What I’ve Learnt in 2017: I Don’t Have To

Cambridge Pembrooke

2017 was the year that I grew some ovaries. I changed a number of the things I did in the workplace and also in life, to make me less of a pushover and to make my life easier.

One of the biggest things I changed this year is that I realised when I didn’t have to bend over backwards all the time. I read The Glass Wall, and realised that we women often take on far too much just because we feel that we have to make others happy.

But here’s the thing, you don’t have to.

I realise that all too often I put people before myself, making myself sad. #TreatYoself isn’t just an excuse to eat pizza in the bath, it should be about making decisions in life that make YOU happier. Make YOUR life easier.

Here are some of the things I have stopped doing, because I don’t have to:

Take on that extra task. I would like to help, but actually I have all these things I need to do, so I am going to have to push back. Or, I could do this next week once these things have finished. I have stopped taking on extra things because no one gives out extra gold stars for extra work, I just get to spend less time on the things I need to do. I know my limits, I know my workload.

Answer emails right away. The moment I realised I could just stick a red flag in it and go back to it later, was the best moment ever. If you answer emails as they come along, you get distracted from your task and spend your whole day answering emails. Now I section off time in the day to answer emails in bulk.

Engage in that argument. Richard, one of my best and oldest friends, always tells me that the second you engage in an argument on the internet, you have lost. But there’s always that feeling of needing to stand your ground, to give your side. In 2017 I started taking Richard’s advice and stopped replying to people looking for an argument. Recently, I posted one of my posts on a closed local Facebook group, and someone left a message disagreeing with something I’d said. I could see things from her point of view but I disagreed still. There was no obligation at all for me to reply to her, so I didn’t. I didn’t want to waste time engaging in an argument with her. So I didn’t. Simple.

Back down. People will always challenge you, and there’s always a balance between picking your battles and not being a doormat. I’ve stood my ground a couple of time with key people this year and it’s helped greatly with relationships. When I make a polite request (like “please can you move your car, you’re blocking me in”) and it looks like it’s going to turn into an argument instead of a solution, I simply say “I’m not getting into an argument with you about it”. It’s worked so many times – so much so, I was hesitant to put it on the blog. But that simple phrase works perfectly when something needs to be done and you don’t want the hassle of debating the issue.

All too many times I’ve been branded as a weak, “nice” person, which makes people expect more from me. Working harder isn’t always the key, it’s working smarter. Say no to things, manage expectations, and do the things you do, well.

I’d love to know what kinds of things you do like this! Sharing tips can help us all be stronger, more successful people in 2018!



  1. Don`t have to `Engage in that argument` is definitely something that I learnt this year as well, especially at work. Even when people are casually laying into something that I feel strongly about, I now just try to zone out and ignore them rather than initiating an office-wide debate on the subject. I`’ve also learnt that I don`t have to make a special effort to get along with people who I know don`t really like me – being quiet and polite without going out of my way works wonders in my experience.

    • I think I’m one step behind you on the second one – I still care very deeply when I know people don’t like me. From people at work, to people in my social circle, I just want to run away and avoid people if I suspect they’re not Team Charlotte.

    • I’ve had similiar shifts in the past year about arguments- I don’t remember where I first read this, but I made it my instruction. manual: Any time I feel like I’m about to get into it with someone, I ask myself: “Does this need to be said? Does it need to be said right now? Does it need to be said *by me?*”

      If the answer to any of those three is no (and it almost always is,) then I step away from the entire argument. I have started to type responses to things on Facebook many, many times and then deleted the comment and moved on after I realized there was zero to be gained from making said comment.

      Sometimes it’s difficult to step away, though. I have recently realized that I am extremely prideful when my truthfulness is questioned. Makes my blood boil. This happened to me yesterday, and I wound up venting all over the messenger rather than the source of the comment. This sort of thing can lead to a big drama fest all too easily, and it took me some time to step back off the ledge there.
      Steven recently posted…So long, 2017. Hello, 2018!My Profile

  2. I love the lessons in this post. I think a lot of people, and like you said, women in particular, could learn from placing a higher value on their time and contributions. I think we each need to measure success on our own terms so that we’re not looking to someone else for affirmation.
    Lynn recently posted…A Walking Tour of Notting Hill: London’s Most Picturesque NeighborhoodMy Profile

    • Charlotte says:

      Absolutely, and I think that’s something I need to be more mindful of, not looking for external affirmation. We’re all works of art improving ourselves.

  3. This is one of best articles I read recently 🙂 It’s a great reminder. I also learned to not reply emails straight away last year when worked took too much out of life.
    Kal recently posted…The World Culture Postcards ProjectMy Profile

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