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The Most Important Thing

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I’m writing this because I’m procrastinating.

I know.

Even the self-proclaimed virtuous have vices.

Truth is… I’m supposed to be getting ready to do “this thing.”

You know what I mean, right?

“This thing” you agreed to weeks ago despite the fact that you didn’t want to do it then either.

But – of course – at the time saying yes was easier than saying no.

Then again, it’s always easier to reply with a quick “happy to help” than to thoughtfully explain why you can’t.

So that’s what you did.

Again.

And “this thing” that seemed so far away when you agreed to it is here.

And so are you.

Committed.

Irritated.

And by “you” I mean me.

What’s really frustrating is that I teach time management – and what’s really really frustrating is that I’ve even been on quite the soapbox lately when it comes to calendar control.

Here’s an hour-long interview where I talk about it.

And for those of you who like Cliffs Notes, here’s a 15-minute version. (Bonus: This interviewer has an Australian accent.)

Point being: I know better than this.

You do too.

So why is it so friggn’ hard to say “no” - especially when it’s not that hard at all?

Case in point: A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend a mindfulness retreat with a teacher I deeply respect. After I introduced myself, told him how much I loved his work, and mentioned that I’d flown 8,000 miles to be there, I asked if he would like to be a guest on a new podcast I’m working on.

Surely, with a build-up like that he couldn’t refuse, right?

Wrong.

He just looked me and said, “I don’t think so.”

No apology.

No long-winded explanation.

Just the truth. Delivered kindly yet directly.

Eventually, he did go on to say that his schedule had gotten busier and so he was choosing to stay focused on his top priorities.

Ah, yes. Those.

So many of us (myself included at times) think we know our top priorities, and yet we don’t fully allow those priorities to guide how we live.

We say “yes” when we don’t mean it.

We engage with Facebook over our kids.

We willingly eat chemicals.

In other words, we’re too busy to make the most important things – like self-care, family, and health – the most important things.

Knock. Knock. Peeps.

This is your one and only beautiful, wild, heartbreaking, glorious, and not-so-steady life. How are you spending it?

Don’t wait for an Earth-shaking moment of clarity – the diagnosis, the break-up, the loss of whatever – to get clear on what matters most.

Get clear right now.

And schedule your time around those things.

I’m in too.

Well, as soon as I get back from this thing.

 

P.S. I’m serious. There will be no blog post from me next week as I’m spending some good old-fashioned, disconnected quality time with my family. I hope you’re doing the same this summer. Xo

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Elizabeth Gaucher July 5, 2013 at

Love it. My maternal grandmother was a master of this. She would smile sweetly and say, “Oh, no thank you. I just can’t do that.” Then — and she explained this to me once herself — the key is to stop talking. No explanation, no excuse, just NO thank you.

It’s difficult because the other person is waiting for you to tell them why. You can do that, but you sure don’t have to.

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emily July 5, 2013 at

Agreed. The key is *definitely* to stop talking. /EB

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Sybil F. Stershic July 5, 2013 at

As a wise person once told me, “‘No.’ is a complete sentence.”

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emily July 5, 2013 at

Someone told me “Every time you say no to something, you say yes to something else.” I keep that in mind a lot too. /EB

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Susan Platt July 5, 2013 at

A.M.E.N. that is all.

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Pam July 5, 2013 at

My daughter when she was little was famous for saying, “No thank you. I still love you though. I like your shoes.” (with a sweet smile) Whenever she said that, she meant, “No.”

Once my daughter told someone, “No thank you. I still love you though. I like your big feet.” The other person replied, “Thank you Shelby.” I pulled my daughter aside and said, “You’re supposed to compliment people.” And my daughter replied, “I did.”

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