This Midwestern people-pleaser has gotten pretty good at saying no when necessary when others ask things of me. The thing I’ve realized I still need to work on: ASKING for what I need in the small things in my life. Let me walk you through what I mean and why it’s important to work on.
If you avoid confrontation and inconveniencing people, I’m right there with you – and this episode is for you.
To take my free 5-day program, the Reset and Refresh, click here: https://kellynolan.com/reset-refresh.
For more about the Bright Method and Kelly Nolan, please visit https://kellynolan.com/.
I also share actionable bite-sized time management strategies on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/_kellynolan_/. Come hang out with me there!
[Upbeat Intro Music]
Kelly Nolan: Welcome to The Bright Method Podcast where we’ll discuss practical time management strategies designed for the professional working woman. I’m Kelly Nolan, a former patent litigator who now works with women to set up The Bright Method in their lives. The Bright Method is a realistic time management system that helps you manage it all, personally and professionally. Let’s get you falling asleep proud of what you got done today and calm about what’s on tap tomorrow. All right, let’s dig in!
Today, we’re gonna talk about something that might not come off immediately as time-management related, but I hope it becomes clear to you as we keep going that it is very much time-management related.
Just to give you some context, I am a Midwestern people-pleaser person by nature. What’s really great is that over time I’ve been able to overcome that in major degrees in terms of drawing boundaries around where I give my time and energy. So, over time, as I’ve gotten more confident in understanding my capacity and my workload using The Bright Method and just understanding objectively what my abilities are and how much opportunities that are presented to me cost, from a time and energy standpoint, I’m better able to evaluate whether I should take opportunities on and more confident in my yesses or no’s because they’re more informed decisions because of this.
One thing I just am not as clear on, I haven’t been as clear on, is the flip of that: asking for the things that I need. Now, just to caveat that, I’m really good at it in certain scenarios. I’m really good at knowing when I need help on a childcare perspective. Probably because the need is so strong at those times, that it’s such a glaring need that I get comfortable. I make myself ask, whether it’s hiring people, whether it’s talking to family members. It doesn’t mean that I don’t have maybe some guilt around asking, but for the most part, I make myself ask in those contexts. And same in a work setting. I got better at asking for the support or the reduced workload or whatever it might be in a work setting.
But in my personal life, when it comes to how I manage my life and the little things that I do on a day-to-day basis, I, for some reason, have realized that I am not as good at that. I think what it is is it’s a fear of inconveniencing people. When I was 15 and learning to drive, I have this image, I have this very clear memory in my head of getting onto a highway on the onramp merging, and my dad really explained that as you learn to drive, you really don’t want to drive in a way that asks or assumes that someone else will change their path to accommodate you. Just from a drivers’ safety standpoint, that makes a ton of sense. You don’t want to drive in a way that your safety depends on other people adapting what they are doing to allow you to do what you need to do.
The problem is — I mean, that’s really good from a driving standpoint — I’ve realized that I kind of live my personal life like that to a degree. I kind of do my own thing, I feel good about doing it as long as I’m not inconveniencing other people or, in my mind, I view it as I’m inconveniencing them. They might not even notice, but I am hypersensitive to not inconveniencing other people. That’s pretty interesting because I’ve realized that I am not actually inconveniencing people as much as I think I am just by asking for what I need.
The Power of Asking For What You Want – 3:48
So let me bring this back to what I really want to talk about. About two weeks ago, I don’t really know why I started doing this, but I started really pushing myself to ask. I just think of it as just ask. Just as for what you want and see if it can happen. What had happened was I think maybe three weeks ago I finally got in — by the way, if you need your car repaired, it takes a long time right now. But I finally got into a car repair shop, and (if you follow me on Instagram, you might know this) I basically was backing out of my garage a millisecond too early and the garage door clipped the very tippy top of that shark fin radio antenna thing on top of my car, and it took it off, and apparently it’s a big repair, and apparently it happens a lot. They do, like, three a month they said at the car repair shop.
I dropped my car off, and I was going out of town the following end of week, and I think they were saying that it would be done the Thursday, and on that Thursday is when I was flying out to meet up with some law school friends for a fun trip. That was gonna be a big inconvenience. Just by getting the car back on Thursday, I’d already be gone. That means my husband, who’s solo parenting both kids, would have to drive the rental car to pick it up, move the car seats in, switch the cars, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. You get it. And then also, I really wanted to drive to the airport, park, and then be able to fly in and out and then just get back in the car and get home as quickly as I could. If I didn’t have a car, I couldn’t do that either.
It’s funny how these little things, like when your car will be available, have these ripple effects on you and the rest of your life. In that scenario, it was a little bit more obvious to me to ask, and so, I just said, “So appreciate what you guys are doing. If there is any way to get the car back by end of day Wednesday, even Wednesday evening instead of Thursday, we’d really appreciate it,” and I kind of explained the situation like I just did, and it worked! I mean, the woman helping me, they were awesome. If you need a car shop in Minnesota, give me a call or shoot me an email or ask me on Instagram. I’m happy to recommend them. But they were really wonderful and got it done Wednesday. They couldn’t guarantee it, but they did their best, and it worked out really well, kept it clean, made it easy for my husband, made it easy for me.
