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When is it okay to say no to helping others?



Zuzanna Górska-Kanabus - published on 06/01/18

There are limits to your time and ability to give -- here's how to set priorities.

Many people are bombarded on a daily basis by invitations to get involved in new activities. Other people want your time and energy, and try to convince you to get on board with their plans and projects. Sometimes, it’s tough to say no.

However, your time is limited, and if you’re not careful, you may engage in so many projects, that once you add up the time they all take, they become like a second job without the paycheck. Even worse: sometimes, your family suffers because of it.

How can you avoid taking on too many responsibilities?

Your no could be a chance for someone else to say yes. Don’t take too much on yourself; give other people a chance to get involved and show what they can do. Here are few ideas that will help you set boundaries and avoid too many commitments …

1. Believe that you alone know what is important to you

You know what is best for you. If you don’t trust yourself to know when to say no, others will be happy to spend your time for you. Your life will be planned by others, and you will lose control.Don’t let someone else steer your life. Be proactive and consciously shape your life.

2. Don’t agree to anything on the spur of the moment

If someone invites you to take part in a new project, don’t act impulsively; take the time to ask yourself if this is the right project for you. Give yourself time to pray and reflect. Is God inviting you to do this? Is it really what you want? Don’t rush, even when the project seems like a dream come true.

3. Analyze your time

Many people are overworked. Work, family, and household chores all take up your time. If someone asks you to do even a small favor (i.e. cooking something, or helping with an organization of a picnic), ask yourself if you really have the time to do it. Will your commitment cause your family, your rest, or your work to suffer? Just because you might have time with nothing else scheduled doesn’t mean that you have to take part in everything that comes your way. While it’s important to sacrifice ourselves for others sometimes, your duties to your family come first; we need to keep a buffer of time to deal with family issues that might arise, and to just be together with our loved ones.

4. Remember, you need time to relax

If you neglect your rest, sooner or later you will pay the price. Everyone needs some time to do nothing — time to regenerate, breathe. Rest is what recharges your batteries and gives you the energy to act and be creative. Don’t rob yourself of those essential times of respite. You’re of no use to anyone if you have a nervous breakdown.

5. Set your priorities

For unmarried people, it can be easier to get involved in many activities. Their priorities included growing as a person and developing in many different directions, gaining experience, meeting new people, and perhaps having time to go on dates.

When you’re married — and even more so after children come along — priorities change. You have to focus on your relationship with your spouse and children, growing together as a family, and supporting each other in your varied duties and projects. Because of this, it becomes harder to engage in activities outside of family and work. Each person needs to respect his or her own stage of life, and keep their priorities clear, adapting as their circumstances change.

6. Distinguish between short- and long-term obligations

A one-time event like helping someone move is different than a commitment to participate in a long-term project. Long-term projects initially may seem not seem consuming, but think about how many calls and meetings it will take to complete the project. Do you have time and energy for all of that?

Finally, remember that you don’t have to explain yourself when you refuse. You know what is best for you and your loved ones. If you feel you need to justify your answer, just say it conflicts with your earlier plans. Not everyone will understand your decision, but the fact is, you can’t please everyone all the time. The most important thing is to act according to your principles and priorities.

Text inspired by the book Professionalizing Motherhood by Jill Savage.


Read more:
Learning how to say no 

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