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saying no

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Manage Your Mind

Inspired by this week’s episode of the Moms Making Six Figures Podcast with Brooke Paulin who believes in the practice of managing your mind and the small daily habits that lead to great success over time.

 In a world where we are inundated with more information and more access to it than ever before, we are faced with new challenges like ‘consumer fatigue’, information overwhelm and digital burnout.  The media and social media industries are designed to be addictive in nature, releasing dopamine or cortisol dependent on the nature of the content, that keeps us coming back for more and ultimately conditions our behavior.  Information, and the way in which we access it is not the enemy, instead it is our passive consumption of that content that can wreak havoc, particularly when we are bombarded with negativity, click-bait headlines, and divisive rhetoric.  Just as we fuel our bodies and health with nutrition and exercise, we must manage our mind and the information we choose to fill it with.

With nearly 69% of adults and 81% of teens in the US using social media, it is time for us to become active participants in managing our minds, our mental states, and our mental health.  Here are a few small changes you can make to be better prepared and intentional with the information and inputs you choose.

Reality Check

We would never let our children sit for hours on end, absent-mindedly in front of screens and we shouldn’t allow it for ourselves either.  While it may not seem like you’re spending that much time on devices outside of necessity, your Weekly Activity Report likely shows something different.

Start by taking an inventory of the current time you spend consuming content intentionally vs. out of habit or boredom.  Once you have begun to inventory your passive or active consumption tendencies, track for a day (or longer) every piece of information you digest with a “+” if it is beneficial to your personal life, work life, or overall well being, a ”–“ if it negatively impacted or took away from your personal life, work life, or overall well being, and an “=” for no impact other than time lost.

Seeing our habits in black and white allows us to see where our own struggles actually exist.  It takes five positive interactions to offset each negative interaction; is it any wonder we are more anxious, depressed, and lonely than ever before?

Schedule (and plan) Your Screen time

Self-monitoring and scheduling your consumption habits can change not only your perception of the information you digest, but also, your behaviors.  In 2018 the University of Pennsylvania conducted a study that observed the behaviors of 143 undergraduates.  One group was asked to limit all social media activity to only 10 minutes per platform, per day, while the second was allowed to use their social media as usual for three weeks.   The group that limited their scrolling “showed significant reductions in loneliness and depression during those three weeks over the group that continued using social media.”

As Brooke pointed out in this week’s podcast, “I don’t think that some of the top CEO’s, and, you know, multi-million dollar female business owners … I don’t think that they’re scrolling through social media that’s not feeding their mind. There’s no room for that.”  What would you be able to accomplish in a week of limiting your scrolling habits?

Empty the Junk Folder

Once you’ve taken inventory of the information and input you’re allowing in, and you’ve refined your mindless scrolling by replacing it with intentionally scheduled time for content consumption, get rid of anything that isn’t serving you, your mental health, your professional life, or your personal life.

Once you’ve emptied the Junk Folder, take note from some of the most successful people and follow suit by replacing what wasn’t serving you with content that does.  According to research, what makes highly successful people less stressed, happier, and more productive is scheduling their personal priorities before tending to other people’s priorities.  That goes for what you’re consuming too.  Instead of starting your day by checking email, dedicate an hour of your morning hour to be your Power Hour where you replenish your motivation with podcasts, books and curated content that supports your goals, challenges you, and leaves you feeling ready to tackle the day.  Ask your mentors what they listen to, what they read, and who they follow on social media to begin refining your palate.

In order to be successful in managing our mind, our mental state and our mental health, we must be intentional about what we consume and prepare our daily activity and schedules with discernment.  Just as nutrition is fundamental to achieving our health and wellness goals, so is the information we consume.  We avoid pitfalls of hunger by meal planning and preparation, and we can avoid the pitfalls of media and social media by planning and being thoughtful consumers.

“Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.” –Alexander Graham Bell

say yes to you saying no Self-Care

When and How to Say “No”

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Self-care is crucial, especially for moms. Without it, you’re setting yourself up for a breakdown.

What do self-care and saying no have to do with each other? Everything! Picture this:

Your boss assigns you tasks with tight deadlines, then you coworker asks you to cover for her the next day, your friend asks you to drive her to the airport at midnight, and your neighbor asks you to babysit her kids. You say yes to all these things. Plus you have your usual daily obligations. You’re “Super Mom,” so chances are you’ll manage to get everything done, BUT the tasks your boss assigned you are probably going to be sub-par because you didn’t get any sleep since you had your kids plus the neighbor’s kids and you had to drive your friend to the airport at midnight, probably got home after 1am, and had to wake up at 5am, then you had cover for your coworker when you got to work… Sound familiar?

Extended periods of this overextension of your amazing self will not only leave you mentally and physically drained, but your work and relationships will suffer as a result. Isn’t it better to do less and enjoy better quality work and relationships? Thankfully you can avoid all the stress with just one word: “no.” Here’s how to do it right.

How to Say “No” Tactfully and Not Feel Bad About it

We’ve all been there. You want to say no but you also don’t want to be mean, so you say yes to everything (even kids’ play dates you don’t have the energy for!). Here are a few suggestions for how to say no without sounding rude.

1. Remember Who You’re Talking To

The way you say no to your boss will definitely be different from how you say no to your peers. Consider your situation to help determine the approach you’ll take. You might be blunt with close family and friends—“I don’t want to go”—and know they can take it, but you’ll probably have to be more considerate with everyone else: “I would love to take this on, but my plate is really full right now. I hope you understand.”

2. Be Firm but Courteous

When declining a request for your help, don’t raise the tone of your voice at the end to imply a question—“no?” Otherwise, you’re leaving room for someone to convince you to say yes. And if you’re just plain bad at saying no, you’re going to end up giving in. Even if you feel guilty, don’t show it. “Fake it ‘til you make it” if need be—just stay strong!

Say you’re asked to bake a cake for your kid’s school fundraiser, but you know you won’t have time. Simply say, “I appreciate you thinking of me. I’m sorry I won’t be able to help this time, but I’ll let you know which of the upcoming events I’ll be able to volunteer for.” This gives you the upper hand without appearing mean, and it leaves the ball in your court. Be careful, though—don’t commit to a future activity if you know you won’t be able to do it.

3. The Less You Say, The Better

Don’t feel obligated to accompany your “no” with an excuse. If you feel you must give an explanation, keep it short, don’t give details, and stick as close to the truth as possible. Lies will only catch up with you later. If you’re invited to a party you have no interest in attending, a simple, “Thanks for the invite but I won’t be able to make it,” will do. No need to hurt the host/ess’s feelings.

4. Ask Them a Question

Asking a question to clarify how busy you are or help free you up for this new task might serve you well in certain situations—especially when it comes to work relationships. For example, if your supervisor asks you to take on more tasks than you can handle, you could say, “I’m happy to do A, B, and C, but I would need two weeks instead of one in order to do the job well. How would you like me to prioritize these tasks?”

And just like that, you’ll likely get the two weeks you need—or they just might reassign one of the tasks to someone else.

Saying “No”: It’s Okay to Be Selfish

As moms, we tend to put everyone else’s needs before our own. But if you continue this pattern, your productivity in all areas of life will suffer. Since most of us are already operating on minimal hours of sleep (unless your kids are champion sleepers!), it’s important not to stretch oneself too thin.

It might be hard at first—old habits die hard after all—but you’ll get used to saying no. It might actually feel liberating. Eventually those around you will get the point. Say yes to YOU!

Say no to everything, so you can say yes to the one thing.” – Richie Norton