What I say no to….

Recently a friend posted an article on Facebook which sparked a barrage of comments and discussion. The headline was “Every woman has an ‘I Don’t’ list. And it’s about time we shared them.”

You might have seen the article – it pretty much went viral – but in case you didn’t, the gist was that the pressures on modern women to do it all, have it all and make it look effortless, has left us feeling like not enough and made us stressed out, tired and sick.

As the article pointed out:

“You’re a woman, living in an age of extreme expectation. Superwoman Syndrome has shaken off its shoulder pads, pulled on its activewear leggings and buddied up with Hustle Culture to provide you a continual feed of All The Ways You Could Be Better.”

And in response, the author decided it was time for women to share what they’re not doing – a “Things I don’t do” list – to blow the façade that we are all perfect human beings doing everything amazingly well, all the time.

And because I’m all about not pretending to be perfect and having it all together, I shared my own “I don’t” list too. They included all the things that I never – or rarely – do, in order to make time for the things that are important to me.

Because here’s the crux of it – there really isn’t enough time to do it all, all the time. So you first need to prioritise what it is that is truly important to you – the things that you absolutely want to make time for or know you must – and start being ruthless about saying no to anything that falls outside that sphere.

For me, the things that are important to me, which I’m not willing to sacrifice are:

  • Time with my family
  • Playing sport/ exercising
  • Eating well
  • Serving my clients and growing my business to impact more women

That might seem like a fairly short list, but that’s the point – it has to be. If your list is too long you’ll spread yourself too thinly and feel like you’re not doing anything well.

My ‘I don’t’ list, on the other hand, is very long these days. All of these are things I have done in the past, before I prioritised. I outsource or delegate what I can (either paid or to my husband/ kids) and the rest just doesn’t get done at all:

  • I don’t clean (except the kitchen. I do tidy but I refuse tidy other people’s things anymore)
  • I don’t let my kids do more than 2 activities each, because a) my shit is important too and b) kids get burnt out too
  • I don’t make school lunches (they order from the canteen almost every day or make their own – usually the former)
  • I rarely cook (dinners are thrown-together salad and whatever, or pre-made meals delivered to my door twice a week!)
  • I don’t do washing. Or folding. And I definitely don’t do ironing
  • I don’t go grocery shopping (online all the way)
  • I don’t wash dishes
  • I don’t make costumes for my kids’ Book Week parades.
  • I don’t open mail
  • I don’t send Christmas cards
  • I don’t entertain
  • I don’t go to P&C meetings

No judgement on you if you do choose to do any of these things. That’s just my list – maybe you love making book week costumes or ironing or grocery shopping. And obviously there has to be a balance – sometimes we have to do shit we don’t want to do, just because it has to be done and there’s no one else to do it!

That’s fine, as long as you’re choosing some things to say no to. And not sacrificing your goals or your health or your priorities because you want to maintain the façade of doing it all (I’m fine, you say, I can handle it!).

But here’s where I start to get annoyed: If you’re saying you don’t have time to exercise or eat well – two of the fundamentals of a long, happy life – then what is it you’re saying yes to that’s robbing you of that time?!

I’ve seen too many women burnt out, sick and resentful because they didn’t have an “I don’t” list. They just did everything (except look after their health) until they couldn’t anymore.

So what’s on your “I don’t list”? And if you can’t think of anything, then it’s time to start saying no. Your future self will thank you.

If you need help prioritising – figuring out what to do (and what NOT to do) to reach your goals without the overwhelm, then reach out. You can book a call here and we can chat about what’s working (and what’s not) and get you on the fast track to reaching your goals.

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