As children we’re taught to just say no, and we do it with abandon.

Want to come inside and get ready for dinner? No! Want to shut off the TV and go shopping? No! Want to wear that holiday sweater grandma bought you last year? You know where this is going.

Then we get older and learn about etiquette. We get that sometimes we need to do things that we don’t want to and say no. We understand that other people’s feelings matter and we need to consider them before making decisions.

What we don’t always learn is how to find a balance between doing for others and doing for ourselves.

We say we value our time, but it’s difficult when we field a million requests through email, IM, and text.

We know we need to hold our ground if we want to be productive—or stay sane—but we don’t want to disappoint anyone, or even worse, leave them hanging when they need us.

It’s important to offer compassion and make sacrifices, but being everything to everyone will eventually backfire. At some point you won’t have much left to give.

You’ll go through the motions, but you’ll feel exhausted. You’ll give your attention, but it will be distracted. You’ll say you don’t mind, but you’ll feel resentful.

Decide today what time and activities you need to do for you, and then make sure to do them. If someone makes a request that conflicts, unless it absolutely requires immediate attention, tell you them you’d love to help but you have something important planned.

Whatever it is, it is important. You can only be strong and useful for the people around you if you honor your needs as much as theirs. If you really want to make them happy, do what you need to do for you—because people who love you want to please you just as much as you want to please them.

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