By Nic DeCaire, Special to The News Journal
It’s probably one of the hardest things I have to do. Not because it’s physically demanding or something that I never learned.
Usually it’s just because I don’t know how.
I’m talking about saying “no.”
I’ve struggled with this most of my adult life. Honestly, I like the feeling I get by helping others. There’s a pleasure in seeing a smile on a person’s face, hearing a “thank you” or other kind words. But there also are feel-good chemicals like dopamine and oxytocin released in my body after I help someone. It is an amazing feeling, almost addictive feeling – who wouldn’t want to feel that way all the time?
Throughout my business career, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting amazing people and working with incredible organizations. Getting involved in the community is one of the most rewarding accomplishments for me as a small business owner.
But it has also taken a toll on my body. I’m sure many of you can relate.
Years ago, I said yes to everything – mostly because I was trying to get my name in the community but also because I didn’t want to upset anyone. I was younger. I didn’t feel stress.
Now with more responsibilities at work, home and in the community, I can feel the tension in my shoulders. I really need to get a massage but I can’t seem to find the time. I know I can’t be at work, at a meeting and at my daughter’s dance recital, but somehow – like many others – I still try.
One of the most important things we have is time. It is sacred, and if you give too much away it can be damaging to your health.
That’s right – always saying, “Yes,” can put you in an early grave.
Stress can lead to headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems and anxiety, to name a few. And I am not immune.
In the last year I started another company that’s kept me even busier than I previously was. I have noticed that my fitness and health has moved to the sidelines. If it is a choice between doing pushups or a proposal, usually the proposal wins. I have to feed my family right?
I preach to people that you don’t need hours to exercise in order to be healthy. So why don’t I listen to my own advice?
Most of the time it’s because I am stressed about the next project and I think that I don’t have enough time to put on my workout clothes and then get changed again for my next appointment. Pretty lame excuse, huh?
That lack of exercise can lead to weight gain, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and depression.
And as if having two children who don’t like to sleep through the night isn’t enough, having too much on my plate has led me to even more sleepless nights. I find myself staying up late writing, planning for the week or working on business strategies. Four or five hours of uninterrupted sleep is something to dream about these days.
I know that I should be getting six to eight hours every night, but there is so much to do and not enough time in the day. Lack of sleep can lead to high blood pressure, stroke, and heart attack.
So I’m trying to say no more often. When I’m asked to help and know it’s going to be too much for me, I’m trying to use one of these responses instead:
• I’m not able to at this time, but please think of me in the future.
• I can’t fit anything else in my schedule, but when it frees up we can we talk about it again.
• Honestly, I can’t take on anything more if I’m going to continue giving you my best. Thanks for understanding.
I’m working on it. I have to remind myself that saying no isn’t because I want to be mean or not help people. Rather, it’s because I understand that if I’m not healthy, if I don’t take time for myself, then I can’t play at the best of my ability.
As you evaluate your own schedule, figure out just how much time you can dedicate to helping others. Also make sure you are working with organizations and people you feel passionate about.
The next time you are faced with having to say “no,” just remember that if you continue to keep saying “yes,” you might not be around to help anyone in the future.
Nic DeCaire, owner of Fusion Fitness Center in Newark, has been training clients for more than a decade.Continue Reading