There is such a thing as backing out of commitments gracefully….

DSC07097 I have a confession (which will not come as a surprise to my husband): I have a hard time saying NO to things, especially during the Holiday season. Some might refer to this as an over-commitment problem, but I prefer view it as a habit of saying YES. There’s just so much I want to do, experience I want to take in, and so much to be a part of in this amazing world we live in.

I finally met my match recently with the amount of YES I had agreed to. For the past 7 years, I have been heavily involved in a volunteer group that is very near to my heart. I had spent easily 10+ hours a week dedicated to this group and was carrying a lot of responsibilities (organizing meetings, calls, project managing a major annual event). Things in my life started to take a turn; I was experiencing a major bandwidth issue and was starting to experience anxiety over how I was going to get everything done.

Here was my issue: I had said YES, and just the thought of backing out gave me a near panic attack. My inner critic was saying things like, ”You gave your word. People are counting on your. How can you let them down? You’re going to disappoint everyone!”

I knew in my heart that I needed to create space in my life to grow and, while it didn’t mean that I was completely stepping away from my volunteer group, I needed to pass the baton. I needed to have the conversation. Woah, scary! This got me thinking: how do you back out of commitments gracefully, so that you feel good about your decision?

Here’s what works for me:

1. Set a clear intention for how you want the conversation to go. How do you want to experience the conversation?
2. Have the conversation from a neutral place; ensure that you are internally 100% resolved to the decision you’ve made. Some things I consider: What doors does this decision open for me? What doors does this open up for others?
3. Always have the tough conversation in person or over the phone. Email should be a last resort. And, text is absolute no no.
4. Honesty is the best policy; keep your respect in tact and doors open.
5. Show Gratitude – There’s always an opportunity to show appreciation. This can be in the form of finding your replacement, writing a note, or making a call.

Warning: you might experience mixed emotions when you back out of a commitment gracefully, especially if it’s something that’s been a part of your life regularly. That is OK. Rest assured, that is natural, and I encourage you to take note of how you’re relating to those feelings.

I attended the big annual concert for my volunteer group this week and noticed I felt a bit of sadness (missing my tribe), distance (because I hadn’t been a part of the day-to-day), joy (incredibly proud of what they accomplished) and most of all gratitude for the amazing experiences they’ve all brought to my life. I allowed myself to sit in those feelings and actually experience them, albeit some of them uncomfortable, which is a pattern change for me. To my surprise, the next morning I was left with pure gratitude and joy for this amazing group of volunteers and all the life lessons I’ve learned from them.

Maybe it’s time to take inventory of your commitments and ask yourself, are there any commitments that are not serving you for your highest good? If there are, now you have some tips on how to back out gracefully.

Happy Holidays to you,

Sarah xx

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