share. 

If you don't do it someone else will have to take over the responsibility. If it's important enough, believe me, someone will do it. 

Now I am not saying to say no to everything. I am saying to be choosier about the things you are saying yes to. Maybe this school year you agree to join ONE committee or volunteer at ONE event or teach ONE class. 

Think about all the other things you have to juggle: work, home, kids, marriage, social activities and YOUR HEALTH. When you throw one more thing on that pile, if it's not fully balanced, it might topple over. 

It seems the first thing we sacrifice is self-care, sleep and downtime. These are things you need in order to function fully and care for others. 

And remember, no is a complete sentence that requires no further explanation. Practice saying it out loud. IF you want to use a little more tact you can say something like "I've considered the role you've asked me to take and right now is just not a good time for me to take on any more responsibilities." 

And stand firm against guilt. There are those out there who, even though you said no, will try to push you into changing your mind. Don't be swayed. Remember why you said no to begin with and go about your business. 

So give yourself permission to say no more. It may be hard at first but it will get easier. 

What about you? What are you saying no to?