Learning to say “No” is one the absolute hardest things I’ve ever tried to do. I suppose it’s because I’ve always been kind of a people-pleaser.
I like it when people are happy with me (don’t we all), and one the easiest ways I could think of the make sure this happened was by saying “Yes” to everything everyone asked me to do.
As I’ve gotten older and gained a new clarity on what I want to get out of life, I’ve learned that sometimes you NEED to say “No”.
Does that mean I’m perfect at knowing what to say “Yes” to and what to say “No” to? Absolutely not.
I still struggle with this in many areas of my life, like with my family and friends, at my full-time job, in the organizations I volunteer for, and even in my business. Granted I don’t usually want to say “No” to things in my freelance business because I love it so much, but in every other area of life I’ve got to say “No” a little more often.
About a month ago I was so stressed out from all of my time commitments that I scheduled a call with my client and business question go-to girl, Carrie.
On that call I told Carrie about the things I was struggling with, mainly having enough time to focus on my business as much as I wanted to, and then I asked her opinion about what I should do.
The absolute best thing that came out of that call with Carrie was learning that I need to be in control of how I spend my time and what I commit myself to doing.
This may not always be 100% possible. For example at my full-time job I have to do as instructed by my supervisor, but for almost everything else in life I have at least some say in what I do and how I spend my time.
Then Carrie told me about the power of saying “No” to what I don’t really want to do. Here’s a summary of how she explained it. (I wish I had recorded it so I could get it exactly right, but this is as close as I can remember.)
“By Saying ‘Yes’ to everything everyone asks you to do you are really saying ‘No’ to some of the most important things of all.”
How Saying “Yes” is Really Saying “No” to Yourself
When Carrie said that I was really confused. Wasn’t saying “Yes” to everything really just saying “Yes”? As it turns out, that’s not the case.
By saying “Yes” to working full-time at my day job, “Yes” to working part-time at my weekend job, “Yes” to working nearly full-time on my freelance business, and “Yes” to almost everything my friends and family invited me to do, I was really saying “No” to having time to myself, time for my health, and time for rest. I was also telling my family, friends, and my cute little pets that my jobs and business were more important to me than they were, and the very last item on my priority list was me.
After talking with Carrie, I decided to start making some changes to my life and my priority list. One of the first changes I made was to quit my part-time weekend job. There was another piece of Carrie advice that helped me reach this decision too, but I’ll save it for another day. 🙂
My last day at my part-time job was in mid-June and since then I’ve had so much more time to accomplish household tasks, time for my business, time to spend with family and friends, and time for myself on the weekends too. It’s amazing how much time I got back by quitting a 6-8 hour/week job.
I also decided to continue evaluating my feelings toward everything else in my life with the goal of cutting out everything I don’t really like by the end of the year.
I’m still not great at saying “No”. I’m just learning to say “No” a little more often to things I don’t really want to do.
Are you still learning to say “No” or are you a pro at it already?