That was a little bit more obvious, but it was the power of asking, and it did push me outside of my comfort zone to do it. What was cool, though, is that kind of started snowballing the rest of the week into I had two appointments one day. At one point, one was an hour later. It gave me time to drive between them. The issue was the first appointment, I think I got there ten minutes early, and it took five minutes, so I was done super early, and I was like, “Man, I have all this no-man’s-land time between now and my next appointment,” and this is literally how I think of doing these things. I was like I have a book. I will sit in the parking lot and read my book for that period of time, and I think because I had just asked about the car repair, I was like, “Well, why don’t you just call and see if they can get you in earlier?” Which, probably for half of you listening, maybe you’re thinking, “That is an obvious solution. I can’t believe you wouldn’t think of that,” but maybe some of you are like me and it wouldn’t be the first thing to pop to mind. You might be like, “Well, maybe I can run another errand. Maybe I could get some gas. Maybe I could do something else for that period of time and get a coffee and wait,” instead of just calling and saying, “Hey, is there any chance you guys have an earlier appointment?”
Sure enough, I called. they got me in. So I literally drove up to the second spot I think 45 minutes before my original appointment, did the appointment, and was back home before the original appointment would even have started. I think it was such an interesting understanding of suddenly that opened up more of my time to do the things I really needed to do and wanted to do. I think I got to workout and shower, something like that, instead of just reading a book in the parking lot, which isn’t the worst thing in the world, but maybe not my number one choice of what I would have done during that day at that time.
Another time that same week — there were a lot of opportunities, and it was like the week of just asking — I called to see if I could reschedule an appointment, I emailed in because that’s what they preferred, and they couldn’t, and that was fine. At least then I knew that the rick and roll that I was putting myself through if I wanted that service, which I did, was worth it and kind of my only option, and that was fine.
I know I’m giving you a lot of examples, but I think it’s helpful to hear the tiny examples I’m talking about, but they really have an impact. The final thing was a little bit less time related, but money related is I actually was buying and returning so many microphones and things like that to produce this podcast, and one of them was a microphone that I bought at Best Buy, and I couldn’t find part of the packaging and the box to return it. It was a $100 microphone, and I think this was more about confrontation. I actually really don’t like confrontation, which is hilarious given that I was a litigator for years, but I felt guilty, and I almost didn’t even take the mic back into Best Buy to return it. I was like, “Kelly, just ask.” And so, I just took it, and I was up front. I was like, “I can’t find this piece of the packaging. Is it okay if I still return it?” The woman looked at me like, “Of course, you not-so-smart person. You can return it!” And I did, and that was $100 back in my bank account because I just asked.
So I’m giving you these examples because these are truly scenarios, as someone who teaches about boundary setting and things like that, you might be similar, you might work on your boundaries but still not do the flip of it where you’re asking, and I find it so fascinating that it’s actually like a muscle. The more I asked that week, the more two things happened. One, I understood what I wanted more. And it’s kind of weird to say that, but when I wasn’t asking for what I needed, it’s almost like my brain was like, “Well, there’s nothing to do be done, so don’t even think about what you need or what you want,” but when I started asking for what I wanted even on these small things, it’s almost like I was able to pick up more clearly and more easily on what I wanted, and maybe it’s because my brain was like, “Oh, cool. We’re doing something about this. Let’s actually make it known what we want.” I have no idea. But it’s really like a muscle that the more I ask for what I wanted based on what I wanted and felt, the more I was able to understand what I wanted and felt, if that makes any sense.
So just throwing it out there that I think that’s really fascinating and a good nudge for you if you are similar to me, if you don’t like inconveniencing people, you don’t like confrontation, even though that wasn’t confrontational to return that mic, but it just felt like it might be, so I didn’t want to do it. The more you push yourself to do these things even on the small scale, it snowballs into understanding what you even want to begin with, and that’s really powerful because then we can do something about it.
That relates to the second point. The more I asked, the more I was open to asking because it was something that I saw I could do easily in a kind and professional and respectful way, and I got more creative about what could I ask for, how could I make this work. And so, for example, I know it sounds so silly probably to some of you where you’re like, “Of course you would call to see if there was an earlier appointment,” I truly did not used to think that way. But even in the course of a week, just by asking for other things, then when that situation arose, I was like, “Well, why don’t I just ask to see if I can get in earlier?” It actually prompted more creativity to go on in my head to help me ask for what I needed.
So just start asking for the things that you want, even in tiny ways, because it really helps you start to pick up on what you do want and then get creative and kind of issue spot, like spot the opportunities to do the asking that you might have completely ignored even a week ago.
I think of this from a time-management perspective because obviously some of these examples had to do with time and how I was using my time, whether it’s can I drive myself to the airport versus getting an Uber and the convenience of being able to walk off a plane and go straight to my car and drive home versus wait for cars and things like that, and coming home and being able to do a workout and things like that and just use my time more in the ways that I wanted and take some control and ownership of my time. That is really important, but it also introduces a level of ease into our lives, and I think that even though that might not be a strict how-you-use-your-time perspective, it does introduce a level of ownership and ease over how we use our time in a way that I think is really worth pursuing.
So I know this was a bit of a random episode, but it’s something that I’ve been finding interesting and wanted to share. I think that it’s really worth the nudge if you are someone who’s similar of avoiding inconveniencing people and confrontation and all of that, to just start doing it and realizing that looking back on all of those examples, I don’t think any of those people cared that I asked. I don’t know why I had this narrative in my head that I’m inconveniencing people when the car repair shop and all the appointment places that I called and Best Buy, truly no one cared that I was asking them to do this. And so, I think it was a good wakeup call for me that maybe my whole narrative of, “Ugh, I’m inconveniencing people,” is a little bit overblown in my head, and that asking is totally fine, and not asking really isn’t saving anyone from anything, and it’s just hurting me.
So I encourage you to keep your mind open to that as well. And so, until next time, just ask! If you’ve had any lightbulb moments here, please go ahead and send this episode to some friends. I really appreciate it and thank you. Talk to you soon!
[Upbeat Outro Music]