What is your intention for summer 2014?
Do you plan to slow down and enjoy unscheduled downtime with your family? Is there a work or creative project you want to complete by the end of August? Do you want to reconnect with those you love and start living more in the present? Maybe you’re exhausted and need to pull out your calendar and schedule periods for rest and renewal? Or, perhaps you’re looking forward to the summer months as an opportunity to gain a new skill and reflect on any course corrections you want to make before fall?
If you’ve ever had the experience of waking up on Labor Day and realizing your summer was not quite what you had envisioned, you know how key it is to enter this season with intention.
One of the most popular tools from my first best-selling book, The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal: How to Reclaim, Rejuvenate and Re-Balance Your Life is the Nine Ways to Say No list from Chapter Four on Managing Your Energy, Setting Priorities and Saying No.
We have a finite amount of energy.
In addition to being overscheduled and overworked, most of us waste a lot of energy through endless hours in front of the TV, lost in cyberspace or engaging in unnecessary conversations. One highly effective way to harness your attention and energy so you can focus on what really matters, is to say “no” to those things that are non-essential and to the “shoulds” so you can say “yes” to what matters most.
It’s like exercising—the more you practice saying no, the stronger you become. Here’s some helpful language from my book to support you in this new skill:
Nine Creative Ways to Say No
1.Just No: “Thanks, I’ll have to pass on that.” (Say it, then shut up.)
2.The Gracious No: “I really appreciate you asking me, but my time is already committed.”
3.The “I’m Sorry” No: “I wish I could, but it’s just not going to work right now.”
4.The “It’s Someone Else’s Decision” No: “I promised my coach (therapist, etc.) I wouldn’t take on any more projects right now. I’m working on creating more work/life balance.”
5.The “My Family is the Reason” No: “Thanks so much for the invite, but that’s the day of my son’s soccer game, and I never miss those.” (Consider hiring a coach to help you get clarity here.)
6.The “I Know Someone Else” No: “I just don’t have time right now. Let me recommend someone who may be able to help you.”
7.The “I’m Already Booked” No: “I appreciate you thinking of me, but I’m afraid I’m already booked that day.”
8.The “Setting Boundaries” No: “Let me tell you what I can do …” Then limit the commitment to what will be comfortable for you.
9.The “Not No, But Not Yes” No: “Let me think about it, and I’ll get back to you.”
As you look at the months ahead and consider a new work, family or volunteer project or commitment, remember that while important, it will take away time and valuable energy from your heart’s greatest desire. Pause, reflect on how you really want to experience the next three months and remember, “Things which matter most should never be at the mercy of things which matter least.” (Goethe)
I would love to hear your intentions for this summer on our Live Inside Out Facebook page and encourage you to find some quiet time this weekend (or perhaps consider taking a retreat with me) to consider what you really want to experience over the coming months.
INVITE: Would you love to become adept at saying “no,” managing your energy and enhancing work-life balance? One of our favorite sayings in our Personal Renewal Group program–which focuses on helping women learn to manage their energy and embrace self-care–is, “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should!” Learn more about facilitating or joining a group in your local community.
Subscribe here to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by work-life balance speaker/author and Career Strategists president, Renée Peterson Trudeau. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping and more. Thousands of women in ten countries are becoming RTA-Certified Facilitators and leading/joining self-care groups based on her award-winning curriculum. She is the author of The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal and Nurturing the Soul of Your Family: 10 Ways to Reconnect and Find Peace in Everyday Life. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and 12 year-old son. More on her background here.