A text just came in, it’s the PTA president asking you to make 100 cupcakes for the bake sale tomorrow, what’s your first response? “Sure, I’d be happy to.” Even though your brain is screaming “How the F&$K am I going to fit that in?”
Or it’s 4:30pm and your boss comes to you with a project she needs completed by 9am tomorrow. You have dinner plans with friends you’ve been planning to see for months and you know they can’t reschedule. What flies out of your mouth. “No problem. I’ll have it on your desk by 9.”
REALLY?!?! Couldn’t you just kick yourself?
Why are we so afraid to just say no? When did it become taboo to admit that you have to make choices with your time and what someone is asking of you may not fit? I’m so guilty of this and have had to do some serious soul searching.
One reason this has become so prevalent in today’s society is because we are afraid. Afraid of not being liked. Afraid of being left out. Afraid of being rude. Afraid of hurting another’s feelings. Afraid of being viewed as less then a team player and afraid of conflict.
Are those fears justified? Sometimes. But who are you living life for…if you are living life according to your goals and dreams then every choice you make must move you one step closer to accomplishing them. You cannot be led by fear.
Deciding to Say No
You must know your priorities and make decisions with your time based on them. When each request for your time or energy comes in here is a simple litmus test to run:
- Does this help me get closer to my goals or objectives? Answer this honestly, we may think things are moving us closer but they aren’t.
- Does this serve me and my loved ones or does it take away from them?
- Am I the best person to do this? No – then who is?
- If I say yes and fit this in, what else am I saying no to?
If the answer to the first three is yes, then accept the invite or request. If not then you need to politely decline. Unfortunately, this is where many people struggle.
No Is A Complete Sentence
The important thing to remember is that it’s your life. You do not have to justify your decisions or explain them to anyone (except maybe your spouse and occasionally your boss). When declining a request, don’t apologize – Just Say No.
By being firm in your response and not dancing around it, you will appear strong and confident. Over explaining can come off weak and open the door for the other party to rebut your decline and try to change your mind. Your decision is not up for negotiation – simply state it and move on.
Learning to say no to requests that don’t move you forward is an important first step in living a life by design. Remember this: If someone is upset that you declined, that is their problem, not yours. They will get over it, move on and you will have chalked up another small win in the battle of living according to others expectations.