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    by Ngozi Osuagwu, MD | January 7th, 2018


    I was recently talking with a friend who was telling me how overwhelmed she felt. She stated that she had a lot on her plate and was exhausted. She had no time for herself. She felt burned-out.  I then blurted out, you know that “no is a complete sentence”.

    I went to a workshop offered at my job early last year that was led by Executive Coach, Regan Walsh where the title of the workshop was Strategic Life Planning. As women we often feel that we are pulled in several directions.  Our gut reaction is often to say yes even when we know that we might be overextending ourselves. We do not want to disappoint our family, friends or colleagues. We get labeled ‘superwoman’ but deep inside we do not feel super at all. We are tired and exhausted. We end up not finding the time to do the things that we believe are really important.

    In the workshop, Ms. Welsh provided a worksheet titled, No is a Complete Sentence. The worksheet listed the eight dimensions of life:

    Work: Your career

    Money: Financial security, income, retirement

    Living Environment: Your home, office, transportation

    Personal Growth: What you do to learn or improve yourself

    Health & Wellness: Everything you do to take care of yourself (diet, exercise, doctor’s appointments, meditation)

    Community: Friends, community involvement, social life

    Family: Parents, partner, children, siblings, in-laws, etc.

    Spirituality: Religion, philosophy

    She had us list the three life dimensions that represented our top priority and had us write down how we would measure success in these life dimensions.  By knowing our priority, we can make choices. It becomes easier to say yes to what is important and say no to those things that are not our priority at the current time.

    There is no right or wrong answer to what is your priority. There are no expectations.  Priorities change with time.

    You might choose to do this exercise (list the three life dimensions that represent your top priority and next to each, write how you would measure success in these life dimensions) every three months, six months or annually. For me, I have chosen to do it every year.  Last year, I had the list on my smartphone and would glance at it periodically especially at times when I would have to make a decision that would require my time. I would ask myself, does this new activity align with my priority?

    I filled out a new worksheet this weekend and then compared it to what I wrote last year. My priorities this year have changed. Based on what I have chosen as my priorities, I will remember that no is a complete sentence and I will not feel guilty.

    Ms. Walsh is an Executive Coach and her website is



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