Learning to Say No… to Yourself

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Do you have a personal mission statement?

I do. I first drafted one about two years ago when I realized that having one would be the only thing that could help me learn to say "No." I was ridiculously overcommitted and realized that by stretching myself so thin I was living a life of mediocrity. I was good at a lot of things but great at nothing. With my personal mission statement in hand I cut out all commitments that didn't directly further that mission.

I recently revisited and revamped my statement in preparation for co-leading a workshop on the matter. Here's my current personal mission statement:

my personal mission statement, taped to my bedroom mirror

But this mission of mine still hasn't solved one problem: while this statement has helped me learn to say "No" to other people, it has not taught me how to say "No" to myself.

I have so many ideas, so many things I want to do and I'm trying to do them all at once. And that's not working. AT. ALL.

I want to take my teaching career to the next level.
I want to do more freelance writing and see my byline in all my favorite publications.
I want See Jane Write to offer more resources to its members and to the Birmingham community.
I want to host a See Jane Write conference.
I want to run a successful online magazine.
I want to be a blogging star.
I want to write a book.

I'm currently working on most of these in some capacity but not making much progress on any of them because I'm spreading myself too thin, just as I was when I was saying "Yes" to every single person who asked for my help or participation.

At the 2011 Skirt Creative Conference, which I had the privilege to attend, author Claire Cook told the ambitious ladies of letters in the audience that we can do it all, but not all at once.

It's time I took her words of wisdom to heart.

I'd like to accomplish all the goals listed above by age 40. That's seven years from now and I just so happen to have seven goals listed. So each year one goal will take priority over all others.

Now I'm going to go stare at the ceiling and try to figure out my focus for the next 12 months.

How did you learn to say "No" to yourself? 

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