It's never too late to say no

A few months ago I was asked to take on a new volunteer position. It felt good to be reached out to, but I was pretty clear I didn't want to do it. So I said no thanks.

However, the person doing the outreach was persistent. She explained how it would be perfect for me, that it was a wonderful group, how I could make meaningful contributions, and that it wouldn't be as much work as I feared. Plus, they really wanted me!

I caved.

How bad could it be? It really wasn't a huge commitment, and I didn't want to disappoint the group, I told myself. But it was absolutely the wrong choice.

In general, I know myself to be a positive, engaged, and creative person, but I could muster none of those things with this group. At meetings, I was distracted, critical, and unhelpful, and it was nearly impossible to motivate myself to do the things I said I would do.

All of this felt terrible to me, and I imagine it didn't feel good to anyone else, either. So earlier this week I swallowed my embarrassment, called the leader, and resigned. I think it was a relief to both of us.

Not very long ago, I would have scoffed at this choice. A commitment is a commitment, I would have said, and would have worked hard to adjust my attitude and accommodate the situation. Slogging through and making the best of it would have earned me a badge of honor in my own eyes: evidence of my commitment to learning and growth.

Now, though, that seems silly. There are a million paths to learning and growth, and they do not require unnecessary suffering. I'd even argue that unnecessary suffering is a distraction from that learning.

I guess it would be one thing if I were miserable in everything I did -- that'd be a great reason to take a look at my mindset more globally -- but that wasn't the case here at all. At this point, there are so many things I'm doing that excite and motivate me that when something doesn't, it really stands out, and is important to pay attention to. 

I feel like there are so many lessons to gain from this relatively short experience: trusting my gut, being willing to disappoint people, honoring other people's "no", having the courage to change my mind, and recognizing that saying yes when I really want to say no isn't kind to anyone.

What are your takeaways, either from this or from similar experiences in your own life? Comments always welcome!