When I posted this on Facebook last week, the response was immediate:
I’m not sure how this became The Year Of Saying No. I certainly didn’t make a New Year’s Resolution or anything. They’re futile. Or rather, the idea of me sticking to anything I resolve to do while in a deep state of Christmas Holiday relaxation is futile.
Perhaps it was simply a reaction to the way last year ended for me. I found myself limping to the finish line of 2013, drained and spent. A bunch of commitments I’d said yes to at various times throughout the year came to a head during September, October and November in a clusterfuck of epic proportions.
I was on a plane every week, sometimes twice a week. I had speaking engagements, client presentations, charity gigs, MC gigs, media commitments on top of my day job as a digital publisher and my 24/7 job as a mother of three kids.
DISCLAIMER: I’m not suggesting you send me flowers. I’m not hearing violins as I type this. I am perfectly aware that there are many people worse off than me who have to deal with far harsher and less temporary circumstances. I’m just giving some context (me? defensive?).
What had I been thinking when I’d said yes to so many people? Some of the commitments were not negotiable, but many of them were. I could have said no. But I didn’t because like so many women, I am inherently a people-pleaser.
If you too are a people-pleaser, the following scenario will be familiar to you:
1. Someone asks you to do something. You do not know this person very well. There is not much in this for you. Saying yes will cost you valuable time, time that will have to be stolen from someone or something else currently in your life. The only winner will be the person who asked you to do something.
2. You say yes.
3. By doing so, Today You avoids the momentary discomfort involved in saying no. The person who asked is thrilled. You feel the quick hit of relief that you didn’t have to disappoint anyone. Yet. This is the happiest time in this process. It will be fleeting. Enjoy it.
4. Because the moment you said yes, you bought a much bigger problem for Future You. When the time comes to do whatever you’ve agreed to, things and people in your life will suffer. You will suffer. So essentially, you’ve put the wants and needs of someone who isn’t close to you ahead of people who are.