You know that feeling when there are ideas swirling around your head that keep bumping up against each other, yet haven’t yet been distilled into what is essential? I’m there with thoughts about setting boundaries at work, self- and community- care and how I define both happiness and success.
I need Dumbledore’s pensieve so that I can poke at all these thoughts and eventually have clarity emerge.
In the meantime, the conflict between when to say yes and when to hold the line of no when it comes to work, family, friends, and my own priorities keeps bubbling to the surface . This is likely because our summer is pretty booked up – to the point I’ve added a few “DO NOT SCHEDULE ANYTHING” days to the family calendar. We need to protect a few scattered and precious “home days” to keep the home front in balance.
Two of my favorite happiness-adjacent books also highlight this yes/no conflict: Shonda’ Rhimes’ The Year of Yes shares what happened when she said yes to anything that scared her for one year. Katrina Onstad’s The Weekend Effect makes a strong case for saying no to being overcommitted so that families can reclaim weekends and time to unplug.
So when to say yes and when to say no?
A guidepost I use is the reminder that saying yes (or no) to something is by default saying no (or yes) to something else.
Yes to reading means no to some sleep. Yes to checking in at work after my son goes to bed means no to chatting with my wife. And so on.
The self- and community-care confusion gets woven in when self-care slides into “treat yourself” appointments to be scheduled rather than ongoing self-nourishment. There’s something there, too, about self-care morphing into an additional task over an authentic community connection. A manicure isn’t self-care when I’m exhausted and dehydrated.
The Yes/No check-in with myself has been incredibly useful over the past few months: I’ve caught myself saying yes to things that then forced a “no” to the things I honestly, truly need and care about. Yes to an additional volunteer activity means a no to additional time writing. Yes to designing my own workshops means no to Schitt’s Creek. It’s a prioritization short cut that’s helping me set new boundaries at home and at the office.
I’d love to know how you set boundaries and decide on your priorities…
or if you have a pensieve you can to share.