good v. right
As someone with a history of chronic overcommitment disorder, I happen to know a thing or two about saying yes. I am very good at it. If they made trophies for people who say yes most often I would win several. However, according to the most recent available data they do not yet make these trophies, and lining your shelves with empty bottles of Valium doesn’t quite say, “I am awesome” with the same cheery confidence.
At this point in my life I no longer have a free pass when it comes to overcommitment. People get very fed up with grown ups who can’t get their sh*t together, or so it seems. The older I get and the more responsibilities I am trusted with, the higher the stakes rise and the number of people who would be disappointed in my failure keeps getting bigger. I sometimes have the urge to lock myself in a closet and demand that the rest of the world, “JUST HANG ON A MINUTE!” so I can cry it out and drink my wine in private, thank you very much. But this seldom accomplishes more than giving me a headache and making me late. There is something very female about expecting oneself to maintain one’s household, finances, social life, church obligations, leadership roles, job, and relationships with optimum attention to detail and utterly without flaw. I’m calling BS. Throw in all of the things we say we’ll do for friends, family members, bosses, and that lady from accounting who keeps asking you to write down the recipe for your chocolate chip cookies even though you’ve told her forty seven times that it’s on the bag, and it’s no wonder we’re one of the most pill popping countries in the world.
Alas, it turns out much of this is- dare I say it?- self inflicted pain. Maybe if oneself would say “No” once in a while, oneself would be far less likely to overextend and there would be fewer Mary Winklers in the world. This oneself is learning the art of separating good opportunities from right opportunities in hopes of doing a better job at life and having more time for bubble baths.
Instead of having, “Yeah, that sounds great! Let’s do it!” loaded in my mouth cannon, I’m going to work on, “I need to check my calendar and get back to you.” I plan on working my way up to, “That sounds like something I’d only do if the world ran out of glass for me to eat.” I have got to stop agreeing to 95% of the things that “sound great,” and pay more attention to the realities of my life. Realities such as: Some things cost more money than I have to spare. Some really great opportunities conflict with immovable objects on my calendar. Gas is getting very expensive and will eventually limit the amount of driving I can afford. My job right now demands 55 hours of my week, and that doesn’t leave many spare waking hours until the weekend. Sometimes knowing the difference between good and right means having to say “No” to some really, really great opportunities. I’m not gonna lie, that part sucks.
In addition to the “good v. right” lesson, it’s important to identify “important v. urgent.” Some things need to be done. Some things need to be done right now. Prioritizing these items eliminates much anguish when one is unable to pay one’s cable bill, but has some fantastic new sneakers. For the record, I have not yet missed a bill in order to buy shoes. (A flight, maybe. But not shoes.)
I plan to say “No” a lot in the next few weeks. I’m steering my life towards some major changes and that’s going to demand more time, attention, money, and sleep than I’ve made a priority lately. It seems that the bigger my goals get, the more specific my commitments must be. I will not want to say no. I promise. If any of my cherished readers get a no from me, it’s not personal. Well, actually, it’s very personal. It’s just contained wholly within my person, not directed at yours.
Let us go forward, our mouth cannons dutifully loaded with No, and conquer our destinies! …Or at least make time for a bubble bath.