Lesson in assertiveness: Time is precious

This weekend I enjoyed a pub lunch with friends.

As my schedule is really busy it’s a great opportunity see people I haven’t seen for a while.

I enjoyed the catchup so so much I finished off the meal with a digestif at the bar.

Afterwards we headed back to a friends house and a film was put on.

As I struggle to sit down and enjoy modern films, I knew this wasn’t for me, especially ones I’ve already seen, it was Tom Cruise in The Mummy – an okay film but not one deserving a second viewing.

For the first 10 minutes I sat uncomfortably and kept checking my watch, thought about the jobs I should be doing and the time I could utilise with my daughter who’d be going to bed in two hours.

I just couldn’t justify hanging around watching a mediocre movie, when time could be used more wisely on other pressing commitments.  So I thanked everyone for the lovely time put my coat on and left.

A part of me felt bad for leaving, like I was letting the side down – on the drive home it dawned on me that it was a reoccuring event for me to be the last to arrive and first to leave.

I couldn’t help wondering what my friends thought on my decision to go.  Did they feel snubbed?

But I reassured myself noting that my time was too important to be wasted doing something I didn’t want to, life is too short to waste my most precious asset – time.

Once I would have stayed out of politeness, but with so many commitments, interests and goals, every second of time matters and I chose carefully how I spend this.

If you have trouble asserting how you spend your time I recommend doing the following:

Be polite

If you have to be somewhere simply state the facts.

I often tell people I want to put my daughter to bed – this is not an excuse just a pressing priority I would much rather do and an important part of my fatherhood goals which no one can manipulate me into missing!

You don’t have to get nasty or defensive just politely thank everyone for the time and leave.

If you want to start spending your time wisely get used to saying “no thank you” and sticking to your decision.

Be unapologetic

When making your departure don’t be apologetic, don’t say “I’m sorry I’ve got to go”, that just sounds like you are making excuses and have a guilty conscious for going.

You have nothing to be sorry for!  Why should you say sorry for making an assertive decision how you spend your own free time?

Own your decision – don’t be sorry for using your time carefully.

Don’t sweat the opinions of others

You’ve made the decision to leave.

If you struggle with assertiveness this is probably the time you start feeling bad.

Those who lack assertiveness want to please people and naturally think:

“Are they offended by my rejection?”

“Are my friends feeling pushed out?”

Are my friends slagging me off at this moment because they think I’m too good to spend the time with them?

Don’t sweat any of these concerns!  It’s likely none of these scenarios are occurring and your decision is totally respected.

And in the event friends are thinking this – who cares?  If they have this attitude I would question if the friendship is worth it and whether it is worth spending anymore priceless time with them!

Time is precious: look after yourself

I’ve spent many years conforming to friends wishes – going to events I’m not interested in, taking part in activities I don’t want to do, all to keep others happy and feel like I’m fitting in.

The secret time hack I never realised was that people don’t get as offended as you think when you assert yourself and say you don’t want to do something.

Remember your time is precious, if you are not assertive you have to learn how to become the master of how you spend your time, or forever be a  victim – having how you spend this precious commodity dictated by others.

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