By Melissa Fickling, See the Triumph Guest Blogger
‘Tis the season for selflessness? Not if you are already struggling to take care of your own needs. This time of year it can be especially tempting to stretch ourselves too thin, giving too much of our time, energy, and resources (i.e., money) to others in the name of holiday cheer.
Get a head start on your New Year’s Resolutions, and put yourself at the top of your gift list. Yes, this is old advice, but it persists because it has merit. If you can’t commit to putting “ME” at the top of your list, think about bumping yourself up a spot or two and seeing what happens.
From invitations, to requests for help and donations, to enduring the busy season at work or at home, when faced with a decision, ask yourself the following:
· Will this activity give me energy or deplete it?
· Does this person or organization absolutely need me for this project?
· What is the worst that will happen if I say no?
· Am I able to say yes with 100% enthusiasm? If not, why am I considering committing?
And since saying no can be hard, especially for those of us just starting to get the hang of it, here are a few phrases you can borrow:
· Thank you for the invitation, but I have other plans at that time.
· That is not something I can commit to right now.
· I have promised myself (or my family) not to take on any additional projects.
· I have to pass, but please keep me in mind in the future.
· I am unable to at this time.
· That isn’t something I am interested in, but I’m sure you will find the right person.
· I’m working on taking extra good care of myself, and this just doesn’t fit into my schedule.
· No, but thank you for thinking of me.
· No, but I wish you the best in reaching your goal.
· That’s not for me.
Finally, remember that you do not need to apologize for saying no. You do not need to justify your saying no. The world will continue turning, your true friends will support your boundaries, and you loved ones will appreciate the fact that you are taking better care of yourself so that you can spend your energy where it matters most.
Melissa J. Fickling, MA, LPC, NCC is a Doctoral Candidate in the Department of Counseling & Educational Development at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She is the instructor for CED 574A: Women’s Issues in Counseling for the 2014-2015 academic year. Melissa has worked as a counselor in college, community, and private practice settings where she specializes in issues related to work, career, and transition. Melissa completed her doctoral cognate in Women’s and Gender Studies at UNCG. She is on track to graduate with her Ph.D. in May of 2015. Her dissertation is examining career counselors’ perceptions of social justice advocacy behaviors.