People talk about being busy – busy tending to personal and professional tasks that extend outside their responsibilities or interests. This is especially true for many of my clients during the pandemic. If you can relate, then you may need something to change, and that something just might be you.
Start by asking yourself the following questions:
- Do you say yes when asked to do something, even if you want to say no?
- Do you have more responsibilities than available time to complete them?
- Do you skip family activities because you are busy with other commitments?
- Do you prefer doing things yourself rather than asking others for assistance?
Answering yes to any of the above can lead to feelings of resentment, frustration, burn-out, and exhaustion. These yesses are your wake up call to facing the reality that something needs to change.
Figuring out these changes requires you to look at your life as a whole. Start by identifying how you spend your time (i.e., attending meetings, working on projects, attending socially distanced events, spending time with your family). Then figure out which of these activities are expected of you and which you have willingly agreed to.
The things required of you are your must-dos. These are the responsibilities expected of you, such as providing shelter and food for your kids, paying taxes, and meeting the duties outlined in your job description. Even if you don’t like or want to do these things, you understand that they are your non-negotiables.
Next, take the list of things that you willingly agreed to do and divide them into two categories:
- Things you value and want to be doing (i.e., getting together with relatives on weekly video calls, mentoring rising leaders)
- Things you agree to do to but don’t like or enjoy yet recognize the value in doing them anyway (i.e., cleaning your garage, revising client presentation for the fifth time)
The latter part of the second category (the things you agree to do but don’t want to do) is where proactive change can begin. You may perceive these tasks as must-dos, or perhaps feel uncomfortable declining, and, therefore, treat them as things you cannot decline.
The reality is, you have a choice and do not have to do what others are asking of you. This may lead to other challenges or complexities, but if it’s important enough to you (while still meeting your must-dos), you will hopefully be willing to turn your yesses into nos.
If saying yes gets in the way of living your life as you desire, it’s time to figure out what you can be doing differently – and start doing it! Change is not always easy, especially now, when there has been so much imposed upon us during the pandemic.
Whether you realize it or not, putting people’s needs before your own is being unkind to yourself. You may instinctually want to please others and therefore be inclined to say yes when no is really your answer. Keep reminding yourself that it’s ok to do things differently than you once had because, like everything else in life, there comes a time when change is necessary.