Our time is limited and we are called to be good stewards of it.
Hi, I’m Cindy. I’m a people pleaser. I can’t say no, so if there’s anything you would like me to do…. for free…. just ask. Oh and, I’ll pour my heart and soul into it because, A. I’m a perfectionist who can’t do anything halfway. B. I’m a nice person and I like being nice. C. I believe in applying excellence to everything I do. And because this is my life M.O., I will pull consecutive all-nighters for you (suffering myself), if need be.
Sound familiar? It’s called culture.
*shocker* This is NOT a sustainable way to live. Downhill was inevitable even though I was seriously deluded to believe convinced I owned a few superhero cloaks. But the beautiful thing about burnout is that it forces you to figure out where you went wrong. And here’s what I have learned – the oh so difficult way…
You have to say no to the good so you can be available to say yes to the great.
Good things will appear good…at first….but they will eventually, and they will always, lead to feelings of exhaustion, frustration, exasperation, confusion, hurt, disappointment, discouragement and depletion. Why? Because it means you are giving too much of yourself and not getting the proper replenishment you need to keep going. When you’re not in the pocket of your strengths and abilities, you will forever be trying to force your square self to fit into a round hole. Exhausting.
What’s best for you will excite you, invigorate you, challenge you, mature you and bring you joy, peace, fulfillment, energy and comfort. And it will continue to do so over the long haul because it will spur you on, it will propel your passions and it will continuously build you up. There will be ease to it because you feel in the zone, in your groove, like you found your fit. You will feel home.
How do I know this? Because I have done enough things in life to exhaust me that I have finally discovered what energizes me. But it has not come without a few bumps and bruises along the way.
All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.
So here’s what I have learned:
1. Saying no is an awful lot like working out.
Sometimes it is easy. Sometimes it is hard. It is a constant form of effort until you can build up your muscles, but you have to work at it. You have to practice. You have to train yourself. And the more you condition yourself to find what involvements are best suited for your strengths and abilities, the more healthy and alive you will feel.
But let me warn you… sometimes the good things in life come packaged as the best, and sometimes the best things in life come packaged as the good. Like yoga, hello – some people call it amazing. I call it torture. NOT the best choice of exercise for my attention span. But it’s trial and error. You have to know, accept and understand YOUR strengths and weaknesses in order to move forward with a discernment to understand the difference…. which of course means letting go of comparison to other people and their strengths and abilities… but that’s for another day… another blog post.
2. You are going to disappoint people along the way. Be okay with that.
Everyone thinks their party is what you should attend. Their volunteer position is where you should serve. Their charity case is what you support. Their cry for help is where you should respond. And they’re not wrong in believing that. We all have needs and areas of passion and focus, and we certainly all have important life events that pop up. It’s all good – it’s what makes the world go around – but the question is: what’s the best use of your life? – your energy, your resources, your talents and your time? Figuring that out will help you be okay with the fact that you are gonna disappoint people, and that’s okay.
3. You are going to feel the pressure to make excuses. But don’t. Why should you?
We all have 24-hours in the run of the day. We all have priorities that we deem important. We all have strengths and abilities suited for specific tasks and responsibilities, and the people who truly love you and accept that you prioritize your life differently, and especially the people who understand and appreciate how hard it is to say “no”, will understand. They won’t guilt-trip you into feeling the need to justify your answer or explain your life. This is your one life to live, so live how God is asking you to live, not other people.
4. You are going to feel guilty and want to recant your answer. But sleep on it.
You will feel guilty, yes. You will feel horrible, yes. You will torture yourself into thinking you are the worst person in the world for having said no. I wrote the book on this. But take my advice and do yourself a favor, sleep on it. Take some time to think about the fact that: the best things for you are things that will make you come alive. They won’t rob you of your joy. They won’t fill you with dread the day prior. They won’t leave you exhausted the day after. They will excite you. They will challenge you. They will make you feel like you have something to offer in this world, and they will spur you on in your efforts to be the best you can be. If “the good” doesn’t line up with that, then it’s not “the best”, and a simple “no” is required. Why should you feel guilty for wanting the best out of life?
So rather than these answers:
Sure, why not.
I would love too but I can’t.
I don’t think I would be the best fit for this.
Let me think about it.
Can I take the night to sleep on it?
Can I get back to you?
I’d love to, but I should probably say no.
I don’t think I can commit to this at the moment.
I have a lot of my plate.
Sorry, I think I should pass.
Can’t swing it right now.
I’m honoured you would ask, but…
Bummer, bad timing.
Perhaps when life slows down and I have a little more flexibility.
The only way to understand the very fine line between what’s good and what’s the best, is to understand how God created you to be and what he created you to do.
Teach us to use wisely all the time we have.