Picture a glass.

Whatever its size, its capacity is based on that size. So, whether it is 8oz. or 12oz. or 16oz., once full, if you add anything else the contents will overflow and likely cause a mess.

There may not be a limit to your talent, creativity and drive. But in any given moment, you do have some limits on what you can expend  – whether it is measured in time, money or patience.

Some people only see the need to recalibrate when something fails and they miss the mark with finishing a project or meeting a goal. However, when your proverbial cup is beyond full, that, too, is a time to recalibrate

This is a lesson I recently relearned.

I was reminded that when you add something to your plate, it’s best if you also take something off of it, too.

Otherwise, you can end up feeling exhausted and overwhelmed. At least this was true in my case.

As I share this with you now, I am having a “duh?” moment. Because it is so darn obvious…in hindsight! Cue the wisdom of Søren Kierkegaard: “Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.”

Can you relate?

Think about what you have recently added to your proverbial plate. Is it a new project or goal? What has you excited about this “new” thing, and what is it designed to do in and for your life (or career/business)?

Whatever your answers, have you given thought to what needs to come off your plate or what needs to be given a lower priority status, so that you can focus and make sufficient room for the new project or goal you want to flourish?

I don’t ask the above questions to diminish your excitement about your new “thing.” Quite the opposite, actually.

Pausing to give some forethought to what needs to be released or re-prioritized in order to make room for what’s new is what ends up sustaining your elation!

Yet, most of us (it can’t just be me, right?!) typically consider the “let go/make room factor” after its becomes obvious that we didn’t do this calculation upfront.

This tends to happen when you say “yes,” but forget about how you also need to say “no” or “not right now” elsewhere! Especially if you don’t want to end up feeling exhausted, overwhelmed and frustrated. Especially if you don’t want to tap out your resources (especially with regard to your energy).

The Art of Saying No

In most instances, when we think of just saying, “no,” we equate it with saying no to others. But what we must also remember is that we need to say “no” to ourselves at times, too. And this is hard as heck!

But here are three choices that can help:

Be Intentional

Eventually your excitement about your “new” thing is going to come face-to-face with the reality of your capacity. Because making room for your new project or goal doesn’t just happen. You have to do it on purpose. 

If you want the new thing to succeed, you have to figure out how to create the space it needs. This means figuring out what you need to say “no” to — do you need to say no to scheduling more appointments; do you need to put a cap on how much money you’re spending; do you need to rest more (which may mean saying no to some social activities)?

Get Clear

Be willing to discover what decision you’re putting off and why. Whenever you find yourself resistant to saying “no,” it’s for a reason. And usually that reason is connected to something you’d prefer delaying taking action on or making a decision about.


Whether you realize it or not, whenever you add something new to the mix – project or goal – you are altering the rhythm of how your live and work. Even if subtly. Even if for a short period of time.

So when your cup overflows…when you’ve exceeded your capacity – aka when you find yourself too busy, too drained, pulled in too many different directions, this is a glaring clue that you need to recalibrate. It is now time to figure out what adjustments need to be made and what’s the best way to make them.

Be Less Messy

Recalibrate – verb. As defined by Merriam Webster: “…these systems gradually drift off course so that the navigator periodically needs a fresh point of reference…”

I doubt if there’s a person reading this that doesn’t currently (or won’t soon) need to recalibrate. Why do I feel so confident making such an assertion? Because you are a striver — there is something in your life, career and business that you want more of.

Which means your proverbial cup is likely and consistently full.

Which means it may even be on the verge of overflowing.

Which means there is something in your life, career and business that you need to make room for.

Which means you will need to reset your course and create a new rhythm.

Which means there’s something to which you must say “no” or “not right now” to. It doesn’t have to be forever. But it does need to be long enough for your new rhythm to take hold and for the “new” thing to settle nicely into the space you’ve created for it.

Just as soon as you (and I) say “yes” to a new project or goal, the clues that you (and me) need to recalibrate become evident pretty quickly. Though we typically only pay attention when things have reached a crescendo.

What are your clues?

In my case, it showed up as complete and total exhaustion. That was my clue that a shift in how I work was sorely needed.

My exhaustion showed I needed new methods and tools to help me successfully adjust to my new reality.

Now, I have an even better appreciation for taking the time to recalibrate – proactively. To figure out what and where I need to say “no” soon after saying “yes.” And before I commence to working on the new/next initiative.

Now, I see recalibrating as a striver’s best back-pocket #hack! Because it helps you manage the stress, overwhelm and frustration that often comes with wanting, having and making room for more.

p.s. If you missed my last piece about the on-going tension between meeting the demands of today while preparing for tomorrow, click here to read it. Because this tension gets exasperated when you need to recalibrate.

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