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Obligations, Commitments, And Stress: How Can You Allow Yourself To Say ‘No’?

From your viewpoint, how does a typical week look like? More specifically, how does a typical workday look like? What are your to-dos for today? What part of your job was not done yesterday? Are you dabbling in numerous things at the same time? If you have too many obligations and commitments, you are one of us. It’s not true that there’s insufficient time in a day, but it’s actually we who always try to do too many things within a specified time frame. It happens to all of us. We commit to many people and many things together and burn out too soon. It happens every day — well, almost every day.

Differences Between Obligations And Commitments

An Obligation Arises Out Of A Commitment

What is the primary difference between your obligations and commitments? An obligation arises when you commit to people or some job. A commitment is what you agree to complete in the first place. An obligation is a feeling or a sense of a duty just because you committed to doing something. You accept your obligations the moment you commit to doing something. For example, if you join a software developer huddle in your city, you commit to attending the huddle on a pre-scheduled date and time, and eventually, that becomes an obligation.

Too many obligations and commitments create stress which can be a hindrance to your way of handling things and your priorities, and living your life the way you want to.

How Did You End Up Here?

Are You Trying To Take Up Too Many Tasks?

It might be the case that you are that type of a person who makes commitments when you feel extremely capable, energetic and productive. When you feel energetic, it’s easy for you to assume that you can take up more responsibilities. It might also be the case that you are an overachiever, and you always want to prove your mettle. The third possibility is that you are that type of a person who cannot say ‘NO’.

Why Can’t You Say ‘NO’?

Disentangling yourself by taking one step back is not always easy. You may fear rejection, and shame, or you may start feeling guilty. These are some of the reasons why many people cannot usually say ‘NO’. You may also start thinking about your sunk costs, the effort, money, and time, and investments. Sunk costs can make you feel that you should stick to something which you would have ended long ago. As a result, you continue to put in your time, money, and effort in something even if you are not really enjoying it anymore. It can be really difficult to back off from a commitment, but it’s something which you have to do to de-clutter your commitments.

Here’s how you can do it.

Know Your Commitments

Have You Yet Started Listing Your Priorities?

First things first – know your commitments. If possible, prepare a list in Excel or if you’re old school, use pen and paper. Skim all the to-dos in a typical day, week, or month. The list should include your commitments at work, at home as well as your special interests and hobbies. Which of the to-dos must you complete? Which are the non-negotiable commitments? Identify these priorities to get started.

Know Your Values

After identifying your commitments, the next step is to think and identify the most important value for you. For example, some of the most important things in your life could be spending time with your family, taking care of your mental and physical health, putting in more time and effort in your special interests or hobbies, learning new things, or just having a relaxed time-out. Ask yourself how much each of these commitments matter to you.

Learn To Say ‘NO’

Start Saying ‘No’ Starting Today

Once you identify how much each commitment matters to you, you would realize which of the things you no longer enjoy doing. At this point, you will easily understand which of the things you can let go, and which ones you cannot. Decide the things which you can get done by someone else, delegate, or postpone. Now, it’s time to move on. Next up, you may want more time for spending with your family. Perhaps you may want to learn new skills or update yourself about some new phenomenon or disruptive tech.

Saying ‘no’ doesn’t necessarily mean that you are turning away potential success or productivity. When you start saying ‘no’ after careful consideration, you actually open a thousand doors of possibilities for yourself. Remember to think things through carefully because this one little word can change your life.

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