If you’re like me, sometimes you just need to slow down. Are you kidding? Have you seen my To-Do list? While this might seem impossible, or better yet impractical on first glance, work with me here. I consider myself a recovering people pleaser and Myers-Briggs once called me an ENFP in high school. The nerve. Left to my own devices, my first response is “Sure, I can do that,” before considering the impact. It doesn’t take long before you are stretched thin, your blood pressure is up and you find yourself longing for even five hours of sleep. Oh, you’re married? Have a few kids? Try overcommitting for too long and let me know how that works for you.
But my career – I have to get that certification or I won’t progress at work! Of course, we have to sign up our kids up for every sport that’s offered; it’s the American way. Listen, I know it’s my fifth committee, but this one’s a church thing so it’s OK. While these examples can certainly be great things in and of themselves, what does your calendar look like when you’ve said “yes” to all of them? Oh, and don’t forget that work has you traveling three out of the next four weeks, so your “getting the yard done” weekend plans aren’t fooling anybody.
Here’s where it gets sticky: we’ve all met that guy or girl who was so incredibly driven that they accomplished everything we just listed above – all while brushing up on their German, right? I’m not against driven people; I envy them and often try to find their secret. I’ve perused the blogs on productivity, spent a dollar or two on an app for that and tried my best to perform the high-flying juggling act that is saying “yes” to everything.
Bottom line: I’m not making a declarative statement about your situation – I don’t know it. What I am offering is the opinion that purposefully slowing down, in whatever form that means for you, can be beneficial. Some considerations:
- Count the cost. Saying “yes” to these five things means I have to say “no” to what?
- Don’t skimp on what matters. [Insert important relationship here.] You’ve heard the example of the rocks and the jug, right? Insert the big ones first.
- Practice saying “no.” Sounds simple, but try saying “no” to every fourth thing you are asked to do. Practice makes perfect.
- Reflect. When is the last time you actually disconnected from the outside world? Smartphone included? Purposeful reflection without distraction can provide clarity.
- Add the accountability factor. This can be a relationship check or a financial incentive or whatever works for you. Get serious about it.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go set my fantasy football lineup for the week…