I’m seeing a new trend all over the place…people saying “no”. Moms, bloggers, volunteers are tired of being over-scheduled and are learning to step back from all of the responsibilities and activities. For a long time I really resented all the people saying “no” to this or that. Especially volunteers. If good people won’t step up and get the important things done then how are the organizations that rely on volunteers and kind hearts going to function? It’s people like me who belong to multiple organizations, volunteer all over town, donate money to charities who bear the burden of people who say “I’m done with all the things. I’m tired of spending my time on x, y or z.” Every time someone steps away from something, someone else has to pick up their slack.
So I powered forward with all of my commitments secretly cursing and envying those who washed their hands of it all.
Amongst my busy schedule I began to realize something. There were a few “yeses” that were stealing my joy. There have been two big commitments in my life that have made me bitter and discontent and it spills into everyday life. I would love nothing more than to drop it all, leave it all hanging and walk away without seeing it through. But I’m not a jerk. I made a promise do a job and I’ll do it. Unfortunately, it is with a reluctant heart that I power through to the end.
This month I finally had the courage to say “no”. I will fulfill my promise to the organizations but I was also able to promise myself and my family that when those obligations are over then I will take a step back and let someone else take my place. After some soul searching, reading and pod cast listening I have started to realize that when you say “yes” to something then you are saying “no” to something else. I have to prioritize my obligations and giving my time and talents to one thing means that something else won’t get as much of my effort. There is no possible way for me to do every single thing I want to do and not go crazy in the process. In order to balance life, responsibilities and the things I’m passionate about, I have to make choices. Which things do I feel exceptionally passionate about? Which things are a good idea but not a “hell yes!” project? Which things will give me joy or drain my energy? I’m passionate about a lot of things but when an obligation becomes a burden then it is time to rethink and revisit.
I believe very strongly in volunteerism. I think that it is very important that we each give of ourselves without expecting anything in return. You know the phrase “it takes a village to (fill in the blank)”? I feel that way about volunteer organizations that are doing good in their communities. That is why it is equally important to say “yes” to the things that give you joy and use your talents to the best of your ability and to say “no” to other things and let someone else use their talents for a job they are suited for. Just a few people doing all of the work is a quick recipe for burn out. I am learning to have faith in other people and their willingness to step up and take the lead on things. This is a hard one for me because when I place my own expectations on others I’m often disappointed. I’m learning to not judge others for their involvement or lack thereof.
I’ve also learned that it is okay to rest.
For someone who is constantly on the go, purposeful rest is still a learning process. Sitting down on Sunday to read a book or take a nap feels very indulgent and selfish. However, I’m learning that it is important to feed my soul and do things just for me in order to avoid burn out or simply not be grumpy. Being still, reading, resting are all things that I want to do but feel unproductive while I’m doing them.
In summary: What I’ve learned in March
1) Say “no” to the things that suck the life out of me and instead say “yes” to the things where I will find purpose and joy.
2) Allow myself time to rest.
3) Refrain from placing expectations on others and judging them for what I think they should be doing.
To be honest, these are ongoing lessons. Just because I’ve had a few revelations in the past month doesn’t mean I have it all figured out. I have a feeling that learning to say “no”, picking my “yeses” wisely and not judging others on how much they do or don’t do will be an ongoing battle.
What did you learn in March?