I stopped writing in my TO DO LIST pad a month ago after realizing the futility and somewhat negative effects it was having on my psyche. The list had swelled to gross proportions and ended up not only taking up too much of my time but left me somewhat panicked at the end. I was filling pages and going forward but with no end in sight. The only real pleasure I had in writing that list came from choosing which Gourmet Scented SMENS Pen I’d be using. I even tried post-it notes. But they were ugly and I spent more time trying to rearrange them visually than dealing with the responsibilities and tasks that I’d written on them.
Of course you and I know all of this has nothing to do with lists or post-it notes.
It’s really hard for me to say No to projects or situations that appeal to my interests–especially when adventure and learning are at the heart of what makes me happy. It took some time for me to understand this about myself. That line between ‘work’ and ‘play’? It doesn’t really exist for me.
Years ago when I left my big company job that I enjoyed and started to pay bills in all manner of crazy ways, I had to more than ever reevaluate my place–emotionally, financially, professionally, geographically. From a practical standpoint, I needed money to keep myself healthy. That’s number one for me, but it’s not enough. Sure, Am I gonna get paid? was always a question tied to my process. But ‘paid’ isn’t simply immediate hard cash. I wanted to grow a healthy social network to engage in and support my and others’ endeavors. I have a full-time job again working for a big company but all of that–the evaluation, the lessons of payment–remains with me.
So here’s what I’m doing now.
It’s simple to say but hard to execute. JUST SAY NO. You have more than enough. Quality over quantity.
Saying No is pure liberation. Since I’ve started doing this, my loved ones have slowly stopped prefacing invitations with, “If you’re not working…” and my neighbors no longer show surprise in the elevator and ask questions like, “Oh, have you been traveling?”
I’m not an idiot. Of course if an incredible opportunity presents itself, I’d consider it, knowing I’m doing so with a clearer head (and desk) and most likely will accept. Even if I do pass, the opportunities will still come. And even better, at some point I’ll probably even start asking for help with my own projects and ideas I’ve left sitting and unrealized for far too long.
So now I have a new list: Just Say No.