Need to switch off? Make “No” a complete sentence.
My Aunt Barb, who has had a successful career as a teacher, minister and author, gave me some good advice when I started my leadership coaching practice almost 15 years ago.She said for those of us who are constantly ‘on’, who have careers serving others (whether that means clients, customers or a congregation), we need to find time amid the regular summer socializing to take time for ourselves. To be ‘emotionally unavailable’. Which means finding the space to get away and switch off. No work conversations, family dramas or organizing playdates. I took her advice to heart and have made an effort over the years to do just that. For me, that’s meant making sure I book at least one summer solo trip with my husband and kids where I’m just with them, usually on a beach, with no phone. You have to ask yourself what switching off means to you. The hard part is setting boundaries and saying no to make it happen. Because saying no can leave you feeling guilty.
If you’ve spent your summer saying yes to a series of family and friend gatherings, outings, extra car pools and houseguests while still trying to maintain 100 per cent productivity at work, you may be ready to practice saying No. Last month I wrote about high performers needing to find a way to reset unhealthy work patterns. It’s time to go a bit further, get selfish and find some extended time to recharge!
Jack Canfield, my mentor and teacher of the Success Principles™ over the past year, says that “Successful people know how to say no without feeling guilty. To them ‘No’ is a complete sentence.” It’s not always saying no to things you don’t want to do. What if you get a request to sit on a committee for an amazing project you’d just love to be a part of. Only thing is – they are having a two-day offsite right in the middle of your planned vacation. Jack says he reverts back to a phrase: “It’s not against you; it’s for me.” In the case of the committee, you would say, ‘as much as I’d like to attend the kick off, I committed this vacation time to my family. It’s not against you; it’s for my own well being and family time.” Hard to argue with that. Come up with a phrase that works for you. Re-read my Happy No blog if that helps, or have a look at these other resources about setting boundaries: When I say No, I Feel Guilty by Manuel J. Smit and How to Say No Without Feeling Guilty by Patti Breitman and Connie Hatch.
Now that I’ve added Certified Canfield Trainer in The Success Principles™ to my toolbox, I’m looking forward to sharing some of the material in workshops starting in the Fall. One of my favorite principles is Taking 100% Responsibility For Your Life. It fits with taking ownership and setting boundaries. In the meantime, I hope you find a way to be selfishly successful in the coming weeks!