Sunday, November 21, 2010

Say NO to the Time Bandits and Reach your Goals

In the U.S. if someone suggests you do something social and you turn down the invite, that’s it. End of story. “Something came up” is usually a good enough excuse even if you cancel last minute. I guess it’s politically incorrect to probe.

In Spain, even if you argue that you haven’t slept in two days to meet a deadline and have to get up at the crack of dawn to take the kids to school and work, your friends will insist over and over that you join them for a drink and tapas. If, led by guilt, you finally show up but tell them that you will only be there for an hour, they will say ok, but when your time is up and you get up to leave they will call you a party pooper, they will hide your car keys if need be, and they will all rant and rave about how they have to get up early too (they usually do!) and how they never see you etc. etc. and why don’t you just stay for the last drink! So you end up chatting it up until the wee hours, sleeping nothing – again – your brain turned into mush while you nap instead of working, and wondering when you’ll find time to ever write your novel.

Having lived in Spain for most of my life, I had to learn to say no – even though I was guilt-ridden to the core – and at one of my book launches I thanked my friends who were in the audience for coming and I explained that the new book was the result of so many missed dinners, outings, parties and not picking up the phone to chat for hours. They seemed to understand, but then they told me we had to celebrate until 5 a.m. to make up for it. Of course I joined them and was useless the next day.

I love my friends and family, but I’ve also learned to be a little selfish with my time. This past year I managed to get my translating and writing work done, turn in a book proposal, a book and write the first draft of a novel plus keep up my 2 times a week blogging schedule (I publish my blog in two languages, so I translate the posts). But I’ve also volunteered at my kids’ school, taken them on trips, and enjoyed down-time with them and my significant other.


Other than not watching TV at all which I share in a previous post, I say “no” a lot. I love parties, I love dancing, I love socializing. But if I accept every invite to volunteer, to go to a party or presentation and chat on the phone every time it rings, I won’t have time to write.
So, I choose my yeses carefully.

That’s why in February 2011 my 16th book will hit bookstores.

I make time for my goals.

What can you say no to more often?

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