08/05/2014 12:38 pm ET Updated Oct 04, 2014

I Chose to Say No

I'm a time coach who aims to authentically live out my advice. That means I have to face the same challenges you do. Like this one...

One month, I was traveling to California, North Carolina, and the UP in Michigan for speaking events and taking some personal trips too. That meant I need to carefully guard my time so I could prepare for and keep up when I was on the road. I blocked out my weekly schedule, leaving room for big projects and setting limits on my work hours so I could take care of my personal responsibilities.

Well a couple of situations arose that gave me pause. One was with a fantastic young professional where we had been trying to meet face-to-face for months. She couldn't meet during the time slot I had available and suggested some alternative times right before my trip.

I waited a day to respond.

You see, I needed to face the internal struggle between wanting to spend time with this individual and wanting to complete my preparation for the coming month. (I average about two networking meetings or phone calls a week so I do make this important activity a priority.)

Finally I decided that I needed to stick with my original plans. I sent her an e-mail affirming that I wanted to meet with her but that it would need to be a phone call because my time was booked out for the month.

She kindly understood and we arranged for the appropriate follow up. I felt relieved because I had kept my schedule aligned with my values and wasn't compromising the short-term gain of making someone happy for the long-term advantage of being balanced and feeling good about both what I accomplished personally and professionally.

How about you?

Are you aware of what's on your schedule and making the tough choices with courage and confidence? Especially if you're a small business owner, the success of your business and the maintenance of your sanity depends on consistently making tough choices aligned with your values.


About Real Life E
Elizabeth Grace Saunders is the founder and CEO of Real Life E, a time coaching and training company that empowers individuals who feel guilty, overwhelmed and frustrated to feel peaceful, confident and accomplished through an exclusive Schedule Makeover process. She is an expert on achieving more success with less stress. Real Life E also increases employee productivity, satisfaction and work/life balance through custom training programs.

McGraw Hill published her first book The 3 Secrets to Effective Time Investment: How to Achieve More Success with Less Stress. Elizabeth contributes to blogs like Lifehacker, Harvard Business Review, Forbes, and the 99U blog on productivity for creative professionals. She was selected as one of the Top 25 Amazing Women of the Year by Stiletto Woman.