The art of saying “no”

So many of us who go into medical school are overachievers. We have tried to do everything. Student council presidents, valedictorians, researchers, first aiders, varsity athletes, talented musicians, debaters, model UNers, actors, etc. The list goes on. We like to be busy and we’re very good at balancing our schedules and very good at achieving. That’s part of how we ended up in medicine in the first place.

This, our greatest strength, is also our greatest weakness. Anything is good in moderation. However, for any virtue, there is a vice of excess. For me, I know that I struggle with saying “No”. Part of this is because the world is fascinating and I so badly want to help as many people as possible, and part of it is that I don’t want to let anyone down.

Unfortunately, if you don’t say no sometimes, it’s only a matter of time before your schedule gets too full and you end up completely overwhelmed and burnout. I felt burnt out after pushing myself too hard this year and it was challenging to fulfil any of my commitments. I knew I needed a reality check and a shift in my thinking. So I said “No.”

I said “No” to social events when I was tired, to extra curriculars that sounded great but I didn’t have time for. I said “No” to taking on extra work in class. I said “No” to sitting on new subcommittees that didn’t fit with my goals and that I wasn’t completely passionate about. In doing this I made new time for my friends, my family, the hobbies that I love, and commitments that will help me achieve my goals. My stress levels are lower. And, every time saying no gets a little bit easier.

You can be an impressive person without overwhelming yourself. To be the best you, say no to the extraneous and do what you love with 110% commitment. Take breaks when you need them. Saying “No” doesn’t make you any less or weak – it makes you strong and wise!

Say “No” sometimes!

 

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