How to Stop Saying Yes and Get Back in Control

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Do you have too much on your plate?

Maybe you enjoy taking bites at your list, but hate feeling overwhelmed.

Or maybe you think your plate is too small so your start working evenings and early mornings. That works...for a while.

Little by little life can pile on the responsibilities until the pile is enormous. And the pressure is huge.

I don’t know if you’ve ever listed what you actually do in a day - it’s a crazy long list!

  • Pick up dry cleaning

  • Buy groceries

  • Plan your friend’s birthday party

  • Go buy a present

  • Get to the bank before it closes

  • Work late/catch up on work

  • Go in early/get ahead

  • Email prospects from yesterday’s event

  • Send out thank you cards

  • Pick up the kids (I don’t have kids!)

  • Make it home for dinner

  • Catch a late hockey practice

  • Make time for your partner (I’m still single, lol)

And on, and on, and on…

Pretty quickly things start adding up and, before you know it, you find yourself in your car trying to figure out what the heck is happening and why you can’t get a handle on it all. (I described some of my bigger life challenges in my book).

Stop throwing logs on the fire

One day when I was freaking out I called one of my mentors for advice. He listened to me for a while - I’m sure he’d heard it all before.

And then he delivered an analogy I’ll never forget…

“Stop throwing logs on the fire.”

I knew immediately what he was talking about. (I go deeper into managing your mental state in my keynotes.)

When we are at the cottage and have a bonfire someone has feed the fire - ideally it’s one person. Nobody wants to be bored and cold sitting there with nothing to do so they all throw wood on the fire. 

At first, it’s not a problem. But as the fire grows, and with lots of hands adding wood, it can quickly get out of hand.

Wow! 

So profound… because it was so simple. As long as I keep throwing wood on the fire I’ll never get control of my feeling of overwhelm!

The same applies to you and your life.

Everyday you’re presented with options of more things to take on, and you don’t want to 

  • “Yes, I can do that for you.”

  • “Yes, I am available that evening.”

  • “Yes, I would love to volunteer for your event.”

  • “Yes, I can call you on my lunch break.”

  • “Yes, I can add that to my list.”

  • “Yes, Yes, Yes!!!”

We are people pleasers, and so we keep throwing more logs on the fire!

In order to get a handle on things, you need to learn when to say “Stop” and create some space for things to simmer down—allow ourselves to heal.

You need to say “No” and,

  • Stop taking unnecessary appointments

  • Stop saying “yes” to more volunteer activities

  • Stop answering your phone every time it rings

  • Stop responding to every single text, immediately

  • Stop answering unknown phone calls

  • Stop trying to fit more things in your schedule when you do not already have the time

Sometimes the hardest thing to do is exactly what you need to do.

Just stop, create some space, and let the “fire” simmer down. 

At the end of the day, it always comes down to you. 

You have to be the one to let people know when you are struggling.

You have to be the one to stand up for yourself.

You have to be the one to create space for yourself, ask for help, ask for some time off (or take some time off), let people know how you really are so you can look after you, and in turn, you can better serve others.

Your mind will thank you for doing it.

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Enjoyed this article? Here are 3 more articles to help you succeed:

How To Turn Depression Around: Spiral Up, Not Down
Ask The Right Questions And You Will Get The Right Answers.
It’s OK to ask for Help!

Kevin Rempel

I help people adopt the mindset about life and people with disabilities that drive results and embrace change.