If I had to describe 2015 in one word it would be packed – as in packed with some awesome highs (our second daughter’s arrival!) and lows (family struggling with health problems).
Even without those huge peaks and valleys I have to admit that had more than I could reasonably handle.
The reality for many of us is we have too much to do and not enough time to do them well. We can’t control certain aspects of our lives, but we can find ways to get some buffer so we can cope for the rough patches and enjoy the peaks more.
The key? Simplifying our commitments.
Unfortunately it can be easier said than done as many of our commitments are tied in some way to our relationships. So how do you simplify and still stay friends with your loved ones?
Learning the Art of ‘No’
Most people feel guilty to saying no. Maybe it’s because they think they’re letting someone down or they feel like surely there must be some way to squeeze in this obligation.
The truth is though that telling people no is not a sign of weakness or lack of concern. It’s really a sign of kindness and humility to ourselves and others when we learn to say no.
I have some tips to make things easier for everyone. Believe it or not, the secret to giving a guilt free no really comes down to two steps.
- Define and Share Your Why
- Find Fun Ways to Include Your Friends
Define Your Why (and Share It!)
Before you can say now without the guilt, it would be good for you to understand your reason for limiting your commitments.
You might be rolling your eyes at how obvious the answer is – to have more time of course – but what does that really mean?
A huge reason why I’m cutting back on my commitments is that I wasn’t really giving or enjoying the time I had for the most important people and activities in my life. I was too busy worrying about taking care of all these obligations, it was almost impossible to live in and appreciate the present.
If you haven’t figure out your why, think about it this week. If you’re married, go ahead and block out some time for a date.
Seriously. Have a relaxing and fun date where you two sit down and figure out what you truly want to do with your lives.
- Do you want to travel more?
- Start a business?
- Buy a place?
Whatever it is, take it another level and ask, why?
Once you get past the quick and easy answers you’ll come to the core, your real why. Let me give you an example with finances.
When Certified Financial Planner Carl Richards would sit down with clients to discuss their goals, he’s asked them, Why is money really important to you? Some people started off by saying they want to get out of debt or save more. When he pushes again, they may come back with slightly deeper answers like ‘financial freedom’ or ‘security’.
After he pushes again, he gets to the root – more time for family, be able to stay home with the kids, volunteer more, and so on. You have to do the same – what do you want to do and why?
Everyone will have different responses so no need to compare. Write it down and keep it handy. Not only do you need to be able to reference this for motivation, it’s important for your friends to know and understand it.
Find Fun Ways to Include Your Friends
Just because you’re dropping commitments doesn’t mean you’re dropping your friends. Make sure they know that you want them in your lives.
I remember when we were looking for ways to save a bit more money to pay down debt, we decided on cheap fun dates. We had to say no to a few invitations and I was feel bad.
I missed the company and conversations over dinner with friends. To make things fun, we started a $20 date night challenge. (By the way Toni totally nailed it and took it up a notch with her $20 Date Night family outings!)
We told buddies about this and it was great. Not only did we get to hang with our friends, all of us also discovered deals around town. A win-win!
Thoughts on Simplifying Commitments
I’m not saying this is easy, but I can tell you it’s worth it.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about this. What do you want to do and why? What commitments have been keeping your scheduled packed?