How many times do you say “Yes” when you’d really rather say “No” or maybe “I don’t know, let me think about it and get back to you?” Are you the first one with your hand up when the call goes out for a new PTO President, for someone to run the office basketball pool, coach the soccer team, organize the fundraiser or run for the Board of Education? These are just a few of the many, many ways that we are asked to serve in our families, places of employment and communities.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t do these things; quite the opposite. They are all necessary, important and potentially fulfilling opportunities to use our time and talents to make a difference, to give back and, hopefully, have some fun in the process. It just may be possible that you don’t have to be the one to do them all!
There are a few simple steps that will help you get better at saying no to what no longer serves you, and saying yes to those things that will assist you to create a life of greater joy and authenticity.
Become Aware of Your Motivation
If you are constantly saying “yes” to other people and their agendas, then you are potentially saying “no” to yourself. Be honest with yourself. How much time do you spend on projects and activities that you really don't want to do simply because you are uncomfortable saying no? Do you volunteer out of a sense of obligation and (yes, you can say it) guilt rather from a place of passion and excitement? Are you driven, perhaps, by a need to take charge, look good or gain the approval of other people? If so, you might find yourself feeling drained or resentful rather than invigorated and energized by what you’re doing. Getting clear about why you are saying “yes” is a critical first step towards creating the life of your dreams.
Take Time to Think
Have there been times that you’ve agreed to do something and then wished you hadn’t almost before the words were out of your mouth? Take a few moments to think about the times when you’ve said “yes” too quickly. Did you feel pressured to respond right then, feel as though you’d let someone down if you said “no”, let yourself believe that you were the only one who could do it right? When you better understand why you say “yes” when you’d rather say “no”, you begin to have more control over your responses.
Self awareness is perhaps the most important factor in being able to assert your needs, which includes saying “no” to things that do not align with your priorities in that moment. The next time someone makes a request of your time, talent or treasure take whatever time you need to consider the request and see how it fits in with your life. You have every right to say “thanks for asking, but this isn’t right for me right now”. We all have to make the choices that are best for us. If someone gets upset with us for saying “no”... well, that’s a choice they make for themselves.