Once upon a time, I was a “yes” woman. “Hey, Jen, can you_______(fill in the blank) “come to my in-home sales party, attend my other kind of party, help me move, plan/host a party, cook your sick friend dinner, attend this event at church/school/work, pick up snack for class, buy a gift for your co-worker/teacher/friend, etc, etc, etc.” Why, yes, I can. I’m happy to help.
I want to do all of these things. I’d love to be all things to all people. The problem is that with my own full-time job, serving on three non-profit boards, a husband who travels for his job and who is the lead singer of a band, and two sons with their own activities (sometimes at the same time, across town from each other), as well as other family and personal activities, it is physically impossible to always say “yes.”
So, I’ve had to learn to embrace a new term- “No” followed by another one that I constantly tell myself, “I’m doing the best I can.” This has become my mantra. When I feel I’m letting someone down by not doing what they want me to do or when I forget to buy snack for school until the morning it’s due, I repeat it to myself, “I’m doing the best I can.”
I’ve finally learned that I can only commit myself to a certain extent. There are only so many activities I can juggle. I want to do all things well. If I overcommit, something is going to suffer. Everyone is much better off, if I politely decline when I know the balance is tipping.
I’m not sure why but it’s taken me a long time to learn that it’s OK to say “no”. If you haven’t quite gotten there yet, try it but be honest about it. No one likes being lied to. Instead of overcommitting yourself, try saying “no” every once in a while. Or maybe even “not right now, maybe next time.”
On the flip side, if you’re disappointed that someone has let you down, maybe they, too, are doing the best they can. Wouldn’t the world be better if we’d all give each other a little bit of grace?