It’s been 15 days since the New Year started and I am shaking my head going “Maybe I got this priority thing all wrong?

I was feeling pumped about my fitness goal of getting back into Bikram Yoga practise. I have to admit though that if it wasn’t for my 10-class pass expiring, I wouldn’t have gotten my butt back into the studio. I needed a push to get back into a routine.

Last week I got a literal kick in the butt, when I received some unwelcomed news about my health. Whao! I’ve noticed an interesting pattern around my personal vs. business goals. I give my personal goals less weight (no pun intended) and importance unless I’m forced into a corner. Then the epiphany came as I started to dig deeper – what if I designed my schedule around my personal goals instead of business goals? I would definitely be paying more attention to my health, my relationships and having fun instead of working so hard… then the truth bomb…it means I’d be happier.

As a business owner and entrepreneur, there is so much blending of personal and work lives. When I am at a family gathering, I talk about what I do for a living. When I am meeting new clients or working with existing ones, the conversation usually goes into our personal lives to build rapport and understanding. My point is that it’s hard to separate NON-WORK from WORK time and yet, I am now at the stage of re-evaluating my priorities and make ME time as important. What if I hit the RESET button and look at my schedule in a different way?

If I designed my schedule around my personal goals, at a minimum, I would be:

  • Starting the first hour of my day meditating, reading or writing in my journal
  • Scheduling Bikram Yoga at least twice a week
  • Taking regular meal breaks and eating healthier options
  • Fulfilling at least 1 personal daily goal to increase my happiness
  • Giving at least 1 unexpected daily compliment
  • Having daily uninterrupted family time
  • Carving out "white space" at least 2 hours/week for spontaneous non-work related activities

If I stretched myself further (to satisfy the over-achiever in me), I’d have at least 30% of my current schedule for personal goals so I could:

  • Take two full days off a week from my business
  • Have 3-day weekends during the summer months
  • Enjoy weeknights with a great book or socializing

My aim to achieve the 30% around personal goals over the next 12-18 months, however everything else (in the first list) seems quite realistic. And I am already doing a few of these…pat on the back! To be candid, what really gets in my way is my people-pleasing nature of saying YES all the time. If I have no filter or criteria for saying YES, I get easily overloaded.

When I say NO, I feel like I am letting the requestor down, or I may lose out on something I don’t know, and it goes against my value of being helpful. However, the consequence of not saying NO means I am constantly overwhelmed bypassing my personal commitments and I start feeling guilty or even resentful. Not a recipe for a happy life!

I’ve come to realize that saying YES means knowing what is important, identifying consequences and determining what is reasonable for ME.

As part of my RESET, before saying YES to someone or a new task, I will now ask myself (in my head... of course)

  • Do I have the skills or expertise AND interest required?
  • How does this fit into my priorities?
  • What will be the benefits?
  • What will it cost me (i.e., time, money, effort)?

If I am leaning towards a YES, my final question will be:

  • What am I able to do?

It’s the toughest question for me. Do I need to do all of what is being asked? Could I negotiate and if so, what is appropriate given my capacity. If I am unable to say YES, I take time to brainstorm other options to help the requestor.  Or I may need to postpone a response until I look at my other commitments. I might consciously need to bite my tongue so YES doesn’t squeeze out!

Going back to my current reality, my health is priority and it means I will likely say NO to new work and personal commitments or re-negotiate because I need to give priority elsewhere. It means I may PAUSE before saying YES until I see what is reasonable. It also means reframing from a negative impact of letting others down to creating a win-win for the requestor and myself.

As a recovering P.P.O.P. (people pleaser, overachiever and perfectionist – triple threat!) I hope this is article is helpful for those of us who have made New Year commitments and wondering how to get back to track. Even though I teach this stuff, I find myself victim when there is too much to do. By taking a step back, re-evaluating what really matters and making the necessary changes and sticking to it, you feel happier.

If you can relate to this topic, what can YOU do to get back on track?