The Art of Saying No

Living a healthy lifestyle and running a household alongside a full time job isn't easy. Throw into the mix extra responsibilities at work, a dog, marathon training, a strong desire to see what else the world has to offer, an ambition to inspire other people to make the most of their lives too even if only at the weekend and finding time to enjoy something that resembles a social life and you'll realise I'm spinning a lot of plates. I don't always get it right but recently I've shifted my priorities and it's made a huge difference in my available time. Here's my secret in 3 easy steps:

1. Make a plan
To live a happy healthy stress free life you've got to have a bit of a plan. There's no need to go crazy with the Paperchase stationary scheduling every waking moment in a different colour but to make your workouts happen you've got to plan them. For example, I believe less is more when it comes to training. Instead of picking 5 days a week when you're going to train and missing most of them schedule 2/3 workouts a week of say 45 minutes and that way you're more likely to achieve your goals. Plus, by setting an achievable goal you'll feel awesome when it happens and even better if you squeeze in an extra session.   Likewise healthy eating, how many of us are guilty of just grabbing a takeaway on the way home because it's convenient and we haven't got anything else in. Well again I recommend applying the same tactics. Make a plan but ensure its realistic. When I first turned my diet around and began eating healthier I started with breakfasts. I picked nutirent dense food that filled me up and gave me brain power, instead of skipping breakfast and reaching for a chocolate bar by 10am. Starting the day also helped me to continue to make good choices because I was on a roll!

2. Learn to say no
Now you've got the plan you need to protect it. Although I'm pretty relaxed and aware that sometimes life just happens I believe that to make the most out of life you need to have a plan and stick to it. By saying yes to everything and everyone you spread yourself too thin and have a good chance of making yourself tired and unhappy. Life is full of so many opportunities and it's tempting to be the yes man and say yes to everyone but you have to be selective. What are your priorities? If you're not sure try working backwards, where do you want to be? I want to do well in my career and I want to be able to go on regular adventures. Luckily they go hand and hand as a successful career will fund my adventures. Therefore my priority is working hard and investing my time on my future. However, I regularly suffer from the magpie syndrome. I see a shiny opportunity that I want and I go over piste to get it too. A really good example is the fitness world, I get invited to the launch of the latest product I'm sort of interested in or to take part in a fitness class that some people I vaguely know through social media are going to and all of a sudden I'm setting a 4am alarm to travel across the other side of the city to fit in an event before work. Sometimes the events are great, sometimes they aren't. By being selective now and politely declining those that aren't really my field I can focus on the things that do matter, like spending that time in bed (sleep is a massive priotity) spending the morning walking my dog and ensuring I'm focused on work and not too tired to deliver. By saying no and working hard it means when the right opportunity does come along I can say yes. I started this technique by commiting to one thing in the week which I said was going to happen and that nothing was going to get in the way. Your friends, colleagues and other half will understand that is a scheduled engagement and moving it is not negotiable. Whether its a Monday night gym class or a Wednesday morning lie in, book it in and commit and say no when someone asks you to change it.

3. Take regular reality checks
You're doing the best you can and your best is good enough. Step out of the bubble of health and fitness where everyone seems to be at the gym at 6am every morning (with a full face of make-up??!!) and compare yourself to regular people. Most people do not have a gym membership. Most people don't go for regular runs and most people do not regularly eat healthy food. Don't be so hard on yourself and take a step back and look at the reality of what you've achieved. In writing this post ive realised that I've had a whirlwind six months. I decided my job as a commercial lawyer in the City was no longer making me happy and that I wanted to live in the country. Since October, as well as changing jobs to one that I now love and buying a house in the countryside I also climbed Kilimanjaro, learnt how to snowboard and started marathon training. I have crammed in so much and I am incredibly lucky I wouldn't change it for the world. It's been intense and at times I have felt like crying because I was so exhausted but then I gave myself a reality check and I realise that I have now turned my dreams into reality and I am so much happier for it. Yes it is tough living life at a hundred miles an hour but I wouldn't have it any other way. One of my favourite sayings is "one day I won't be able to do this, today is not that day". Go out and live life on your terms, say yes to new opportunities but say no to the things that don't set your hear on fire.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this, whether you've tried it and how it works for you.

Lucy x