Such a teeny-tiny little word and yet many of us find it remarkably difficult to say it to each other. We say ‘yes’ to invites, people, places and ideas which deep down if we’re brutally honest with ourselves, just don’t make us happy. Can you imagine if there was a way to calculate exactly how many weeks or even years of our lives that we spend doing things that we say “yes” to out of politeness or an unnecessary sense of obligation? Now imagine using those moments for things you actually care about instead. This thought has been enough to make me question what I am spending my own time & energy on and why it is important to say “No” sometimes.
I am beginning to understand that our time is one of our most valuable assets. I constantly feel like I don’t have enough of it and that is something I want to work on. Between work, commuting, playing music on the weekends, making time for my loved ones and travelling, my diary is jam packed. I do love being busy, I like to feel like I am achieving something and that my time is being spent wisely. But sometimes, like most of us, I reach the point where I just need to do absolutely nothing, see no one and recharge my mind. This means being able to say no and letting go of any guilt that comes with that.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting for one second that we should all just say “NO” to everything and sit at home in front of the TV for the rest of our lives. In fact, quite the opposite. I am an advocate for being a ‘YES PERSON’ – I.E. saying yes to opportunities and good things that come your way. But we need to be truthful with ourselves about what qualifies as an opportunity and what is something we should be perfectly comfortable in saying “No thanks” to.
Realising that your time belongs to you and that you don’t owe it to anyone is liberating. Life is already teeming with necessary duties and responsibilities so knowing and prioritising who and what is important to you is not selfish, it is not bad-mannered and it certainly is not wrong. By saying no to the stuff that doesn’t contribute anything meaningful to your life, you gift yourself with the time needed to focus on what truly matters to you. You can be polite and gracious for requests that require your time, but you can also respectfully decline.
Now, what about using valuable mental time and energy stressing and over-thinking? If the answer to the question “Does worrying about this help?”, is “No!”, then why do we bother? Of course, there are big issues that come our way in life that are important to dedicate time and energy to, but I am talking about the little stuff here – the time wasters and energy drainers. I am a sucker for getting into a panic and stressing over the silliest things; The other day, for example, we were on our way home from Donegal and one of our connecting trains left earlier than I had originally thought. I went from zero to 90 in about 10 seconds worrying about how we were going to get home. I calmed down just as quick of course, but it’s an example of something silly that didn’t really warrant to be stressed about. I wasted time and energy on thoughts that weren’t important and were completely out of my control. Now obviously, my example is on the lowest scale of things you could worry about, but what if you take the same logic and adopt it to other thoughts? Like worrying about what other people think? If you can’t control it is it worth your time and energy?
As I am getting older (you’d swear I was ancient at 28!) I am watching friends who are starting to settle down, are in the throes of their career, buying houses, starting families ETC., and it is evident that all of us have less and less free time. (Real life has started folks!) We squeeze coffees and chats in where ever possible, staying in tune with each other as much as we can, but the reality is that it is not ALWAYS feasible to be there. And yet, one of the things I love about my core group of friends is that not a single one of us holds each other at ransom over our lack of spare time. Understanding that friends can’t always make it and respecting their right to prioritise their time saves hardship for everyone. Yes, valuing YOUR free time is important, but applying that to those around you is part of the package of receiving the same consideration.
I said at the start of this blog that using my time and energy more wisely is something I want to work on, so this is how I have decided to tackle it:
- Well to begin, I am going to challenge myself over the next week to list the things that I both do and worry about, which don’t enhance my world. Then I will look at ways I can start filtering this stuff out. Kind of like the opposite of a bucket list! There are lots of fantastic TED talks online that promote this idea, this one was part of the inspiration for this blog post: WATCH ME
- I want to make sure the goals which were important to me at the beginning of the year are still on track and are getting the time they deserve. And equally goals that are no longer relevant (because let’s face it; we are constantly changing and the things we want change with us) can be put to rest.
- And finally, I am going to make a mindful effort to stop saying yes to the things that don’t make me happy or add purpose to my life. I want to find the balance between being the YES PERSON and the NO PERSON.
I’m really interested to hear what people think about this topic! I’ve brought the idea up with a couple of friends this past week and it has opened up some really interesting conversations about how people manage their lives differently and how some people feel more pressure than others. If anyone has any tips or ways they deal with this stuff then please feel free to share, I would love to do a follow up post in a couple of months based on the feedback and tools I learn along the way.
Until then, just try to remember that your time belongs to you, it is your responsibility to use it wisely and it is perfectly fine to say ‘Thanks, but no thanks’…
Written with love,