One of the biggest aspects of living a more intentional life is taking ownership of yourself. This means taking ownership of who you are, what you do, and how you spend your time.
When you allow others to dictate what you’ll do and when, you give up ownership of yourself.
It’s time to take your life back.
Learn to say no and then be ready to accept any consequences that may result.
You may be surprised when your life takes a positive shift in the right direction.
Everything costs something.
It may cost you money or time. It may even cost you precious time with your family.
What will saying yes cost you?
If you’re new to the “no” game, you’re bound to fumble here and there. Here are the most common mistakes when you’re caught between wanting to say no and not wanting to look bad.
Hesitation – When you give an opening, you offer time for the person asking to chip away at you more.
Excuses – Excuses seem to invite the person asking to offer an alternative since you didn’t exactly say no.
“I don’t know/Maybe” – Being vague will only encourage being asked again in the near future.
Delayed answer – The longer it takes to respond with your “no,” the harder it’s going to be. I’m not saying to answer with no the second the question leaves your friend’s mouth, just don’t wait until next month to pass.
Lying – This will get you into a whole mess of trouble. Better off by being concise instead of offering lies.
Elaborate Explanation – Going on and on about why you can’t doesn’t help anyone or soften your answer.
Why People Feel Bad About Saying No
Most people don’t want to be jerks.
We don’t want to cause issues, confrontation, or rifts.
We don’t want to be judged or disliked.
Buttercup… it’s time to get over that because saying no to someone does not make you a jerk. I mean, unless you come across that way on purpose.
It’s all about your approach. You can say no in a gracious and polite way.
Start With a Little Prep
Before you launch into this new lifestyle of being totally in control of yourself, your schedule, and really, your life, I want you to take a little time to consider a few things so that you can make the right decisions for you.
Consider what your focus is right now. Is it family? Work? Yourself? What are your priorities in this life?
“Focus is about saying no.” -Steve Jobs
Attempt to live each week aligned with your focus. Keep your priorities front and center in your life and mind.
Turn down anything detracting from that focus and anything that does not lead to the life you want for yourself or your family. It’s okay to say no for the sake of spending precious time with your family. It’s also okay to say no so you can veg out for a bit in order to be fresh and ready to face the rest of your week.
“The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say no to almost everything.” -Warren Buffett
Create boundaries ahead of time. This one is such a time saver and life saver. When you set up boundaries ahead of time, you have an answer ready to go when needed. The phrase, “as a rule,” will be your BFF on this step. Figure out what you don’t do or won’t do “as a rule,” such as lending money, drinking alcohol, or staying out too late when you need to work the next day.
How to Say No
Offer an explanation if you feel that it’s needed, but keep it short and sweet. People don’t need to know that you just need some time to take a hot bath sans children so you can veg out and scroll Facebook for an hour. You have plans (plans to take care of you), and that’s okay.
Use the word “no.”
It’s okay to soften it up every now and then, but stand firm in your decision. Especially when someone is making it clear that they don’t respect your answer.
If someone continues to badger you about something, be firm and simply respond with, “I said no.”
Respond in a timely manner
Please don’t be that person who just doesn’t respond because you want to avoid conflict.
It’s better to potentially hurt feelings a little bit by responding with a “no thanks,” than to hurt feeling a lot by ignoring the question or request.
(Psst… here’s a great article on phrasing your “no” so that feelings don’t get hurt!)
Trust your gut
Sometimes your mind is saying, “well… okay,” but your gut is shouting, “don’t do it!”
Listen to your gut.
It’s surprising how often our gut is right.
It’s easy to lose control over your week by saying yes to certain requests, especially if those requests are real time-eaters.
Know your limits and your capabilities. Don’t be afraid to regain control by saying something such as, “Sure, I can do that for you, but I won’t be able to get it done this week. How does next week sound?”
Have faith in the stability of your relationship
So I 100% have FOMO (fear of missing out), but my best way to combat it is by asking myself this question:
“What will I miss if I say no?”
If the answer is along the lines of losing a friend, you ought to reconsider that relationship.
Have faith that your relationships can stand up to hearing no every now and then.
Healthy relationships need to have that give and take – a healthy balance between yes and no.
If the relationship can’t bear to be turned down, it’s time to reconsider if it’s a healthy relationship or not. Be brave enough to do what’s best for you and remove toxic relationships from your life.
Consider offering an alternative
Grabbing lunch out with the kiddos and an old friend sound a little overwhelming to you today? Why not offer to let her to grab lunch and eat at your home instead?
Just because something may be a no for you right now doesn’t mean that the idea should be totally taken off the table every time.
Is there an alternative you could offer? Are you able to offer support in another way?
Saying no is uncomfortable.
Practice saying no until that little tiny word becomes familiar in your mouth.
Practice the different ways of saying no – No thanks. Not this time. I’m going to pass.
Make it a regular part of your communication style.
Let me repeat:
You don’t have to apologize when you say no.
It’s okay to take care of you and yours before taking on responsibilities and commitments from others.
Don’t break your back carrying the loads of others for fear of losing a friend.