Last year I found myself completely overwhelmed by all of my commitments. I was working a full time job in health care, volunteering to run employee programs, the President of my professional association and in a social club. My husband and I were also trying to keep up with one another and our families, while going through exhausting infertility treatments. I felt like I was hardly keeping my head above water.
I love to volunteer. In doing so, however, I sometimes forget that I need to carve out time to recharge. Finding "balance" is extremely difficult and it looks different for everyone. Some might view my activities as manageable, where others would find them overwhelming. I think that when one starts to feel resentful of their activities, it is time to re-evaluate.
I decided that I would begin my year of "NO". I would say no to any commitment that would take up too much time or any commitment that I no longer enjoyed. I told my husband about my plan and asked him to help me stay accountable. Our main focus was to start our family and it was important to eliminate stress.
It was hard at first to say no. I live in a small community and belong to a small workplace. People come to expect the "usual" volunteers to keep giving. When I started saying "no", I was met with a lot of resistance. People try to tell you how wonderful you are at a certain volunteer position. While this may be true, it is important to remember that you are not the only one who would be good at that position. Sometimes, there is someone waiting in the wings who would excel at the position. It is also good to remember that it is not your sole responsibility to be the volunteer in your community or organization. Volunteerism is something that should be shared among everyone. If everyone took the time to contribute, responsibilities could be shared among many, instead of falling on the shoulders of the few. I assured myself that I had given my best to my commitments and that it was now someone else's turn. I currently have no commitments, besides my husband, family and full time job. I don't plan to sit back forever, but I took a break when I needed it most.
I do believe that the release of the stress of my commitments helped immensely in our efforts to start a family. I also believe that it has been extremely healthy for my pregnancy to cut back on stress. I look forward to the birth of our first child and I am extremely relieved that I will be able to simply concentrate on my new family life.