I have a hard time turning people down. If someone asks for something and I can do it, I usually volunteer. I like to be able to help people, and I love feeling appreciated. It doesn’t hurt that I’ve always been able to roll with whatever happens to come along, and I’ve got a positive outlook, so can often find the good in any situation, even a bad one.
I started to notice, though, that I was feeling resentful of the time I was spending doing things for others. It wasn’t everybody, and it wasn’t all the time, so I didn’t know how to make sense of it at first. I noticed that it happened most when I agreed to do something in a day that was already pretty busy or a day when I was really tired. One of the values I feel strongly about is that if I’ve agreed to do something, I follow through unless death, terrible illness, accident, or some unforeseen circumstance prevents it. So it isn’t likely that I’ll call back and say, “I need to bail on our arrangement because I’m too busy.” In fact, I probably won’t even ask to reschedule. But I notice that when someone needs to change plans with me or asks me to adjust my schedule and my priorities, I will do it with little complaint. I understand that they have too much to do or something else came up that needs to be attended to.
So knowing all of this information, I’ve been taking some time to think about my options. And I’ve decided that I need to learn to say “no” more often. I need to listen to the request and make a better decision about my time and energy. I need to look at my schedule. And then I need to make an honest assessment of what I am available to do. I need to make choices that work for me, and not because I feel like I owe someone or because I want them to think highly of me or because I did it last time or I think no one else will do it. I agree to things because they are things I want to do – maybe to help a friend or to pay back a favor or to do something interesting in my free time. And I need to remember that I am simply not able to do all the things I would like to do because time is a valuable commodity, and I only get 24 hours each day.