I am a self confessed people pleaser. I think most of us want to be liked in one way shape or form but when we take on tasks for others at the detriment of our own personal goals and well being it really isn’t healthy.
For any of you that have ever been on a flight you will know that you should put on your own gas mask before helping someone else fit theirs. It’s a great analogy to keep in mind for every area of life really, because if you are feeling frustrated and exhausted from doing everything for everyone else all the time eventually you are going to get poorly and be no use to anyone.
We all only have 24 hours in a day and at least 8 of these should be dedicated to sleep!! Well, I know I need at least eight hours if I want to function properly the next day. But the point to remember is, if you are saying yes to one thing filling any time in your life, then you are saying NO to something else that you could be dedicating those precious hours to. Given the option, do you really want to do whatever it is you are asked to do/help with right now? If not then you probably won’t want to do it later either. Just say no right now.
It’s not about saying no to everything though because sometimes when friends and family are in need then nothing else matters in those moments. It’s just about making more conscious decisions about what it is you want from your life before you put what someone else wants first. It may help to put down on paper a list of all the things that you actually want to be, do or have and memorise it. When you are working to someone else's agenda you will not be propelling yourself forward towards your own dreams, you’ll just be sitting in a boat that is spinning in the middle of a pond that never gets from A to B.
My own experience of this is with creative projects. My heart would yearn to get stuck into some art work, sewing or such like but I would never find time to do it – because I was always allowing my time to be sucked up by less important tasks. By bringing this up and talking it through with my own coach I came to the realisation that to remedy this was simple and all I needed to do was to put some non negotiable ‘creative space’ in my diary each week. I’m now working on sewing some black out curtains for the nursery, as well as the wooden pelmet boards and I have the blocks of time in my diary necessary to make sure I’m able to get it done.
When you start to say no to others you will probably feel guilty at first but eventually you should find it empowering, and truthfully, other people will wish they did the same because you will become happier and therefore more productive in the long run.
But be prepared that there will be some people who will try and use your good nature to their advantage, they won’t accept your new found clear concise ‘no’s’ or the valid reasons behind them (you may already have one or two people who spring to mind who are like this) These are the people you’ve probably already noticed you don’t even really enjoy being around as they drain your energy. Allow them to simply slip away and take no notice of their hostility towards the new non compromising you. You’re better off without them. If it’s a family member that you can’t simply be rid of then make sure you are prepared for any calls/meetings with them and manage your boundaries carefully, sometimes meeting on neutral territory rather than their office or house can really help.
We’d love to hear from you on this subject. What are your personal ‘important’ tasks that you keep putting off because you are constantly tackling other people's ‘urgent’ agendas? Do you have a top tip you can share with the group on how to combat our people pleasing ways?
Based on her own research, knowledge, personal and business experiences to date Polly writes regular blogs based on the themes of Health, Wealth and Happiness for Professional Spring. A support and networking community of like minded business women set up by Polly and her two friends Jacquie and Rupal.