Hi Destiny! So I’m in a bit of a predicament. Every year I say yes to too many commitments and end up stressed. How can I start saying no in a way that doesn’t hurt anyone’s feelings? – Crunched for Time
Dear Crunched for Time,
There really aren’t enough hours in the day. Personally, I live in constant fear that one more stressful task will lead to an ulcer. But I’ve been on a journey of self improvement for a few years through a search of living a life of ~good vibes~. Although I can’t say that I completely got rid of negative influences in my life, I decluttered my commitments quite a bit. Here’s some advice on how I was able to cut down on my commitments and make my life a lot less stressful.
The first thing that you have to do is lay out your schedule. Take your nearest Lisa Frank notebook and rip out four pages (and promise the earth you’ll recycle them). On the first, write down every commitment that you have. This could be anything from classes, clubs, hanging out with friends and make sure you write down homework and studying, too.
On your other pieces of paper, write the headers “What Makes me Happy,” “What Furthers my Career” and “What Feeds my Soul.” Take a minute and reflect on what commitments best serve these purposes.
Then, order your commitments from what best serves this topic to what least serves this topic. Make sure you are gracious when filling out this list. Your side hustle isn’t something that you want to do, but if it pays for college, you have to be honest about its importance. Sometimes you have to wait out a side hustle until you can leave in a blaze of glory. Until then … keep your day job.
When you’re done, your list might have a pattern of activities at the bottom. These are the things that don’t add joy to your life, don’t further you as a professional and don’t feed your passion. It’s time to #thankunext these activities.
But the question is: How? I don’t know you but I can guess that you already knew what was wrong with your schedule. Even before I laid it out for you. No, the real problem is being able to say “I’m done with this.” The problem is that you have to realize that your time is valuable.
Life is too short to waste time on doing things that don’t serve you. I know that it’s terrifying to let someone down or to turn on your word. But it’s even scarier to be stuck in a situation where you desperately want to escape but can’t. You have to be honest with yourself and others about what you need. The good that you will do for yourself by leaving a commitment will outweigh the guilt of turning on your word.
It’s important to know that your work is never truly done. Next year, when you inevitably get asked for another opportunity, remember the dread that you feel when asking to leave a commitment. It’s a lot easier to say “no” to someone off the bat then to leave halfway through a project.
Just remember that it’s not lazy to put your needs first in life, nor is it unambitious. It’s healthy. And it’s what you deserve. Good luck, Crunched for Time. I believe in you.
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