Declaring Personal Favor Bankruptcy
As anyone who has seen me on the dance floor in any club anywhere in the world, I am a girl who never says No.
This week I logged into my personal inbox and almost threw up. 77 new messages in just 48 hours. My TMBA email inbox was even better, with 169 new messages, including DC notifications. Facebook offered no further solace. 56 new notifications, 2 friend requests, and 14 new messages.
I wanted to curl up in a ball and shut my eyes tight as possible in some vain attempt to make it all go away. Unfortunately, that trick didn’t work when I was 4 years old and certainly wasn’t going to magically manifest 28 years later. I grabbed some caffeine and a bag of M&M’s and did what any reasonable person would do.
I dove into my online prisons like a guerilla fighter mud-running barbed ground wire. I would take no prisoners and pillage through my work like a hun.
Three days later I have advanced approximately 50 yards in battle. If this were a war zone I’d need a medic. There’s still something worth saving, but I’ve got some serious internal bleeding going on here.
I am declaring Personal Favor Bankruptcy.
What the hell does that mean? Well, I don’t really know how to declare personal bankruptcy, so it might not even be vaguely similar. In fact, I’m kinda forming this by the seat of my pants. Basically, I’m choosing to be downright arrogant with my energy and resources.
Why don’t I just “Select All” and archive?
First off there’s stuff in there that actually needs to be done. Secondly, there’s stuff in there I actually want to do.
Third, and the largest crux of the issue, I have a massive problem with the word NO. I used to think maybe I wanted everyone to like me (classic people-pleasing mentality) but then I realized that there are lots of people who don’t like me and I’m rather ok with that. Instead, I realized that I say YES all the time because I don’t want to miss out on something amazing. I love being a part of great stuff.
Plus, confrontation is such a suck of life. I avoid it because I don’t like wasting my time on it.
If you can’t get to something for three days people will harass you over email, Twitter, Facebook, and anywhere else that they can find you (#protip – this isn’t an effective strategy.) Or if you say No you then have to go back and forth multiple times while they attempt to talk you into it. Maybe I just need to start being a flat out jerk? Nah, that’s not me.
So how does one figure out what to work on and what to respectfully decline or delegate?
- How Much Do I Want To Be A Part Of It? In the brilliant words of Derek Sivers, if the immediate reaction to a request for your resources (time, money, knowledge, etc) is not emphatically “Fuck Yeah” then why are you wasting your energy on it?
- Have We Talked/Written/Communicated More Than 3 Times This Year? – No, that doesn’t mean a retweet. Do I have a vested personal and/or professional relationship with you? Or are you just hitting me up because I’m famously a nice-girl-doormat and you are sending notes to everyone in your address book anyways? Unsure? See # 1.
- Do I Owe You A Favor? - I’m not a fan of keeping track of “who owes me.” Keeping track of who owes you favors is playing small ball. But if I owe you…I owe you. And if you want to collect I’m in. But on my priority level.
- Can Someone Else Do This Faster Or Better? - I can enter data and mix spreadsheets with the best of them. But my VA is like a ninja on Google Docs. Sure, it takes some time investment to explain exactly what needs to be done, but delgating the work to her frees me up to work on higher level shit that I enjoy. Trying to figure out the time spend paradox? See # 1.
- Are You Making This Easy For Both Of Us? - I know some people who won’t reply to an email if it is over X lines or doesn’t have specifically worded questions. That’s not my style. But are you sending me a life manifesto and asking for analysis? An obviously blanket press pitch? A meeting request that is open-ended? If you want my time or help, make it easy. Otherwise, please see #1.
I really enjoyed the past week. Spending time with people I love. Doing things that mattered to me. Living new experiences. Laughing til my stomach ached and tears streamed down my cheeks. Getting ice cream cones with a cute boy and sitting on the pier comparing scars and stories from our travels. Watching friends stand together, staring into each others’ eyes with such happiness that I was reminded that extraordinary love DOES exist in this world and that I am fortunate enough to know people who have found it.
I also enjoy my work. I love helping people create businesses and lives that gives them the freedom and opportunities I have come to crave and want for everyone I encounter. I love writing and analyzing relationships and creating epic shit. I love collaborating with people and editing their writing and proposals to take their awesome products and make them even awesomer.
There comes a time, though, when I have to step back and realize that I’m so hopped up on stay-awake pills and caffeinated iced tea that I have moments where I just sit quietly to stop shaking or finally crash and nap for 4 hours at 11:30 AM. I’m *this close* to a Jessie Spano breakdown.
Sometimes, your own life and sanity are worth the price of pissing a few people off and not getting to do everything you want to do. It also begins to set a precedent for you and your interactions. You want to help others and work with others and be part of amazing things.
Your personal resources are limited and valuable. The moment you start realizing and enforcing that, others will follow.
Declaring a personal favor bankruptcy to focus on your own shit is not only a selfishly beautiful thing to do, it is the only way you can be any good for others in the future.
Zombies, while great fodder for pop culture and social media, do not make for great workers or companions.
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