We can pause, prioritize what we both enjoy and are good at, create an ideal week, and delegate with strategy and intention but we will still be overwhelmed if we keep saying “yes” to everyone and everything. Sometimes, we may stay in the place of “pause” too long. We know the answer needs to be “no” but we wait thinking that maybe we will develop more courage or somehow miraculously find “extra” time. If we look at an opportunity and can immediately say, “no” this doesn’t fit right now, do not overthink it or create additional delays for the person asking. You (we) can do it! Join me this week as I provide three reasons that we need to be brave and say “no.”
Respect for the person asking.
A few weeks ago, a student asked me to be her mentor on a new opportunity. I was honored she asked and I really wanted to say yes. My first question was, “When do you need to know?” and she said it wasn’t due for a month so there was lots of time. When she first asked me, I knew my answer needed to be “no” because I do not have any bandwidth for anything new right now, but I didn’t want to let her down so I waited to let her know. Her email became buried underneath several other ones and I realized (maybe in the middle of the night?!) that I never responded to her. I found her email and finally responded with “no” but it left her with only a week left to find someone else. Thankfully, she had other options and appreciated my response, but I could have saved her the extra stress and deadline by being brave and honest with my “no” right away. Although we may be uncomfortable saying “no” to people we respect, appreciate and want to honor, if we wait to tell them “no” then we are actually disrespecting them. If you focus on the respect for the other person more than your discomfort in telling them no, you will be more empowered to practice that brave “no” which helps both you and the other person!
Honoring your existing priorities.
One of the best ways to respect those we have already said “yes” to is to bravely say “no” to those areas that will prevent us from being able to follow-through. We each have a limited amount of energy and we do not need to be ashamed or guilty for our current season. As I was sitting in church earlier this week, I realized that since my current season includes parenting my daughter, I am not able to care for everyone else who may also want my attention. Rather than feeling guilty about not being able to say “yes” to everyone else, I am embracing the opportunity to be a mom and grateful for the gift of my daughter. I also recognized that God cares for the other people in my life as well and He will take care of them and their needs. One of the best ways to honor our existing priorities, which often includes those closest to us, is to bravely practice “no” to areas that do not align with our current priorities. This concept also applies to other parts of our life. If we have committed our time or effort to a project, strategic plan or coalition task group, we have to say “no” to some of the wonderful new ideas, projects or people we may encounter so that we can follow-through with our current “yes.”
Giving other people opportunities.
If we always say “yes” to those who ask us to participate, present, discuss and connect, we may prevent others from experiencing opportunities. When we consider the opportunity as a chance for someone to learn, grow and expand her skills, experience and networks, our “no” is opening up possibilities for others and rhythm for ourselves. When someone asks you to do something, rather than immediately trying to figure out a way to say “yes,” consider other people who may be a good fit for the opportunity. If you can find someone else, you create a win-win situation. By considering another person, you provide an opportunity for that person and you prevent yourself from becoming overwhelmed again. Your “no” provides a “yes” for another person.
If this still seems like an impossible task, you may want to recruit help from others who can be your “no mentor” as I learned from Emily P. Freeman. These are people who know you well and can be completely honest with you! They can help you ask questions, reflect and practice bravery in your “no” so that you can say “yes” to what is right for you right now.