Author and ‘no’ expert Susan Newman provides a crash course in saying no.
1. Audit your yeses
If you are a yes person, counting how many times you use the word ‘yes’ in a week will shock you. The real gauge of whether your yes quotient is over the top is how pressured, time-poor or resentful you feel. Any negative reaction – Why did I agree? What was I thinking? What am I doing? I don’t want to be available, I would rather be elsewhere – is a sign you’re at your threshold.
2. Manage your time
If most of your time is monopolised assisting one friend, when will you see other friends? If family or job demands are high, what’s left over for your own enjoyment? When your time is well managed, you’ll keep some in reserve for what’s most important to you.
3. Shuffle priorities
Who has first crack at you without your feeling burdened or anxious? A partner? A child? A friend? A boss? Write down who you want to get first dibs (hint: numero uno should be you).
4. Set parameters
Draw a line around your space, time and generosity. This imaginary line will keep other people’s problems and obligations out and preserve your energy and wellbeing (a bit like a Tupperware container). Consider how much of other people’s problems you can tolerate without feeling drained. How long are you willing to put up with one-way friendships with you always on the giving end? Decide how personal you’re willing to be and what kinds of requests make you uncomfortable. On the physical side, when does your stamina expire? Which requests are too taxing? To stay healthy your body and mind require rest, and if you don’t set limits you won’t get it.
5. Delegate surplus work
When you don’t trust others to be in charge or to get things accomplished, you wind up agreeing to and doing far more than your share. Eliminating the need to run things yourself to be sure they turn out the way you like relieves much of the pressure you put on yourself.
This article was originally published in Women’s Health and Fitness magazine.