Freedom Is Knowing You Can’t “Have It All”
You live in the information age, which means you could spend the next month just reading blogs about, let’s say kettlebells, and still not get through them all, and your loved ones, students and clients are able to reach you through seven different venues at once. So, you technically CANNOT get to everything you might like to get to, or others might like you to get to.
But don’t despair; you can still have a satisfying life that makes an impact. Considering, however, that our brains have not caught up with the new reality of “truly too much to do,” we have to compensate by forcing ourselves to say more “profound yeses and nos.” Especially if you desire to become more of a leader in your life or in your family or career, you must admit that every “yes” does mean a “no” to something else. So, if you say “yes” to your manager to work an evening shift, you are saying “no” to reading to your kids at night.
The converse is also true, and that’s what we are focusing on today. When you say “no” to something, you also give more weight to whatever is a “yes.” So, if you say “no” to your manager about staying late, you are much more likely to really milk those moments with your kids for all they’re worth, because you’ve actually had to consciously sacrifice to win your right to them.
Instead of making these hard choices, most of us try to avoid deciding at all and just say “yes” to everything. Unfortunately, someone will pay the price later, always. There is no free ride. Peter does pay Paul. When you say yes to too many things, you can possibly hurt your health, fail at many of the things to which you’ve said yes, and then you get in trouble or lose the responsibility (and someone’s trust), or you blow up at the people whom you perceive to be in control of your time.
Actually, you are in control of your time, and your relationship with time is one of the most important relationships of your entire life. Time is the currency of your life; it’s actually all you’ve got to play with when figuring out what impact you want to make in life. I recommend treating the process of choosing how to spend your time with a lot more sanctity, starting today. Here’s how:
1) Admit it. Managing time isn’t easy or natural or taught at school, but it is something you need to master and most of us haven’t yet.
2) What’s your flavor? You have a particular style of your relationship to time with its very own pitfalls. Write out your flavor. Here are some examples:
- “I just add and add and work and work until it all explodes, I get sick and others have to pick up the pieces.”
- “I just say yes until all the time is filled, including my sleep time and then wonder why I never feel like a real grown-up or leader.”
3) Yeses. Decide on your most important yeses. For me, they are: excelling in my career, doing public events to greater and greater numbers of people, spending quality time with my husband and kids, exercise and meditation. At some point, my kids will be out of the house or I may feel I’ve reached a certain level in my career, and then those foci may change. (That means I do not dedicate a ton of time to cooking, crafts, internet surfing, or socializing outside of work, though at other times in my life, those things were important yeses.)
4) Nos. Choose your profound nos. This is the toughest part and it will feel like I am asking you to change the very core of who you are, how you make friends and influence people. That’s because I am. If, and only if, you want to expand what you are capable of, or your leadership capacity, you are going to have to learn to say “no.” It doesn’t mean that a particular thing won’t get done; there is a world a possibility for how your goal could get accomplished some other way or by some other person, you just aren’t thinking that way yet.
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Just like those of you with clients of your own, you realize you only have time for a certain number of them. So what do you do when you’re in increasing demand? It might feel contrary to put limits on your client time, but that’s exactly what you will have to do. Here’s how I guided my coaches, who are getting very popular. I asked them to start dealing with saying “no” to certain things to make more room for coaching and their families. Here is a list of things to give you some ideas. See how they apply to you:
- No to more than two support emails between client coaching sessions
- No to taking calls after 9pm
- No to more than X hours of work on the weekend (or during their “days off”)
- No to mundane tasks that would be worth the money to outsource, in order to focus on higher leverage dreams
- No to busy work when you can find a better way
- No to frivolous internet play that doesn’t result in anything positive
- No to clients who can’t pay your rate (they can go to other great trainers at lower rates)
- No to anything you will grumble about or punish someone for later
- No to screen time when kids are around
- No to emails more than seven lines long or six minutes to write
These nos seem simple, but they are not. They force you as the no-giver to rethink how you get your results and call on a higher or deeper part of self. That’s so powerful. Also, in the saying of “no,” you recalibrate how you and others see you, and because you have become more of “an author” in your life, the things you’ve said yes to now hold more significance. When you can focus fully on being excellent at your yeses, your fear about the nos fades away. As long as you set things up well when you say “no”, you can expect cascades of pride about all the areas where you have rededicated yourself with a strong and profound “yes.” Don’t believe me? Try it!