When I look back over this last year and I think of where I want 2021 to take me, there’s only one word that comes to mind: Pivot. When I think of the growth I’ve done personally and professionally over the last year, there’s really no other word that does it justice. I’ve had to pivot my mindset at times, and I’ve certainly had to pivot when it comes to dealing with the ball of fire that 2020 threw at us. So in all this changing, and adapting, and learning, and growing that I’ve been trying to focus on, one thing has been clear: the importance of knowing when it’s okay to say no and when to say yes to new opportunities.
Here’s the thing about saying no: It’s hard. I’ve always been a people pleaser, and it’s probably one of my biggest downfalls. I hate to see anyone disappointed, and I hate it when I feel someone is waiting on me for something important. While I know it’s a glaring weakness, it’s also probably an attribute that’s paid off in running successful businesses. For so long I would never say no, and my availability was generally 24/7/365. Even when I was mentally and physically exhausted, I would find ways to fit in just one more thing.
What I’ve learned from trying to do it all is that all I’m really accomplishing is setting myself up for some big time burnout, often at the detriment of those who mean the most to me—the ones who are waiting for mom to come home and spend time with them instead of circling back and forth and running between meetings or on the phone yet again trying to hash out the details for another launch.
I’ve mentioned it before, but it’s definitely worth a re-share: 2020 taught me how to slow down. It helped me open my eyes and see that while I was running a business and a family and navigating my second divorce, I was also running my sanity into the ground. 2020 definitely helped me prioritize. It helped me understand that some things CAN, in fact, be pushed down the list, saved for tomorrow, or delegated to another highly capable human being who doesn’t always have the name Heidi Powell attached to her very tired mind and body.
While I do feel the push and pull with wanting to please people, I also understand that running a 24/7/365 operation will inevitably let people down, especially those who need me the most. That’s why I love the quote above from Greg McKeown (read his book, Essentialism, it’s amazing!). If we never say no, where are our priorities? Not every piece of our lives can be equal. Period.
If you don’t stand up and clearly define what’s important to you, then at the end of the day, someone else is going to do that for you. Someone else is going to determine what and how much is on your plate, and friends, believe me, it’s not always going to line up with your values and your priorities. You have to take an active part in your life and hold yourself accountable. It’s okay to set boundaries with other people, and it’s also okay to set boundaries with yourself. Saying no and setting those boundaries will actually help you thrive the most.
Sometimes we stand in our own way. We become too paralyzed with fear to make a move, or we accept too much until our very goal stops being enjoyable because we’re so burnt out with no end in sight. Knowing and understanding how full your plate should be can only be determined by you. And I get it. I get that sometimes there are things we are called to do that seem to multiply before we ever actually cross them off our to-do list. It’s life, and it happens. But it’s knowing and understanding the difference between being busy and giving into a season of overwhelm that will make or break us.
Ok, I’ve talked a lot about saying no. But, you can’t say no to everything, even though you sometimes feel like it, right? So, how do you determine when to say no and when to say yes? How do you determine what’s right for you?
How to evaluate your goals:
1. Does this goal add to and or help you create your long-term vision for your life?
2. Does it enhance your self love, or is it all about someone else? And guys, as moms, sometimes it IS all about someone else, and that someone else happens to be our kiddos. That’s okay. But know that there’s a line, and that even if your plate is full because you’re a mom, you still deserve to have a spot at the table too.
3. Does it improve your mindset? Are you excited every day to get to work on that project or that goal? Or does it feel taxing, tiring, or draining?
Really take a look at your answers. I think sometimes the right decision is clearer than we give it credit for. Learning to say no, and learning when it’s appropriate to say yes, isn’t always easy. There will always be a busy season, and I hate to admit it, but mom guilt will always be in the back of my mind. I might also feel some business guilt because my businesses really are kind of like my babies. But at the end of the day, it’s important to realize that in order to really show up—to show up for our kids, our careers, our dreams, and ourselves, we HAVE to protect our peace. And in saying yes to things that don’t serve us, we’re doing the exact opposite.
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