Resolve To Say No

New Year’s resolutions tend to be all about adding things to our lives: we aim to exercise more, increase our travel frequency, up our time spent reading or spending time with friends and family. And while all of those resolutions most certainly have merit, there’s another type of commitment to consider: one of simplification.

Take a while to assess all the commitments in your life. Now, decide which of those things are optional versus mandatory (hint: more are optional than you probably realize). From there, think about which of these commitments truly make you feel fulfilled and energized, rather than drained.

If you’re an over-scheduler, you might come up with a long list of optional commitments that you theoretically enjoy, but since you’re engaged in so many of those activities they all start to feel daunting. Or, you may have just a handful of commitments, but realize just one is truly motivating.

Okay, so you have your list. Now it’s time to start the hard part: the saying “no” part. It doesn’t have to happen all at once, but when you’re able to separate the things that help enhance who you are, as opposed to the things that leave you feeling cranky or stressed, you’ll start to get a sense for what commitments you should continue to pursue versus which to politely turn down.

And this saying “no” shouldn’t just apply to ongoing commitments, either. Think about some ways you can start to decline when it’s appropriate to do so. Your friend asks you to make items for an upcoming bake sale, but you don’t know how you’ll squeeze baking into your week? Turn it down (or perhaps offer to donate monetarily to the sale instead if it’s for a cause you support). Your sister wants you to tag along to a hot yoga class with her on an already busy weekend? It’s okay to take a rain check.

We can’t do or be everything, and the sooner we start to recognize that and intentionally simplify our lives as a result, the sooner the world will start getting better, healthier, less stressed and more passionate versions of each of us.

Here’s to a year full of “no’s,” and with it a year of growth.