Photo credit: Sarah Sweeney
You know the feeling of showing up early, being totally prepared and ready to give 100%?
Yeah, me either. Especially lately. Over the past few months, I think I have been better than ever at solidifying my reputation for being late, dropping the ball, or apologizing my way out of something I forgot. Every email I reply to starts with "I'm sorry for the delay," and no one expects me to arrive any time but late. It's tough. And I've been struggling with a lot of guilt in that area.
I feel bad for making other people wait. I hate being a flake and unreliable. I don't like doing a poor job.
The thing is that I'm busy. But I know everyone else is busy too. So my busy-ness isn't a good excuse for my lateness. But there are only so many things that can take first priority in my life. I can get anywhere on time if that is the priority that day, but the 30 other priorities that came earlier in the day make it impossible for me to consistently be on time. I mean, I can get Easton to basketball practice on time once, but every week? Probably not!
Part of me is realizing that I am over-scheduled, and this might be a season of life where I can't help it—and one where I need to learn to say no. I hate disappointing people, so saying no is tough for me. But it always comes back to bite me when I REALLY disappoint someone in the long term by dropping the ball later when it really matters. Which happens.
I'm sure this isn't a problem that only I have, because everyone I know is really busy. There are so many good ways to spend our time, and the challenge is to discern where spending our time and energy will make the biggest difference. I know I fall prey to comparing where I put my priorities to where someone else has theirs. If I don't prioritize getting to a meeting on time as much as someone else, I end up comparing my lateness to their early arrival and feeling crummy. I know that if I compare my failings to someone else's strengths, it's always a losing game, but I haven't ever considered the danger in comparing priorities. Sometimes it's really priorities that we compare and not abilities. I could do really well at a lot of things, but where I put my energy shows what is most important to me. And it's the same for everyone else.
So I think I need to keep looking for places to say no upfront and then practice doing it. Take the discomfort for the few seconds it takes to say, "I'm sorry, but I can't right now." And I also need to stop myself from comparing. I have got to remember that each of us has our own priorities. My priorities are where my strengths will show, and other people's priorities are where theirs will come out. If I want to do better at something, it will only come by bumping it up to one of the coveted first few priority slots. And if it can't fit in there, I need to let the guilt go. There's nothing more I can do.
I'd love to hear how you find ways to say no. How do you either fix or get over the discouragement that comes with being late or being the weak link?