Stop Saying Yes When You Mean No (365 Days of Spirited Living – DAY 97)
(30 Things To Stop Spending Time On If You Want to Be Successful #6)
“Say no to everything, so you can say yes to the one thing.”
— Richie Norton
Regrets emerge when we refuse to balance yes and no. It is very important to know your limits and to set boundaries. Boundaries and limits are made to be obeyed, but they are also made to be tested. And people will often try to test them. When the person who has set the limits or established the boundaries in life, work, family, and almost any relationship, does not understand the power that limits and boundaries hold, that person will eventually get run over.
Human beings are like social animals. We long to interact with other people to the point of developing a distinct group or society with which we learn to bond. We want to feel as though we belong or are a part of something bigger than just us. We also like to feed our egos. Being that person who everyone comes to to fix things or solve problems often creates an attitude of importance and a false sense of worth. Within this context, people also long to please others. And when you aim to please others for the sake of being accepted, affirmed, or approved, you will be taken advantage of.
People often say yes to situations and people — even good ones — that they really ought to say no to. Why is it hard to say no? Because saying no can produce guilt and shame if you let it. Most people feel guilty because they really want to help others, or they fear that people will be upset with them, or they feel things will go undone without them being involved. Here is the thing: you can say yes so many times to so many things that after a while, you will be burned out and be unable to help anyone at all.
Your mind and your conscience — if you have an open ear to it — will tell you when you should say no. Sometimes you can’t stay a minute longer for drinks at the bar because you have made other plans. No matter what those plans are — even if it is to curl up in your bed and watch a movie — say no to the drinks and go do what you planned. Sometimes it is perfectly fine to tell a friend that you can’t help them especially when you know they are trying to get out of work because they have you as their trusty, hard-working friend to assist them. Henry Cloud said, “Our yes has no meaning if we never say no.”
It has been said that no is a complete sentence. It is. But we often forget that. When you learn to say no more, you will see more opportunities open up for which you should say yes to. Give yourself permission to say no without feeling guilty, shameful, mean, or selfish. If people know you are going to say yes all the time, they will always be within earshot to ask you to do something. You don’t have to explain yourself. You don’t have to give any explanations at all. Just say no and be content with your decisions.
Saying no means you know your limits, you know your boundaries, and you respect them, therefore, other people should respect them as well. When you have to say no, be nice, but be firm. This lets the other person know that you would if you could do what they’re asking, but you will not be pressured into doing so. Don’t leave your no out in the open. You know the kind of squishy, hee-haw, mee-maw, weak, unrealistic, I-might-change-my-mind no. Be clear — if no is no, it is just no — no excuses, no going back. There are only so many hours and minutes and seconds within a day. Set your priorities. If you have to give up something that is absolutely important to do something else, you really don’t have the time to do it.
Don’t misunderstand me: Saying no is not an excuse for not being willing to help, or not doing your best as a team member, or never taking on extra assignments to help someone out. I am not advocating for that at all. But it is your responsibility not to allow every single request that crosses your desk, phone, or email to get you off track with your main goals and objectives for the day or for your life. If you do, at the end of the day, you will only feel overwhelmed and frustrated.
Successful people know that if you take on too many requests, productivity will lag. You may get things done, but it won’t be done satisfactorily or timely. You are just one person. If people love you, they will learn to respect not just you as a person, but everything that involves you. If you value your limits, boundaries, energy, and time, you will learn to say no more often and say yes to the things and people that really matter.
“There are often many things we feel we should do that, in fact, we don’t really have to do. Getting to the point where we can tell the difference is a major milestone in the simplification process.”
— Elaine St. James