Just Say No: A Guide to Letting Go

Confession time: I am terrible with effectively managing my time and matching up what I say is important to me with my daily actions. As I recently wrote to someone in an email, “I’m a jumble of good intentions coupled with bad habits and a lack of knowledge.” To assist with the lack of knowledge bit of my struggle, I signed up for Javacia Harris Bowser’s How to Write and Have a Life e-course. Participating in the e-course (including doing the homework) is a high priority for me, yet today I became discouraged because my mind was too cluttered with half-finished projects, good intentions that never actually turned into actions, and unnecessary tasks to focus on crafting my mission statement or writing my vision.

I spent much of December in survival mode. The first two weeks were almost solely focused on making sure my girls had all the emotional and practical support they needed as they walked  through a particularly treacherous portion of their journey. The latter half was spent traveling, socializing, introducing our girls to family and friends, and trying to make sure everyone made it through the holidays with their sanity intact. After our return home, we jumped right into a big project, spent a ton of time with the girls, struggled through some sickness, and tried to find our equilibrium again. By the time the girls went back to school and life was supposed to return to normal, my husband and I were completely and utterly spent.

As we’ve been trying to get our momentum back and re-focus on our goals, we’re realizing the importance of a “Just Say No” list, a list of what not to do. We both have personal and professional dead weight holding us back from living our lives in line with our goals and values. Today, we went on a lunch date and figured out where we could just say no.

Here are a few of the things from our “Just Say No” list:

  • No more doing so many things for the girls that they can do themselves just because it is easier than teaching them how to do it or because we are trying to overcompensate for the ways other people have failed them.
  • No more labor-intensive meals nearly every night. We can eat well and simply and have more time and energy for meaningful tasks if we plan better and cook more efficiently.
  • No more home improvement projects for January and possibly February.
  • No more One True Sentence, for the time being. I might get back to it one of these days, but trying to go back to it now would keep me from moving forward in my work. I didn’t plan on December being so chaotic and busy, but it was and I did a great job handling it. I didn’t have time for a sentence or photo a day and that’s okay. It’ll be there when I’m ready to return to it.
  • No more nagging each other or allowing the girls to nag us. We’ve created spaces for written requests and once the request is on the list, no more bugging anyone about it. Mental space is a precious commodity and needless or repeated requests are too often a distraction.

If you find yourself ready to move forward but stuck because you are afraid or unused to saying no, I encourage you to make your own “Just Say No” list and give your mind, your relationships, your schedule, and your passion a bit of breathing room.

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