Your days are full with too many things you probably don’t really want to do.
It’s overwhelming and you know at the end of the day there’s still going to be a long list for tomorrow. So, you start over the next day. Like a rat on a treadmill.
I get it.
What if I told you there’s a way to have more time in your day for you? It involves using a tiny two-letter word: “No.”
I’ve spent a lifetime getting to know this word and the art of using it.
When you’re raised with the idea that it’s not nice to say no or that people won’t like you if you say no, well, you have a steep learning curve.
I learned the hard way. I said yes to everyone and everything and there were times when I felt resentful and frustrated in not getting everything done. I was in the world of being overscheduled and burnout.
It’s not fun.
When you’re spinning in a circle of too much and too many things you say yes to, it’s a big problem. It took a while, but I realized that when I say yes to things I don’t really love, I’m saying no to myself.
If you’re in that vortex of too much, I want you to really get the high cost of not saying yes to yourself and no to others:
I remember when my kids were in junior high and I was working full time in an intense children’s clinic plus starting my private practice. I could hardly keep up with all the roles. I was insane with too much to do and, quite frankly, out of control.
I was seeing new clients in private practice on Saturdays and Sundays because I thought having that much availability would increase my private practice. It didn’t take a genius to figure out that it wasn’t sustainable for long! I was always tired and I had hardly any time for my family.
So, I started saying no to working on weekends. New clients would ask me if I could see them on Saturdays. And I would say in my steadiest voice, “I don’t see clients on the weekends.”
The first time I said it, I held my breath, thinking: They’ll just say okay, never mind, that won’t work for me, and go somewhere else.
But guess what happened? The client said, “Okay, well when are you available?”
So, I began saying no, and offering the times that were best for me and my family. And…voila! Every time, they would say, “Okay, I’ll take it.”
Not only did I learn the lesson of setting up policies for myself ahead of time (like no weekends), but also that when you’re certain about your policy, people don’t mess with you. They just say okay.
Here’s the scoop on the things that happen when we say no:
You get more time for yourself.
When you say no, especially to things you don’t want to do, you create more space for what delights and feeds you. And we all know how good that feels.
Let’s face it. We can’t do everything…there are only so many hours in the day. When we say no, we’re saying yes to ourselves and yes to freedom for more happiness.
For me, this was a hard pill to swallow. Because I wanted to do it all—see clients, help people, have fun time with friends, and spend quality time with family. I longed for time for myself to journal, to take dance classes, and to read a book, because those are the things that make me really happy.
But when I was saying yes to all the things I thought I had to do (like doing things for my children that they could do for themselves, for example) or when I was being asked to work longer hours, there was little time left over for me.
At some point, I realized I was snapping at everyone, and feeling resentful and overwhelmed. I was even jumping up to put a load of clothes in the washing machine while playing a board game with my sons and my husband. They would get so frustrated with me. I was like a machine that couldn’t be turned off.
You have more energy.
Rather than giving your energy to something you don’t really love, think of how much more energy you would have for you, your family, and your friends.
And what about that thing that you love to do that you never get to do—unscheduled time to just enjoy your life, going for a walk, spending more time with your kids, grandkids, and the people you love.
Now, we’re talking more energy for you.
When I do the things that bring me joy, like riding my bike, working in my garden, and standing on my head in some exotic place, I’m a happy, happy girl.
I feel energized, on fire, creative…the ideas just come rolling in. It’s like a magic elixir when I choose to do the things I love. And this pretty much involves saying no to something else and to others.
There’s more freedom to just be ourselves.
Freedom can come to us when we listen to our gut and just say no. That tiny little word has such impact—on our lives, our minds, and our well-being.
If we’re always saying yes to the things that don’t please us, we can feel trapped, obligated, and helpless. And we become resentful. Then no one wants to be around us. This can feel like being in prison, like we’re victims.
When we have more time, time feels expansive and we get to actually explore what we want now and what our life is telling us.
So, who wouldn’t want these things in their lives? And how do we begin to say no? No worries, I’ve got three tips to start you off.
Three things you can do right now to start saying no:
Take your time.
Don’t feel you have to give an answer right away if someone asks you to do something. Give yourself time to think of a response rather than an automatic yes that comes out of your mouth before you know it.
Try saying, “Let me get back to you.” Then, spend some time with yourself to see if you really want to do it.
Have a policy and stick to it.
If you have a policy for yourself, you don’t have to think about it. Decide on your bottom line.
Examples: I don’t work on Fridays. Or, I only give this much money to…
If I’m stressed, I take my time to say yes to whatever opportunities I’m presented with or things I’m asked to do.
Ask yourself these questions before you say yes:
>> If I say yes, is it going to drain me or give me energy?
>> Will saying yes give me enough time to do what I want to do?
>> Will I have enough time to complete other commitments or projects if I say yes?
If you want more time for yourself, more freedom, and more pizazz in your life, you have to be able to say no. And you can start today saying yes to what you do want and no to what you don’t.
Part of your well-being is being able to focus on yourself so you can be your best for others, whether it be your family, friends, work colleagues, patients, or customers.
We don’t do anyone any favors if we’re burned out, resentful, and not happy.
In life, we don’t know what’s around the corner. Especially now with the global pandemic, we are faced with the unknown and uncertainty daily.
Don’t waste this precious time. Learn to say no.