I have a friend who calls me the queen of good boundaries. She says it with love and I take it as a compliment.

What she means is that I’ve learned to say “no” and not feel bad about it.

This wasn’t always true. I used to get so excited about things that I said, “Yes!” to every opportunity that came my way. I never gave a second thought to how it would affect me, my family or my other commitments….until it was too late.

I can’t tell you the number of people I’ve let down because I’ve backed out of something I never should have committed to in the first place.

I have a tendency to get overwhelmed if my schedule is too full. I also have panic attacks when I start feeling overwhelmed. Not good.

The older I get the more I realize that it’s ok to take care of myself.

So with that in mind I made the decision several years ago to make learning to say “no” a priority. Here’s how I did it.

  1. A friend held me accountable to saying “no” to everything for one full year. – This may seem extreme but at the time I was battling a depression that I believe was partially brought on by burn out. As part of my healing process it was important to me that I develop a good habit of saying no.
  2. I talk with Wonderful Hubby about all volunteer opportunities before I commit. – This is just good practice if you’re married. Anything that takes my time and energy affects my entire family not just me…so it makes sense that I would talk with my husband before committing to anything.
  3. I make sure there is an end date to everything I start. – This is so important to me. It’s not that I won’t commit to ongoing projects but for now I usually don’t.  When I do take on something long-term I need a date once a year that I can choose to step down or recommit. If I get overwhelmed it helps to see a light at the end of the tunnel.

“Yes” used to be my default answer and it was not a good thing. Now my default answer is “no”.

Saying “no” to some (ok, lots) of things means I get to say “yes” to the things that matter to me the most. I say “yes” to family dinners, and movie mattress night, and spontaneous visits with family or friends.

So, I’ve become the queen of good boundaries. How about you? What are you saying no to so that you can say yes to something else?