Many women get to the end of the working week and notice that a lot of their time has been focused on other people’s goals and agendas. Often we have the best intentions to focus on our own particular needs and goals, both personally and professionally. Yet, sometimes we reach the end of the working week and there simply doesn’t seem to be the time for the things that really matter to us. Does this sound familiar? Most of us have times in our lives where we seem to be a people pleaser and put everyone else’s needs before our own, bringing a deep sense of dissatisfaction. This can manifest through a lack of time, productivity, motivation and fun as well as a lack of focus. The good news is that there are ways to address this. 

Being a people pleaser is a term often felt more by women and is used to define someone who puts the needs of others before themselves on a frequent basis. Whilst this may sound like a positive attribute, it can lead to the person feeling used, overloaded, over-looked and not respected.

To address being a people pleaser it often involves regularly reviewing your life. By eliminating tasks, meetings, conversations and items that no longer have a clear purpose, no longer bring you joy or would be best carried out by someone else. It can be easy to forget that we have choices and yet by continually reviewing your life on a regular basis, we start noticing items to eliminate more quickly. In my coaching sessions, I notice people becoming more aware of what they no longer need or want to do any more and they start eliminating these items – by saying “No”. 

What makes us a people pleaser?

It can be useful to notice your own triggers. What makes you say yes to things when you really mean no? Here is a common list of reasons:

  • Our upbringing – we may have been brought up in a family who valued the trait of “putting others before yourself” and praised us for doing so. In our adult lives we continue with these patterns until we recognise there are choices.
  • Our personality – some people are perfectionists, for example, or others want to be involved in everything and our personality preferences can drive us to be involved in things we do not necessarily need to be.
  • Wanting to please people because it feels good that others like us.
  • Fear of being judged as not good enough or not coping. 
  • Being a “martyr” – feeling that we must do things because that is the position we have always adopted.
  • The feeling of being in control of everything
  • Fear of missing out – not attending a meeting may bring with it a feeling that you are missing out on some key information or knowledge
  • It is easier to do what we have always done – fear of change
  • Other people’s expectations of us.

Why say “No”?

The driver for eliminating items in our lives is immense. It brings us renewed energy. Here are some of the key areas that benefit from us saying no:

  • To achieve our own goals and prioritise these
  • To focus on the work that brings us satisfaction
  • To increase our productivity 
  • To ensure we are being assertive
  • To manage our time effectively
  • To look after our work life balance
  • To maintain our energy levels 
  • To have space in our working week to take on work outside of our comfort zone 

Strategies for working out when to say “No” and stop being a people pleaser

Consider the following strategies when starting to eliminate items. Remember that this is a continuous self-development process rather than a one-off process. It is therefore useful to carve out time regularly to notice items that have built up that need eliminating:

  • Establish clear boundaries for your time – and stick to them.
  • Consider the regular meetings you attend and ensure you review these continually to confirm their purpose and value.
  • Consider who could attend certain meetings in your place, for example this may provide someone in your team an opportunity to step up or learn something in place of you.
  • Consider running shorter and more effective meetings, for example finishing on time, or only attending part of a meeting rather than all of it.  
  • Review your administration items and consider if you need to do it all.

In our Women in Leadership coaching sessions, we develop an awareness of our ability to say no, as well as focusing on our future end goal. Through regular coaching sessions I notice people becoming more efficient at how they spend their time through this focus. 

I encourage you to consider items that you need to eliminate over the coming months, to help keep yourself energised and motivated. If you wish to work on this or have any questions for me, please get in touch to arrange a no obligation initial consultation.

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