Life Lessons

The Fine Art of Saying “NO”

I don’t know about you, but I have a lengthy To Do List going at all times.

I think most women do, it’s just in our DNA. My list is ginormous…and getting more-so by the week. I may have to assign it it’s own zip code soon and my poor calendar blocks are so filled with notes, tasks, and appointments that I can barely see the actual date.

Then I have my “when I get caught up” list. You know, all those loose-end tasks that are filler for days when I may have an extra five minutes. Things like “get mammogram” or “check into new glasses.” Sadly, these are what I deem as low level on the Priority Scale, but is still stuff that needs to get done at some point. They are my “when I get caught up”  task that go along with all of the other 147, 000 tasks I need to complete.

The problem is, I never seem to get caught up. I have joined the legions of women who can categorize themselves in the Chronic Syndrome of Working Moms ( a.k.a burning the candle at both ends) and because of this, my “when I get caught up”  list sits and festers. Hangs over my head like a 500 pound black cloud from h*ll. Just about the time I think I may have a prayer of tackling The List, life throws me a curve-ball in the way of work issues, strep throat, dead refrigerators, a lone red sock that slipped into our white laundry load.

It’s like the game of Stop And Go my kids play. If you listen to instructions and focus, you’ll get to the finish line. If you miss a command, get distracted, fall over a stick and blow it, you’re back to the starting point. Something has to give because those Lists and Projects have a way of growing. multiplying just like those damn stray socks on top of the dresser.

BUT wait…(dramatic pause) there is a way. Things can change IF…(dramatic-er pause) we Ask.For.Help.

The Fine Art of Saying NO

Asking for help is never easy, but it’s kinda like exercising a muscle. It gets easier and you get stronger as time goes on. For me, taking a hard look at the number of directions I was running, and how much I was trying to do alone was pretty eye-opening. If I was to keep going on the Headlong-Rush-Path-of-Life I was on, I saw a future fitting for a wrap-around blazer in a lovely shade of white with complimentary rubber room.

And here’s the thing: I promise you if you do ask for help, you won’t be labeled with a Red Letter “W” (for wimp), run out of town or be inducted into any sort of Hall Of Shame in your community because you admitted you can’t do it all. And if that does happen…..MOVE. Your community is apparently full of icky shallow people anyway.

There’s also that one magical word you can utter when an overly demanding client or employer asks for you assistance on a project (on the weekend), your PTA pressures you to bake 19 dozen muffins for the bake sale or well-meaning family member asks if you can babysit “just for a little while” (like 8 hours). I struggle with this magical word. It eludes me sometimes. Gets caught in my throat. So let’s work on it together, shall we?

OK, all together now. Pucker your lips, flex your diaphragm, dig real deep and repeat after me…. “NO”

Was that empowering or what? If you think it sounds harsh, do what my friend and artist Jennifer Maroney does. She has fine-tuned this magical word into something more diplomatic, and something that doesn’t completely slam the door on opportunity. Her spin on the magic word?

“I’d love to, BUT NOT AT THIS TIME”.

Golden, baby.

Now of course there are the things you can’t ask for help on. You can’t outsource your mammogram or eyeglasses appointment, but there is the next best thing. The next best thing would be to acknowledge it, schedule it, and DO IT. The feeling of accomplishment when you can tick these items off your dreaded List? Priceless.

Some people are blessed with the skill to “sense” when someone is in need of help, most are not. I honestly know of NO HUMAN with Spidey Senses or an internal Zoltan the Fortune Teller prediction process. Bottom line is that no one can read your mind so part thy lips and SPEAK. Ask for help if you need it.

What’s is it that you need to ask for help on?

Please share!