I wrote this post a couple of weeks ago and whilst waiting to take some fitting images to go alongside it, I decided to pull out these images from a trip I took at the start of October to the Wilderness Reserve. So bare with me whilst I play catch up on the blog images but I liked these ones too much to not share. Onyi and I snapped these before dinner on the evening of our trip and they actually look rather festive, so quite fitting for now…anyway, in this post I just wanted to have a chat and share some recent thoughts and feelings…
For example, with my work I’ve always wanted it to be something I enjoy and so I have no qualms about saying no to things that maybe pay well but aren’t right for me. I understand this is a luxury to be able to say no to things but at the same time it’s something that I think is so important when working for yourself in the way that I do, where people are basically putting trust in your opinions.
I can be quite stubborn and if something I’m being asked to do for a job doesn’t feel right I’ll always dispute it, and if I’m being asked to work on something that isn’t the right fit, I’m never afraid to say no. I always know it will be worth the wait to work on something else that does fit right, which in turn I’ll enjoy a lot more and put my all into in return…On the other hand, when the types of things that are the right fit and I am keen to work on, come along all at once, I find myself all too easily saying ‘yes’ to everything. Before I know it I’m feeling as though I’ve bitten off a little more than I can chew trying to juggle it all as my own little one man band.
The same goes for social engagements. I’ve spoken before about how much I love spending time with friends and loved ones, so I am very social in that sense. If it’s an event with strangers then I’ll easily say no if I’m not in the right mood but if it’s a gathering with good friends I’ll mostly always say yes and make time for those important to me. Before I know it I have a full social calendar and if the work is busy too, then I’m back to back, burning the candle at both ends.
This is something that I find happens with me every now and then. It always seems to creep up on me without me even realising that I’ve taken on too much until it’s too late. When collaborations that are the right fit come along, it can be hard to say no, even if I am already really busy. Then when friends want to see me in between, in fear of being a let down, I continue to say ‘yes’. Before I know it I can find myself struggling to juggle it all, leaving little time for myself to well, just have to myself.
This happened again quite recently. I was saying ‘yes’ all too often and ‘no’ hardly enough.
I think my subconscious snapped before I actually did. As usually when I have too much on my plate I don’t actually realise that’s the problem and so my stress can manifest itself in other ways. I’ve never really been an anxious person in the past but these past months I felt anxiety creep up on me and finally I realised something had to give. So, after what I’ll just describe as a ‘stressful period’, I learnt to start saying ‘no’ more.
It sounds so simple. One little, two letter word, ‘No’. But each time I turned down meeting a friend for a coffee, or planning a much needed catch up, I’d feel so much guilt creeping up on me. I didn’t want to be a bad friend. And as someone who mostly works from home with a ‘flexible’ schedule I’d feel the need to over explain myself when I would say no to something. What I had to remind myself is that it’s actually okay to have time for yourself. Time to breathe. Time to not do work, not see friends, and be alone, and if you like, do nothing.
The same goes for work. Like I said, I’ve always been okay with saying no to the things that don’t feel right but to the things that do, well that one has always been a little trickier. Feeling overwhelmed and stressed to breaking point was (although awful to experience) the sign I needed to just slow things right down. It’s also made me re-assess and re-prioritise what things are really important to me in all aspects of my life.
Although saying no to certain things was hard at first, the more I got used to it, the more I felt myself regaining control and the less overwhelmed I felt. It’s not about saying no to everything but just saying no to more things. Allowing more time for myself is something I’ve realised is so important.
Saying no to work more and learning to become okay with it has been quite a freeing experience. Sometimes I forget that I’m self employed and it’s only myself cracking my own whip. I can choose to take on as much or as little work as I like. You have to define your own success/balance/happiness. I’ve realised I can’t do all of the things, all of the time and whilst being what you’d maybe describe as a driven extrovert, I still need time to be alone, recharge, and well, rest.
Saying yes to things is so celebrated but hardly anyone talks about what happens when you say yes too much. I’m adventurous, I get FOMO too easily, I love my work and I’m very social, so being a yes person comes naturally to me, but I tend to go too much in one direction and not enough in the other. I found myself turning up too much for everything and everyone else and not enough for myself. But alone time/doing nothing time is very important and I’ve realised that actually I don’t thrive off of being non-stop, back to back busy.
These past few weeks I’ve felt myself re-balancing. I feel a lot calmer. I’ve seen friends but then booked out time for myself too. I’ve said yes to work that I’ve been excited about but then turned down work and other opportunities that I know I don’t have time for. I’ve regained the power in saying no and I’m feeling a lot more balanced and happier for it.