Every couple handles commitment differently. First, there is the couple prone to overcommitting. They don’t know how to say no. Both are constantly in a “we are the only two people in the world who can do this, we don’t have a choice” mindset. Next, there is the couple prone to protecting their own time. They cheer on the willingness of others, never daring to step into the game themselves—they’re good at saying no. Lastly, there is the couple that has one of each of these personalities. And this category is where my wife and I can be found.
If there is ever a signup sheet to volunteer, you’ll find Susan’s name at the top of the list. I’m amazed at her compassionate heart and servant attitude. However, I’m also amazed at how much time she thinks she has. My wife is the queen of overcommitting. As for me, I find myself constantly corralling her back into reality—reminding her that everything she commits to takes time from something else. So here is some advice for all the wonderfully compassionate people out there who find themselves exhausted from overcommitting, not sure when or how to say no. Sometimes, you have to—because too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. Here are 4 questions to ask yourself to help you decide when to say no to good things.
1. Am I protecting time with my spouse?
Be intentional in setting up a weekly or monthly date night with your spouse. If a volunteer opportunity comes up that interferes with your date night, just say no. Plan around this special night so you are able to love your spouse well before loving others well.
2. Am I protecting time with my kids or grandkids?
If you are missing your child’s basketball games or your grandchild’s birthday parties to pursue other good things, then you are not protecting your time with your family. Spend time with your family before you commit to spending time with your clients or colleagues. Also, before you commit endless hours serving in your community, first make sure you spend quantity time with your family. And when you do serve in your community, do it with your loved ones.
Spend time with your family before you commit to spending time with your clients or colleagues.
3. Is this an area where I can use my gifts?
Avoid spreading yourself too thin. Give your best to just a few important things rather than a mediocre effort to too many things. Be strongly committed to the opportunities that allow you to use your gifts well.
4. Do I have margin in my schedule?
Just because you have an open slot in your schedule doesn’t mean you have to fill it, even with good opportunities. Be sure to leave some open time for rest, reflection, and unexpected occurrences that surely will arise.
What advice would you give to somebody who struggles to decide when and how to say no? Share in a comment below.