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Just say no.

Today’s Think Kit prompt:

tk4Man these guys at Smallbox are good. They create such thought provoking and difficult prompts…and I really like this blogging movement so far. I have struggled with blogging lately, and not all of it has to do with not running. When I first started this blog, so few people read it which gave me freedom to write whatever I wanted, how I wanted. I could talk about anything from Danica Patrick to what I dreamed about the night before. But then people started following my blog and the pressure built. It was all in a good way until it wasn’t. I started thinking more about how people would react to my blog than my intention for writing. I was more concerned about the “haters” (for lack of better word) and started to overfilter. My writing wasn’t as carefree and raw. I know that by blogging, I am opening myself up to the public: the good, the bad and the ugly. But the ugly made me hide. Until Think Kit. It’s the jump start I needed to get back to why I started this blog to begin with: for me. These prompts from Think Kit have become my soft landing into finding my blogging groove again.

Pardon the sidetrack… what were we talking about? Oh wise decisions, yes.

My wisest decision this year (and “decision” is a bit strong considering it’s still a work in progress) is to be ok with saying no.

no

In the past, I said yes to everything. Do you want to be part of this project? Yes. Hi. I am a stranger, do you want to meet for lunch? Yes. Do you want to raise money for X. Yes. Would you be interested in being part of this? Yes. Want to run this race? Yes. Saying yes was a big part of who I am: being involved in everything and with my finger in every pie. Often people ask me how I have more than 24 hours in my day because multitasking, planning and organizing my time comes pretty naturally to me. But it was an exhausting way of life. Not because I was actually tired, but because I wasn’t enjoying a good portion of the things I was saying yes to.

After the Woman of the Year campaign, I had, what felt like, an immense amount of time on my hands. I balanced two full time jobs for 10 weeks and when one of them was over, I had time to spare. Typical of Meggie, I was ready to slide the next big thing into its space. But my therapist (yes I have a therapist) urged me to do just the opposite. She said she was going to hold my feet to the fire to say no. I was quite nervous about this actually. Busy is my happiness and what would I do with the extra time? She told me that I should spend it being mindful. And that mindful doesn’t have to be as dramatic as it sounds. It’s not necessarily finding my “center” in hot yoga or going on long walks by myself to find the beauty in nature. It’s making time for what matters and being purposeful in relaxing my mind. She told me that this could mean something as simple as sitting on the couch on Sunday afternoons and binge watching “Scandal” episodes. So I started saying no.

When people I don’t know ask to meet, I don’t immediately shut them down, but I ask about the agenda to determine if it’s a good use of time. When my heart wasn’t into running another marathon after Chicago, I did the half. I have stopped nurturing one-sided friendships and have caught up on a lot of TV series. :) I have spent more time with my family, got more strategic at my job and upped my frequency at Crossfit. I’ve narrowed down the charities I work with and have some really exciting things in the works with The Sussy Project. Whereas before I was the jack of all trades, master of none, I am now becoming inch wide and a mile deep on the things that are most important in my life.

But I still sometimes waffle on this idea of saying no. And one of the biggest hiccups to this decision came after I watched Condoleezza Rice speak at my work conference. She is incredible and much more accomplished than even I knew. After listening to her speech, I felt the urge to sign up for everything and anything that could help me grow. Condi gets up at 4am (not 6:31am) to workout. Condi has never taken her foot off the accelerator and surely she never stops to relax. While I am playing chess at a bar with my friends, she is hosting dignitaries to talk about the Soviet Union! If I want to do big things, then I need to work when no one else is working. I need to sacrifice now so that the rewards come later. This is not the time in my life to back down, it’s the time to say yes. Right? Well, my therapist calmed me down and told me that 1) I am not Condi. (Point. Therapist). 2) Things don’t have to be so black and white. It’s not that I have to say no to everything. I just have to process, analyze and decide what I say yes to. 3) This doesn’t mean I am letting off the accelerator. It means that I have the wisdom and maturity to invite the right things into my life. And lastly (4), Condi surely does the same thing. There is no way she can say yes to everything and everyone. She prioritizes, she triages and she spends her very valuable time on the things that matter most. She is mindful.

I still welcome every opportunity that comes my way. I keep my ears to the ground and my eyes peeled. But I make less impulsive decisions and when I do say yes, I say yes fully.

 

9 Comments Post a comment
  1. Amanda F. #

    I am much like you in that I’m happy when I’m busy and happiness begets productivity so I can become busier. My biggest problem is I have my “I want to be Condi” moments as often as I have my “let’s blow off today and day drink with friends” urges. The difficulty is that both scenarios bring me pleasure and satisfaction (and I never regret either) but can be challenging to balance. I think that I am decently successful in my professional life but I could be a superstar if I were less social with fewer outside interests. But that sounds like a terrible life. I also don’t want to be a schlub or average at my work (because I really, really like being good at things) so I have to sacrifice carefree living or extracurriculars to push beyond the minimum. This, of course, sounds like a “work-life balance” lecture that is often reserved for working mothers (because really, how many fathers spend a lot of time worrying about that balance – this is not a stereotype, I’m a social scientist with studies to back up this shit). So point 1, I think non-mothers and fathers should spend time thinking and talking about work-life balance where the life could be CrossFit or vacations with friends and not necessarily your kid’s ballet recital. And two, I have found that when I sacrifice non-work activities, I am no more productive because I’m usually feeling lonely and isolated or just bored. Activities and people give me energy, and energy makes me more productive. In conclusion, I also take a lot of naps.

    December 5, 2013
    • mdials #

      Well said girl. I think you are spot on – how to balance going completely after it as it relates to work and still having fun and those real life moments. I love talking about this stuff with you because it’s your craft!

      December 5, 2013
  2. “An inch wide and a mile deep” – love it. I have to admit that I too am much happier since I started saying NO more often. I’m an introvert, and being too busy makes me fall apart – even several nights of FUN things on the calendar put me over the edge. Trust your intuition – you’ll become natural at saying NO when you should. Enjoy your free(er) schedule!

    December 5, 2013
    • mdials #

      It sounds like there are a lot of us who are learning this lesson. And I am guessing it will always be a work in progress! THanks for your comment!

      December 5, 2013
  3. No is such a terrible word. I have to agree with you. I use to say yes to everything also, until I just could not take it anymore. Too many yesses stressed me out so much that my life fell apart. I still struggle with it, but I know that I can only handle so much.

    December 5, 2013
    • mdials #

      And knowing is half the battle :) Thanks, Shaun!

      December 5, 2013
  4. Gwyn #

    My friend Tess posted a quote on Facebook last week that I want to be my mantra in 2014: “Stop the glorification of busy.” I also struggle to say no when there is so much to see, do and accomplish! I’ve been forced to lay low the last few months, and it has been wonderful to just BE.

    December 5, 2013
  5. Amanda #

    I, for one, am glad that you are back to blogging more. I just discovered your blog back in May and really enjoy your writing style, whether it’s about running or life in general. I even went back and started reading your blog from the beginning. It was like a book I couldn’t put down. So I say keep it coming! :)

    December 6, 2013
    • mdials #

      Thanks, dear. You’re so sweet

      December 6, 2013

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