Everybody wants to be well regarded. You want to be the person who people turn to in a professional context. You want to be someone people rely on, someone they turn to for advice. However, this can often lead to you spreading yourself too thinly.
It's an abstract notion in Hong Kong, where the glorification of "busy" is commonplace, but not every second of your day should be timetabled.
We all know why we do it, it's nice to feel important and in demand.
There's also the far more insidious notion that free time can be scary. Time alone leads you to ask big questions about your life, the company you keep, and where you see your future heading.
The reality is that you need time to accomplish your goals, and this scarce resource is only going to become available if you create it. There are countless articles and books restating the point that, alongside your health, time is your most precious commodity, and you can't retrieve either once they are gone.
You are responsible for creating your own boundaries, and if you find yourself in uncomfortable situations, or devoting more of yourself or your time than you think is reasonable, then you need to address this point. Many people, when presented with the opportunity, will take far more from you than you are willing to give.
Successful people know this. In the words of Warren Buffett: "The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say no to almost everything."
You do not need to feel guilty about this and you are not responsible for the fallout or other people's reactions. This can seem particularly challenging if you are working on something as part of a team.
If you feel you have given enough, who will be there to pick up the slack?
You need to say no in order to make time to outline and complete your own goals and projects. Saying no allows you to be more productive, as well as improve your mental health and social interactions. It does this by creating time, which you are in charge of reallocating.
Even if you don't want to put this time into personal projects, you can devote it to your interpersonal relationships, or self-care and development. Those extra 10-or-so hours a week spent exercising, reading, taking walks, mediating, catching up on sleep or engaging in any number of activities may well be worth the sacrifices that come with not being everybody's doormat any more.
Sometimes we need reminding that our time and needs are just as worthy and significant.
© 晉博教育中心 Brighten Youth Education Centre