The world is full of “yes” people. Those of us who always agree, regardless of what it means for ourselves (and sometimes the other person).
Are you a “yes” person?
- Are you spread so thinly that you can’t focus on your goals?
- Do you agree to activities you later dread?
- Do you take on more responsibilities than you can balance?
- Do you consistently put the wants of others in front of the needs of yourself?
I know I do!
If you’re anything like me, you hardly even understand what the word “no” means, let alone have the ability to force it out of your mouth.
Currently I hold a full-time job, I’m part-time web development consultant, I run an Instagram account featuring handmade shops, I drive 6 hours to visit family every-other weekend, I’m an AdvoCare advisor, I run a small Etsy shop, I’m trying to grow as a Christian, I have a wonderful husband who needs attention, I have a home that desperately needs to be cleaned, I have friends I never see, and on top of all that I’m trying to get my little business off of the ground so that I can someday leave the 9-5 and only work on projects that I love.
Um, yeah. Not gonna happen if I don’t learn to say “no”!
Let’s go on a journey together. A journey to add a little 2-letter word to our vocabulary. Hint: It starts with ‘n’ and ends with ‘o’.
What Will This Mean For Us?
- We’ll get to the activities most important to us.
- We’ll accomplish what we want to, feeling the extra weight lift off our shoulders as we do so.
- We’ll be able to focus on the things most important to us, leading to happier lives for ourselves and those around us.
- We’ll be able to reach our goals in a more timely way, rather than focusing on the goals of others
So where do we start?
I’ve been working on this “little” problem for a few weeks now, and here’s what seems to be working for me. Slowly, but surely.
1. Decide To Start Saying “No”
The first step in learning to say “no” is deciding that you’re going to do it.
So right now, stop reading for a few seconds and make a commitment to only agree to things that fit at least two of the following requirements:
- You truly want to do it
- It will help you reach your goals
- You’re the only person capable of completing the activity (if it’s something you don’t want to do)
- You have time
- It is important to you
- It won’t take focus away from your priorities
2. Determine Your Priorities
Now that we’ve committed to saying “no”, we need to decide what we’re going to consider saying “yes” to.
Take a minute to fill out the worksheet below. List out all of your current activities and priorities. Rank them in order of importance. Which range of numbers will you almost always say “yes” to, which ones will you consider, and which ones are almost always going to get a “no”?
3. Stop Volunteering
You know when you’re talking to a friend and they start complaining about something they really need done, but just don’t have time for?
Yeah, stop volunteering for those things!
I’m guilty of it all the time.
My heart starts racing, I dread that they’ll agree to let me do it, but I say “Oh, do you want some help with that?” because I feel like I have to.
If we don’t volunteer we’re horrible friends, awful people, and completely selfish, right?
No more volunteering for things you don’t want to do. When you’re in a situation where you could volunteer, instead show some sympathy and keep the conversation moving. If the person you’re talking to really needs help they’ll ask for it and then you can rank it according to the priorities you’ve defined above.
4. Think Before You Respond
The next time someone asks you to do something, stop and think before responding.
Whether they want to go to a movie, need help with just “one little thing” for their business, or are looking for a babysitter – give yourself some time to think.
Judging from the fact that you’re still reading, rushing your answer will likely lead you to saying “yes”. If you’re on the phone ask if you can call them back. If you’re together in person, let them know that you’ll shoot them a text after you can get home and check your schedule. Whatever you do, give yourself some time to think.
And again, refer back to your list of priorities and see what things this activity would push out and what goals it could inhibit. Then decide if you really want to agree or if you just feel like you have to.
5. Say “No” Without An Excuse
When you decide an activity doesn’t fit in with your goals and the situation doesn’t mean success or failure for someone else, just say “no”.
Don’t make a long list of excuses. Don’t apologize. Don’t feel guilty afterward.
Just say no, move on, and celebrate the fact that you can now focus on the things that are most important to you! Check some things off of your small business’s to do list, spend some time with family, or maybe even relax! (Relax? What’s that?!)
If you must, you can always provide someone an alternative. “No, I’m going to have a night in, but I know Ashley is looking for something to do tonight!” Or maybe, “I can’t help you, but if you did it this way I bet it would only take you half the time!”
I Know It’s Not Easy
Trust me, I’m not saying this is easy and that you’ll instantly feel better about saying no. You’ll probably feel like you let someone down. You’ll worry that you may have missed an opportunity. You might feel a little selfish.
But think about what it means for you. More time to reach your goals. More time to spend with the most important people in your life. Decreased stress. All you need to do is put yourself first.
And hey, sometimes saying “yes” will let someone down more than saying “no” would have!