Too many people I speak to tell me they spend their long days responding to emails, putting out fires, and running around in a constant state or urgency.
Sound familiar? You are not alone.
It’s a problem many of us struggle with – a vicious cycle we cannot seem to solve or free ourselves from. We react to what’s in front of us, whether it truly matters or not.
More than ever, we’re prisoners of the urgent.
We know that setting goals and prioritising help tremendously, but the problem is that prioritizing requires reflection, and reflection takes time. Most of are so busy racing just to keep up, we don’t believe we have the time to stop and think about much of anything. It is a myth we live by now.
And so too often we default to saying “yes” to everything and everyone. It’s just easier that way. We can avoid conflict, and it takes less time than pausing to decide whether or not the request is truly important. Some believe there’s also an adrenaline rush in saying “yes”. As Tony Swartz writes,
“Many of us have become addicted, unwittingly, to the speed of our lives — the adrenalin high of constant busyness. We mistake activity for productivity, more for better, and we ask ourselves ‘What’s next?’ far more often than we do ‘Why this?’”
But as Gandhi put it, “A ‘no’ uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a ‘yes’ merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble.”
So what does saying “no” actually look like? Well, I think it means:
- Taking time out to reflect and prioritise
- Deciding what to do less of, or to stop doing altogether
- Regularly stepping back from the madding crowd
- Sometimes disappointing people
- Fighting the urge to respond to the latest urgent demand or seductive source of instant gratification