Ok full disclosure here: I may be the target audience of this blog post.
With that said, I know I'm in great company when it comes to wanting to have more control over my time, energy, and schedule. It's been a slow evolution, and I'm nowhere near perfect, but I've finally figured something out.
Saying "no" and being more aware of my own personal boundaries and needs instead of pleasing others is not a strong suit of mine. And because of this, I run myself ragged trying to get everything done that I've somehow committed to. It's exhausting. New Year's Eve is a time for resolutions, and mine for three years running has been to find more overall balance in my life. At first, I thought this was supposed to look like me carving out more time for things I enjoy. Things like date nights, workouts, reading, hobbies, 1:1 time with my kids, home projects, travel.....oh yeah and working and keeping up with friends and trying to cook more...and, and, and.
What I've realized is that the balance I've desperately been seeking was somewhere I wasn't expecting. I was admittedly looking in the wrong direction. The secret ingredient I've been missing was something I've avoided with all of my being. I had to become more aware of my own limits and boundaries and get comfortable saying "no" to things. Yikes. That's uncomfortable. I hate feeling like I'm letting others down. I hate that guilty feeling when I know I'm missing something important. It's uncomfortable and sometimes downright painful.
I've been aware for some time that I'm not superwoman, and that I can't juggle everything. But that didn't stop me from taking on more than I needed to. Truth is, I miss going out with my friends on weekends. I miss being able to travel whenever I'd like. I want to be super mom and super school volunteer and super therapist and be 100% of all of those things all of the time. I've noticed is that I've been able to say no more comfortably over the past year. Like anything, it gets easier with practice. You know what? here are some positive things that have come from saying no.
I am more present.
Part of wanting to "do it all" was to be more connected with those I care about most. But you know what? Running around with a jam-packed calendar made me tired. I wasn't present for all the things I was cramming into my life week after week. Sure, I may have shown up to things, but I was really thinking about everything else on my to-do list. Not exactly the balanced feeling I was after.
A couple of months ago, we had a crazy night out for one of my dear friend's birthdays. We've grown up together, and unfortunately she's dealing with a life-threatening illness. I said "yes" to this and was excited about it. I actually hadn't been out in a while and was motivated to show up. I was able to laugh, connect, celebrate, hug, and be in the moment that night. It was refreshing to not go into that evening exhausted, depleted, and worn out. So many things in our lives are "shoulds" and "obligations,” that it tarnishes even the fun things on your list. Because I've been protecting my time more, I was able to 100% enjoy this time with my friends by being present and connected.
I have more time to say "yes.”
Protecting your time, energy, and boundaries opens up more time to do the thing that are most meaningful. "Busy" is one of my least favorite words. I hate missing out on something important because of being "busy.” What does that busy-ness get you? I can't answer for everyone, but it got me a lot of headaches, stress, and sleepless nights and a lot of guilt on missing out on things I wanted to do vs. things I was busy doing.
Recently my family had nothing on the calendar on a Saturday. That fact alone made me so happy. We went to bed with no plans but to do something together. When the kids suggested going to a park and then a hike in the woods, it felt so good to say "sure!" with no thought if we had something else planned. Being able to say yes to things like this that are important to me definately helps with the whole balance thing!
I'm a better person.
I'll admit that I can be a bit of a special "treat" to be around when I'm a crazy, stressed-out mess. And you know who got the brunt of that treatment? Those who I care the most about—my sweet husband and my children. Fighting to create more balance in my life by saying "no" to things has left me feeling so much less stressed that it's translated to my family. Maybe that old saying is true, "When momma's not happy, ain't nobody happy!" But the good news is that the inverse has also proven to be true, when I'm more balanced and present for my family I'm less stressed and more enjoyable to be around. This is contagious, and I find it translates to my family relationships, energy at work, and connections with friends.
This whole saying "no" thing has been a slow process for me. However, I've learned that sometimes some of the best self-care is to protect ourselves by protecting our time, our energy, our schedule, our health, our sanity, is to recognize your own limits and to get ok with saying no. You may just find out you get to say "yes!" to things that are most meaningful to you in your life.