Isn’t it funny how sometimes you wish life was a lot longer, and sometimes it seems to be ridiculously long? But even though it seems long, we always seem to be racing through it, packing it as full as we can, making sure we get the most out of life. Sounds like the right thing to do, right?
The problem is, there are so many people, places and activities on the world that we would love to be involved with that there’s not time. We have a similar problem with our kids, when we try to explain that if we bought every toy they might enjoy, our house would have to be the size of the toy megastores that they came from. We just don’t have time to do it all. But we can see how good some of it looks, and so we keep signing up to things until we realise that we can no longer enjoy any of it at all.
And that’s just the good things. We’ve also got all kinds of ordinary, mundane or awful tasks to fit in as well. We might have so much to do that there’s no time at all for anything nice. Or at least, we can always see more that needs to be done before we allow ourselves any break.
No matter which side it falls – too much work or too many good ideas – you have to realise that you are only one person. There is a limit, and some of this stuff just won’t get done. That has to be OK. Cramming life too full is almost guaranteed to mess with your head. You won’t enjoy or achieve anything effectively and you will find that you start to resent the good things, or just burn out from the work.
This is why it’s really important to learn to say no. Seriously, even to things that you know you would like. We’re conditioned to think that more is better, or that we’re missing out on something. But that’s almost never true. It’s counter-intuitive but we really aren’t helping ourselves by having too much of a good thing.
Eating so much ice cream you feel sick.
Watching so many movies it’s 5am and you leave for work at 7.
Having so many friends you don’t know any of them very well.
Organising so many activities you never get to enjoy any of them.
It’s time to start saying no. Everything you say yes to is an implied no to something else. Yes to all that ice cream, no to a happy stomach. Yes to movies, no to sleep. Yes to more friends, no to real friendship. Yes to another activity, no to really savouring your favourite ones.
There is only one of you, and you have space for a certain amount of stuff. You can’t do more without consequences.
What can you say no to right now that will let you get more out of what you’re already doing? Or do you need to forgive yourself for only being able to do some of the infinite work that needs doing in your life?