When I am invited to do something that doesn’t help me accomplish the goals I’ve laid out for myself, it’s always clear that I should say no. But it’s hard. I feel like I need to explain myself, or give some kind of lame excuse. So, here’s what I’ve realized. When someone asks something of me, I have one obligation: to be honest with my response.
If I need to decline a request, sometimes I feel the obvious awkwardness that I’ve created, and I want to explain myself. Rather than blathering on about my reasons, though, my best approach is simply to be vague. I don’t owe a detailed explanation.
- Decline respectfully.
- Don’t overshare.
- Be vague as you can. Specific as you must.
- Use, “I can’t.”
I’m so old that I actually knew of folks who carried 3×5 index cards in their pocket, and every time they thought of an idea for something, they’d write it down. Then, they’d file those cards, and occasionally review those ideas for anything worthwhile.
I’m a big believer in capturing every idea, but my weapon of choice is Evernote. I use it on my phone and on my MacBook. You can snap photos, scan documents, drag stuff from email, and do audio recordings. And all of it is easy to search, so I don’t have to think hard about where to file it.
The tool isn’t critical, but find some way to capture every idea you have. Trust me, you won’t remember half of them. And most of the time, they’re not great. But it’s worth it to capture that one really, really good idea.
I’ve started listening to podcasts or audiobooks on my morning walk, and for the most part, I’m liking it. It’s a big change for me, because for the last year or more I’ve walked in complete silence.
Actually, that’s not true. I was usually talking to myself.
While I had hoped to be able to think while I walk, I’ve discovered that I actually can’t seem to keep my mind trained on one topic for long enough to come to any conclusions.
I basically can’t think without writing something down. It forces me to focus.
So, I’m testing whether there’s more value for me to have input on my walk or silence. We’ll see.
You may be a chronic over-committer like me. I learned something that radically altered my over-committing.
The biggest challenges are when someone asks you to do something. You’re agreeable, and doggone likeable, so you want to reply with an immediate, “yes.” But, later you probably wish you hadn’t.
Next time, just create a space to think by using a statement that buys you some time, and allows you to choose your obligations. Just say, “That sounds really interesting. Before I can commit, though, let me check my schedule, and get back with you.”
Now, you’ve got a chance to align your schedule with your priorities before you commit.
You know that feeling you get that you’re missing something? Or the envy of some successful person who appears to be having a wonderful time and apparently has a fantastic family, a powerful career, the adoration of millions, enough money to last a lifetime, and the smile to prove it?
Yeah, I know that feeling. I wrestle with envy an awful lot.
It’s easy to think that someone else has it all together. It’s also easy to think that you can be amazing at everything. You simply can’t. So, choose your priority, and allow other interests to fall in place below it.
Oh, and read this book.
Maybe I’ve corrupted the good ol’ Puritan work ethic, but it seems like when I’m working hard I feel useful, and when I’m resting I feel lazy.
But the more I learn about how our bodies and mind work, the more I’m convinced that appropriate rest and downtime are far more important than I ever imagined.
So, I’m trying to embrace sleep, and plenty of it. I’m trying to accept sitting still, being calm, and sometimes even being bored.
You are on news overload.
The truth is that you don’t need to know everything that is going on. The media/internet/socialworld all thrive on getting eyeballs on their stuff, so just because they’re talking about it doesn’t mean it’s important.
Choose when and where you consume your news. Do it on your terms.
When you hear a piece of news, ask:
- What action can I take because of this news?
- If you can’t take any action, you’re creating a news burden.
- How do I feel/react when I heard/see this news?
- If it doesn’t stir action or create peace, you’re creating unnecessary drama in your life.