Overworked, overstressed, overtired, overloaded, overbooked, over it!
If any of these words describe you, you are not alone! Many of us rely on our phones, devices, coffee, and quick meals in the car to get through most days. With summer around the corner and school finishing up, we sometimes don’t know whether we are coming or going. When deadlines, activities, and parties seem to overtake your life, you may need to learn to say “no”. They are two simple little letters, but when put together in a word, saying “no” can transform your life.
Why say no?
1. It allows you to say “yes” to something else. When you are asked to host your friends’ next book club, ask yourself if you truly have the time and space in your life for something new. This is time away from family, work, kids and friends. It might work in your life right now, and it might not. Think of saying no to that activity as saying “yes” to bettering other relationships that need your focus. Before saying yes to an activity, really think if there is a better yes that needs your attention.
2. You will honor and respect both the invitee and yourself. Many times we say yes to a dozen parties and events in a single day because we don’t want to disappoint anyone. We are then able to pop in to only a few of those activities for 10 minutes, and miss the others entirely because we overbooked. You will honor your friends and peers more if you pick a few activities that are really important and plan to “be” there – fully present, engaged and content.
3. It opens you up to new possibilities. Many years ago my family decided that for Christmas we would eliminate most of the gift giving. Being together with the traditions of the season was more important than the stress of picking out the perfect presents, which none of us needed anyway. We said “no” to a tradition we had always loved because we realized it was best in our lives at the time. When we did this, we found that we all were much more careful and thoughtful in the few gifts we chose. Everything was more meaningful, and the day wasn’t centered only around ripping open wrapping paper. We all loved the new tradition and are happy to continue it! Sometimes a “no” only allows you to say “yes” to something greater.
How do you say no?
1. Honestly, politely and assertively. You do not need to be aggressive or defensive, and you do not need to feel guilty. A simple “no” can be sufficient, but if you feel you need to give a reason, be honest and don’t make up an excuse. If you are feeling nervous or on the fence, don’t be afraid to ask for more time. “Thank you so much for thinking of me! I have some other activities that week, so let me look at my calendar. Can I get back to you?”
2. With your own invitation. If you are feeling bad about saying no to an invite, or really would like to say yes and can’t, give one back. Say, “Thank you so much but I can’t make it to dinner tonight. I would love to see you though! I’m going for a walk tomorrow afternoon, would you like to join me?” You might get a no in response, but the other person will appreciate the effort.
Saying no has gotten a bad reputation in our society. We feel we need to say yes to please everyone and be a good friend, a good parent or a good employee. You are a good friend, a good parent and a good employee because of who you are, not how full your calendar is. By developing a habit of being conscious about what you commit to and giving those things the attention they deserve, you will honor what is important in your life. And remember, there will always be another party to attend!