Free Your Mind and Your Time – 7 Ways and Reasons To Say No

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Starting to say “no” to people was painful. But I was determined to break my addiction to yes. I resigned from my position on the board of a non profit I really cared about and enjoyed participating in. I “fired” several clients. I stopped going to parties and networking events. It was really hard. I felt like I was letting a lot of people down. They would ask “Why aren't you coming anymore? Did someone offend you?” “What happened to you?” I haven’t seen you around.”

I learned there are many ways to say no without offending, hurting or abandoning someone. Consider saying the following the next time you are struggling with whether or how to take on yet another responsibility or a task:

1"No, thank you."

This seems like a no brainer but it really is ok to just say no and leave it at that. You don't owe anyone an explanation or excuse for why you choose not to participate or take on a responsibility. Period.

2"I'm not available to commit to that right now."

If just saying no feels difficult, try something a little softer. Unavailability is a legitimate reason for declining to commit. Don’t feel like you owe anyone a favor. If you don't have the bandwidth or don’t feel like it, walk away.. 

3"That sounds amazing. May I think about it and get back to you?"

Today, I don’t say yes to something until I have carefully considered whether or not it is a good fit. Give yourself time to consider your options and then make your decision.

4“What's in it for me?”

It's not selfish to take care of yourself and if giving, giving, giving is affecting your relationships or mental and physical health, it's time to say no. Ask yourself how saying yes to this thing will benefit or hurt you.

5“Do I really want to do it?”

If it’s not something you really, really, really want to do, or have to do in order to get a result you truly want, say no.

6“Why am I doing this?

For me it was a combination of a desire to please people, be liked by everyone and the need to feel validated, respected and accomplished. When I let those things go, it got easier to be more selective about how I spent my time.

7“Someone else can do it.”

Believe it or not, you’re replaceable in most cases. That time I quit the board of the non profit? I felt so badly leaving everyone to soldier on without me. But, guess what? They found a replacement who took on the task as good as, or maybe even better, than I could have done it. Nobody died. The world kept spinning. And I learned to live without the validation I craved from those roles I couldn’t turn down.

Tags: Inspiration, Self Care, Communication, Mental Health

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Written By

Tanya Goodall Smith

Tanya Goodall Smith, founder of WorkStory Creative, helps micro businesses expand their influence with strategic visual storytelling. See Full Bio

CircleAround will make financial distributions to benefit current Girl Scouts: the next generation of trailblazers who will CircleAround after us. So CircleAround for inspiration, and CircleAround the leaders of tomorrow. CircleAround is owned by One GS Media, a subsidiary of Girl Scouts of the USA.

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