If you were to look up the term "people pleaser" in the dictionary a few years ago, you would most likely find a picture of me next to it. I admit it, I was that girl who bent over backwards, put aside her personal plans and gave herself headaches only to help people.
A few years ago, when I was pregnant with my first daughter, an old acquaintance of mine reached out to me for assistance regarding a job. I immediately started looking through my network to see who I could refer them to and began writing a letter of recommendation. The truth is, a task that would have taken me 30 minutes ended up dragging on for days and days, so much so that the person contacted me again a few days later with this exact phrase " I didn't realise I was asking for a lot" presumably alluding to the fact that I hadn’t yet gotten back them. To be fair, this person did not know I was pregnant (i_e: exhausted, foggy and with constant acid reflux) and was probably in a precarious situation.
Most importantly, this person was probably used to seeing me jump through hoops for everyone else, too often at my expense.
This event was the first of many that lead me to the simple conclusion that I needed to do better for myself.
Obviously, every situation is unique and only you know who is or isn't worthy of your time.
In my case, if one or all of the following statements applies then I know that I should respectfully decline.
It won't bring me joy.
Whether it's proofreading a friend's email or sending out recommendations for the best poutine in town (Frites Alors, thank me later) , if something is taking me away from my family and loved ones even for a minute, that something should bring me joy.
It's above and beyond my role.
Deciding not to provide help in a professional setting is tricky, but we all have that one colleague, the one you once said "yes" to and who can't seem to find someone else to ask a favor to. Listen... being helpful will show that you are a team player and a resourceful employee. That being said, if doing the favor is taking you away from your mandate and potentially jeopardizing your efficiency or performance, you need to establish your priorities. Likewise, if this favor seems to be within someone else's job description, it's important to bring it up.
They wouldn't do the same for me.
I am not one for "an eye for an eye" but I do believe in "you get what you give".
When someone shows you their true colors, believe them. When a person continuously takes and never gives back, read between the lines.
Above all, I make it a point to provide a simple and polite "no" rather than coming up with long unnecessary excuses. You do not need to overly justify how you spend your time or where you focus your energy. The goal isn't to stop being kind and available to others, it’s to be kinder and more available to yourself by knowing your limits and when to say no.