Last week, I was recording a podcast with Andy Andrews and he asked the million-dollar question, “How do you do it all?”
My response was simply this, “While I do juggle a number of balls, there are many more more balls I’ve chosen to drop or hand off to someone else.”
Re-read what I just wrote. Yes, I’ve selectively chosen to drop balls. And I’m okay with that.
I Tried to Do It All & Failed
However, for a long time, I wasn’t okay with that. I tried to do way too much. I said “yes” to many more opportunities than I had time or energy for.
I’m Type A and have a very high-driving personality. I’m the kind who doesn’t want to admit that I can’t do it all. So you can imagine that it’s hard for me to say “no.”
But when I hit rock bottom a few years ago and realized that my health, my marriage, my home, and my life as a whole was out of whack because of being overextended, I had to get radical and just start saying no to all non-necessities.
Stripping Out the Non-Necessities
As I chronicled in Say Goodbye to Survival Mode, once I stripped my life of all non-necessities, I then had enough breathing room in my life to determine what I call my Best Stuff List. This is a list of the very few things I want to wrap my time and energy around.
To come up with the Best Stuff List, I had to fast forward in my mind to 25 years from now and think what things would be a priority then. I want to live now thinking of finishing well. And when you consider what’s going to really matter in 25 years, it pares down your life to the true priorities.
My Best Stuff List
I now hold up everything in my life in light of my Best Stuff List and those few things I’ve determined are true priorities. Everything — from opportunities to commitments to everyday responsibilities — is compared against my Best Stuff List to see whether it’s in line with these priorities or not.
This might seem harsh or rigid, but in reality, it’s freeing for me. Because I don’t want to waste my days spinning my wheels on things that don’t really matter.
What is a priority for one person won’t necessarily be a priority for another. And what’s a priority for one season, won’t necessarily be a priority for another.
But stripping away all the fluff and getting to the heart of what is actually a priority for you at this season of life will change the way you live. And it will empower you to stop feeling obligated to say “yes” to things that aren’t important for you and will only crowd out the room for what is important.
What To Do About the Guilt
It’s not always easy to say “no.” I want to help everyone. I want to volunteer for a lot of things. I want to accept many different opportunities that come my way.
But I also want to take care of my health. I want to grow in my spiritual walk. I want to be a loyal friend. And I don’t want to give my family the leftovers of my time and energy.
So I have a choice: I can exhaust myself trying to do most everything. Or I can choose to say “no” to most things and only do a few things well.
Sometimes, It’s Hard to Say “No”
Just today, I had to say a hard “no” — and it hurt my heart. A dear woman asked if I would help her with her book project. She wanted someone to look over it and give her honest feedback.
I love to do this sort of thing as often as I’m able, but because my blogging/writing time is full right now between blogging and writing my own book, I knew that the time for helping her with her book could only come out of family time.
At a different season — when I’m not in the middle of my own book project — I could probably carve out time to help her. But right now, I have to look at my priorities and realize that I have to prioritize family time over other projects right now.
And so I wrote her and said no as graciously as I could and she was so understanding in her response to me — which I was grateful for. Even though my heart really wanted to help her, my heart knows my family has to come first in this situation.
What Matters Most
I only have one life to live. When I say “yes” to one thing, it means I must say “no” to something else.
At the end of the day, I don’t want to regret the things I’ve said “yes” to. If saying “no” to many great things allows me the space in my life to say “yes” the best things, it’s worth it.
…to be continued later this week.
Do you struggle to say “no” sometimes? What have you said “no” to in order to say “yes” to the best? I’d love to hear!