Saying No to Burnout

Sometimes we’re our own worst enemy.

It seems like a noble pursuit to be a successful businesswoman, wife, mother, and friend – to feel that we’re excelling in every area of our life. Our intentions are good, but we can quickly start to expect too much of ourselves and then end up completely burned out. In her book titled The Best Yes, Lysa Terkeurst says it this way: “Saying yes all the time won’t make me Wonder Woman. It will make me a worn-out woman.” 

Running on Empty

So why are we so compelled to get it all done? Whether it’s perfectionist syndrome or the pull to please others, simply put: it can be really hard to say no. We don’t always stop to realize that every time we say yes to something, we say no to something else. This means we actually have to say no to almost everything in order to make room for what’s most important to us. It also means we must first establish a strong “why” in our personal life that undergirds our decision making (for more, read Simon Sinek’s Start with Why).

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

To be expected, making a habit of investing our time only in what matters most takes practice. If, over many years, we’ve built up the habit of taking on too much, it’s going to take some intentional effort to say no more often and return to our big-picture goals. The beautiful thing is that making really small, incremental changes gives us the momentum to keep making changes, and eventually we’ll look back and realize how much we’ve really grown. One of my favorite quotes is from Jordan Peterson, and it’s this: “Incremental improvement is unstoppable.” I wholeheartedly agree. If we keep tapping at that glass ceiling, we will eventually break through.

Choosing Joy

As a productivity coach, I would be remiss not to mention how important it is that your goals are sustainable. Resist the urge to be a “yes” woman – really think about what you’re saying yes to. You have the power to choose, so don’t sell yourself short by believing you have to do certain things. Look at your ambitions from a holistic perspective – ambitions in your roles as spouse, daughter, sister, and friend – and pursue what actually gets you excited in the morning. Continue to learn more about yourself by asking questions and digging deeper, and then lean into others as you go.

If you’re going after what you love, you’ll experience joy. That’s when you know you’re doing what you were created to do.

If you enjoyed this article, listen to my guest appearance on Jen Du Plessis’ podcast.