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Lisa Hess offers three questions to help you discern whether to take on another new project.

Almost three years ago, I declared the upcoming year my Year of No. Like many people, I have a tendency to take on too much (can you identify, I love to be busy friends?) I was determined to develop the habit of stepping back and taking a moment to think before I committed.

The other day, a new kind of writing project came my way. As you can imagine, I have a weak spot for writing-related projects, but I also have a substantial pile of writing projects in progress. 

Do I need another one?

If you, too, have found yourself in this situation, here are three questions that might help with the decision-making process.

Do I have to do it? 

There are plenty of things I'd say no to if I could, but they're necessary to keep our household running or required by my employer. These are things that make the list, whether it's the year of no or not. Several examples spring readily to mind, but I shall refrain from naming them on the grounds that they'll make me look bad.

Does it make me happy or serve a purpose that matters to me? 

It's rare that I actually have an empty space on my calendar that's begging to be filled but if an opportunity arises that excites me, does good, or advances a cause or goal that matters to me, I'll probably say yes and make room one way or another. A perfect example of this arose around the same time I established my Year of No, kicking it off spectacularly by auditioning for a scripted show for the first time in almost two decades. The gains were more than worth the losses, especially since the former included friendships that continued far beyond the last curtain call.

Am I doing this because I want to or because someone else wants me to? 

This is the hardest one. There were times that the "no" that protected my time made someone else unhappy, or even angry. The line between self-care and selfish can feel precariously thin but, in the end, since the time expenditure is mine, so, too, is the final decision -- and any fallout that arises.


Learning to step back and create a maybe moment between the request and the assent has helped to ensure that I'm spending my time on the things I want to spend time on, even if I do still overcommit more often than I ought to. And, when I say no, more often than not what I feel is relief, not regret.

Step back and create a maybe moment between the request and the assent. #catholicmom

As for that writing project, I've decided not to decide -- yet. I need to do more research on just how complicated and time consuming it will be, and whether or not it's a good fit for me and vice versa. Only then will I know if it's something I want to pursue. So, I'm taking my time, and pondering my three questions, and making sure my answer is the right one for me.

Copyright 2020 Lisa Hess
Image: Pixabay (2010)