Learning to juggle

Photo courtesy of Cesar Astudillo

Photo courtesy of Cesar Astudillo

My work and my life seem to be a juggling act lately – only the more balls I get in the air, the more likely I am to drop them.

I bet you are juggling too.

The more I say yes to, the more balls get tossed in the mix, until it’s impossible to keep up with them all. It is all bound to tumble down in a huge mess.

So it’s important to start learning the word “no.”

If you are like me, the word “no” is not part of your vocabulary, and just thinking of using it brings on images of hurt, letdown, disappointment – but honestly, fear is probably the main reason I choose not to use that word.

Fear that I’m missing an opportunity. Fear that I’m going to upset someone. Fear that I’m not living up to my potential.

But always saying yes just means that mistakes happen, things are forgotten or neglected and suddenly even things that usually bring great joy are not fun.

Instead of being positive, it all becomes poisonous and negative.

The first step is to take stock of all those things I’ve said yes to. I include it all – work, volunteer work, church duties, family obligations – whatever it is. Seeing the entire range of things I’ve agreed to do or be part of helps me prioritize.

Once my list is completed and ranked, I can start to make decisions. Some obligations may be ending soon, or may be a once or twice a year kind of thing. Using my calendar and tools like trello.com, I can see the bigger picture and possibly decide to lessen my involvement or even phase things out completely.

Once there are fewer balls to juggle, I can direct my energy and my focus to the things that are most important to me. I can get busy enjoying what I am doing again, developing and mastering skills, and making a difference.

How many balls are you juggling?