My email in-box is a scary place. More often than not it’s crowded with junk, “special offers,” daily devotionals I signed up to read but never seem to get around to reading and occasionally, something important. I spend a lot of time “unsubscribing” from things I don’t remember subscribing to just to be able to see the mail that I DO want to read. To be honest, my inbox is a lot like my life. So many things I said “Yes” to, not realizing I wouldn’t have enough time to do them; so many things I’d like to get around to but never do; and so many people in my life getting overlooked because of the sheer busy-ness of my life.
For the most part, the biggest emotion this mess produces in me is guilt. I look at the devotionals I “should” be reading and the webinars I “should” attend and all the other things I “should” be doing and I feel overwhelmed and inadequate for the challenge! The thing is, I did this to myself! It occurred to me that I could stop all this if I wanted to. All I have to do is learn to say,”no.” Think about how powerful this little word is. We all worry so much about offending people in our lives or about missing out on things that we forget to evaluate the opportunities that come our way to see if they are A) do-able, and B) what we really want to be spending our time on.
It’s nice to be needed, nice to feel like people value our input and participation in their endeavors, but if your time and energies are so stretched to the limit that you end up disappointing the people you were trying to help, then all you end up with is a broken promise, a lost friendship, and a lot of guilt. To be free from this potential failure, all we need do is think. Evaluate what saying “Yes” to this opportunity would mean. Do you have the time and the energy to devote to it? What other commitments do you have on your plate that might suffer if you take on this new challenge? If you’re honest with yourself you may just find that you really don’t have the time to spare. It may be that you miss out on a few things and even disappoint a few people, but in the long run, the commitments that you’ve already made will benefit and you will be walking around with a lot less guilt in your life.
Saying “no” can be a liberating experience. It can free you to focus on what is really important to you and it can free you from feeling guilty about what you “should” be doing, because you’re already doing it. You are being a good shepherd of your time and energy.
Now, if I could just get better at putting this into practice!