December 10, 2018

Either you count, or nobody counts

It’s been a crazy busy couple of weeks, you know how it is in the run up to Christmas! I have been juggling my diary frantically with all my wonderful smart coaching clients working around the inevitable reschedules that happen at this time of year.  At the weekend I realised that I had rescheduled out all of my own important commitments in the week in order to work around various requests. I was more than happy to do it at the time but realised I had reached the weekend completely frazzled. It was a good reality check for me: I could feel a bad habit creeping back in: the need to please and the inability to say no!

Rescheduling what’s important to you (your run/yoga session/coffee with a friend) because someone’s else’s needs require fulfilling has a short term psychological payoff. We feel like a good person for going out of our way to help someone else, or putting the needs of our client/employer/child/spouse before our own. They are happy: we are happy.

As an occasional thing it’s a win-win: everyone gains in happiness and our sacrifice of personal needs gets balanced by the feel good factor of helping someone else get what they need. Score!

As a long term strategy however it’s a disaster. If we consistently put others needs before our own then it leads to burnout and resentment. In short to a Negative Balance. I see many clients who have fallen into this trap, and it’s a highly familiar one to me when I look back at how I put all the needs of “the business” before my own during my 20 years in corporate life.

It’s faulty thinking. We get into the habit of deferring our own perfectly valid needs because other peoples needs matter more. Their happiness matters more. Meeting their needs is more important. It doesn’t make sense and here is why. If needs matter then all peoples needs matter, not just your boss/husband/child buts yours too. Either everybody counts, or nobody counts.

A wise old boss once put it to me this way: if you say yes to everything, what is your yes worth? Being able to sometimes say ‘no’ and stick to it makes your ‘yes’ much more valuable.

It’s your job to stand up for what you need to be healthy and happy, even if that means that someone else doesn’t get what they need (or think they need) all the time. Your needs are just as important as anyone else’s.  Either everybody counts, or nobody counts.