Wouldn’t it be great if we only had to do the things we enjoyed in life?
You might think this is impossible. You may doubt the possibility of only doing the things we enjoy.
I’m writing this article today because I have figured out how to do the things I enjoy doing — and say no to the things I don’t enjoy doing.
The best part about it, is I don’t feel guilty about saying no!
Learning to Say No without Guilt
I’m an overachiever and I like to make people happy.
When someone asks me to take part in something, I’m the person who jumps on it right away. I commit with a big smile on my face, not because of the actual activity but because I get joy out of helping people and making them happy.
The challenge I had was after saying yes, I’d look in the mirror and see a frustrated, tired person staring back at me. Sure, I was making someone else happy, but I wasn’t happy.
I was spending my time doing things I didn’t enjoy.
Doing things that weren’t moving me toward my goals. Was it worth it to feel like this just to make someone else happy?
I didn’t think so, so I said no to things. But when I did, I felt so much guilt.
I had to change my mindset — and I did this in 2 Ways
1) What’s Your Thing? Name it
Last year I picked 5 themes in my life to focus on. These 5 things are important in my life and they are activities I enjoy doing. Some of these things are areas where I wanted to improve.
I then made a conscious decision, if any activity fell outside these 5 themes, I would say no and I wouldn’t feel guilty about it.
What was the outcome?
Since focusing on these specific areas of my life, amazing opportunities have come in my life and I could accept them with delight.
- I accepted the role of a communications officer for a spiritual group (writing, faith)
- I was part of the music team for a spiritual retreat weekend (music, faith)
- I started my blog Becoming Faithful where I write about life and faith. Also, I increased my writing here on Medium (writing, faith)
- I focused on eating better and dropped 30 lbs in 4 months (health)
- I work on my marriage every day. It’s easy for things to get in the way and there have been times I’ve taken my marriage for granted. Keeping my marriage on the forefront reminds me its top priority. (marriage)
By focusing on these 5 themes, it helped me stay focused on the activities that moved me toward my goals.
When someone asked me to do something — I’d look at my top 5 list and see if it fit. If it didn’t fit with what I was trying to do with my life, I would say no.
What’s amazing, is I didn’t feel guilty about saying no because I clearly understood what my life themes were and why I chose these goals.
2) Grade Your Activities — Do the “A” things and let Go of Your “B” and “C” things.
Rob Bell calls the activities that move you toward ‘your one thing’ or your goals are your “A” things. When you say no to certain things, it’s not that they are bad things, but they are “B” things. They are other people’s “A” things, but not your “A” things.
Once you discover your strengths and what you like to do, grade those activities with an A and all other things a B and C.
For example, I’m building a side hustle where I help people find their own path toward faith. I will do this through writing, teaching and creating faithful communities. I grade these activities an A.
Everything else: building a website, designing a Faith Building Guide, social media images etc, I will freelance these activities out.
I could easily do these things and they are important to building my side hustle — but I don’t love these things. They are not my “A” things.
What are your “A” things? Are you spending your valuable time doing B and C things?
The more I learn about myself and become self-aware, the easier it is to say no and not feel guilty. I have more energy, I am more productive and happier because of it.
If you find you’re doing things you don’t enjoy doing or struggle with guilt when you say no, spend time in introversion. Figure out what’s important to you and what activities make you the best person you can be.
Name your themes, grade your activities and start saying no.
It’s challenging at first, but eventually it becomes much easier!