A new coaching client recently came to me for support with time management.

When I asked her which skills she thought she needed in order to find more balance in life, she told me, “I need to learn to say no.” Like many of my clients, she has an old habit of trying to be everything to everyone. Last week, though, she realized something new: She needs to say no to herself just as often as to other people.

It can be so hard to say no to yourself. With all of the craziness in our world, it can feel as though you’re needed everywhere. At work, with your kids, in your relationship, in the streets, for yourself. What can make things all the more confusing is you may want to be able to show up everywhere, and you may want to do it all right now.  You may not want to say no.

I know my inner Impatient Activist Habit Self does not like being patient. My inner Judge chides, “You should be able to do all that. Who do you think you are, taking time to rest?” I want to be able to do so much more than I’m capable of, and I grieve the fact that I have limited capacity.

My wiser self knows, however, that life is a marathon. Patience is a key ingredient for real change.

To help you discern what to say no to, I’ll offer two questions that I shared with my client. First question: What do you truly want? Look out to the next horizon of your life. You may see a completely transformed life. Or, you may discover that you mostly have what you want already, but you just wish you had more time for all of the parts. Either way, give yourself a moment to focus your attention on what you want.

Second question: What do you have the capacity for? Bring the view in closer, and look at the next month or so. What can you actually fit into your life? What do you have time for? And, what do you need to say no to (at least for right now)?

Give yourself time to mourn what you cannot say yes to right now. Then, allow yourself a breath of relief and take in the freedom that comes with lightening your load. Marathons are hard work, but they’re so much easier when you have space for what you’re carrying.

I invite you to check out our professional coaching programs and then to apply for a discovery session when you’re ready to talk. All the best to you!

I’d love to hear from you!  What helps you say no to yourself?
And, as always, please share this article with your friend who’s struggling with taking on too much.  Thank you!


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