“[Focus] comes from saying no to a thousand things to make sure we don’t get on the wrong track or try to do too much.”– Steve Jobs
One thing that high achievers, busy people, and perfectionists tend to struggle with, almost more than anything else, is getting overcommitted and overwhelmed.
There are so many times when busy people wish they could say no to staying late at work, taking on an extra project, joining another committee, going to that networking event, but end up doing it all anyway and feeling burned out.
Another huge downside to all of the overworking and overcommitting (besides the obvious fatigue) is that it contributes to the feeling of “time crunch” and never having “enough” time.
The illusion of “not enough”–whether it’s how much you’re doing, how much you’ve accomplished, or how much time you have–is a major source of unnecessary stress.
Yet many clients I’ve worked with have told me that setting limits and saying “no” is an even bigger challenge for them.
So why is it so hard for so many of us to say “no”?
When it comes to the difficulties many people have
“They’ll get mad at me.”
“I’ll get in trouble.”
“They’ll be disappointed, and I can’t stand disappointing people.”
Any of these look familiar?
Most of the time it comes from a good place: you’re a conscientious person who doesn’t want to give less than your best. You set high expectations for yourself, and anything less seems like it would be falling short, letting yourself and others down, or “failing.”
Yet if you’re a “caretaker” who always puts others’ needs first while neglecting your own, you eventually can become so worn out that ironically, it’s difficult to help or take care of anyone at all.
But the bottom line
I can relate. More than once I’ve been guilty of biting off more than I can chew.
But when it comes to the worries about falling short or letting others down–perfectionistic hallmarks to be sure–it’s important to keep a
We often expect much more from ourselves than we do of other people.
Similarly, other people usually aren’t holding us to the same impossibly high standards that we hold ourselves to. It’s about mindset and keeping things in perspective.
Learning to set reasonable limits on your work and commitments is a key skill in dialing down the stress and regaining control of your life. Below you’ll find some tips on how to do this.
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