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Protecting Your Time and Mental Health

A girlfriend of mine and I were enjoying coffee and a typical conversation when she said something that truly struck me.

"It's ok for you life to look the way you want it to look."

While she was saying this in the context of a conversation she had with someone else, and not directly as advice to me, it struck me as such a simple concept that so many people don't even consider. As I think about the culture we live in, I realize how many people say things like, "I'm too busy," "I'm running late," "I'm sorry something else came up," and "I need to cancel." While we all do have legitimate reasons at times for these statements to apply to our lives, are you finding that these statements are just too applicable to your life as a whole? Do you find that you're overbooked, overcommitted and overworked? This is common, but that doesn't necessarily make it healthy.

Let me connect the dots here a little bit more. There's a difference between being busy and being overcommitted. There's a difference between being active and involved, and being over burdened. What's the difference? It's in your head.

Think about it. Are you saying "yes" to projects, groups, events, and parties simply because you feel obligated? Did you ever consider, "It's ok for your life to look the way you want it to look?" Wow! What freedom there is in that statement! Are you willing to try to think that it might be ok to decline an invitation if you would rather stay home and read a book? Are you willing to take the risk of "upsetting" someone by setting protective hedge around your time and declining a volunteer opportunity now and then? If you begin to do this, it may surprise you that the only person "upset" about your saying no is you.

While there are some deep-seeded issues regarding co-dependency, insecurity, and peer pressure potentially at work, setting boundaries around your time isn't selfish. On the contrary, saying "no" and protecting your time is a simple way to begin to feel like you CAN make your life look the way you want it to look, and it IS ok for you to say "yes" when you want to, and "no" when you should. Prioritize what's truly important to YOU, and begin to carve away the commitments that are weighing you down, and you may be surprised how good it feels to protect your time.

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