Is it easy to say no to others? How about to yourself? Let’s be honest saying no can be hard to do. However, it can also be the thing that makes our lives so much more meaningful and enjoyable. Here are 5 things you should start saying no to.
Why It’s So Hard to Say No
It’s hard to say no. Even to things that we know we won’t enjoy or that will make us feel miserable every step of the way.
Why? Honestly, the answer to this probably varies from person to person. Some of us don’t know how to say no to certain people or opportunities. We feel a pressure to acquiesce – even when our gut and heart are shouting “NO!”. Some of us are people-pleasers. We want everyone around us to be happy – even if that means sacrificing some of our own happiness in the process. Some of us fear the consequences of saying no. We worry about offending people or letting people down or our “no” resulting in missed opportunities for things we want to say “yes” to.
It’s also hard to say no to the things we tell ourselves and the fears that we have.
Why? Because we spend our entire lives having those things ingrained in our self-conscious that they become seemingly a part of who we are. And to deny what we consider be truths about ourselves is often very difficult.
Why Saying No Is a Good Thing
However, saying yes out of or because of fear (which is honestly what all of these things break down to) is no way to live life. Not only because living based on decisions made out of fear sounds pretty miserable; but also because the more things you say yes to that you don’t really want to do, the less time, energy, and (sometimes) money you have left to say yes to the things you actually want to do.
So, let’s free up some of these invaluable, finite resources (I don’t know about you, but time, energy, and money are definitely not of infinite supply in my life) by identifying things you should start saying no to.
Say No These 5 Things Starting Today
Often, when we are embarking on something new, pesky little (okay, big) things called doubt can plant themselves in our minds. They tell us that maybe we can’t do this new thing. Or that we shouldn’t. Even if you were pretty confident that you could and should. Sometimes, we can even start to doubt our ability to do things that everyone around us has complete and utter faith that we can do.
Has this ever happened to you? You voice your doubts about something to a friend, family member, or colleague and they just seem perplexed about why in the world you, of all people, would worry about doing that thing that they believe you were meant to do. That, my friend, is a sign that your self-doubt is unfounded. Instead of giving in to those self-doubts, take another route. Look at the situation from an objective point of view. Look at your skill set, knowledge, and experience as though they were all possessed by someone else. Then look at the goal you are trying to accomplish. Now, ask yourself, would the person with those skill sets, knowledge, and experience be able to accomplish that goal. If the answer is yes, go for it!. If the answer is uncertain – don’t despair! Ask yourself what that person would need to learn or achieve to accomplish that goal. Then get out there and make it happen! But don’t let self-doubt be the thing that stops you.
Sometimes you have people in your corner rooting you on – encouraging you and supporting you in your goals. Other times, however, you have people who seem hell-bent on dissuading you, discouraging you, and even degrading you. What’s worse, though, is the well-meaning people in your life who are the naysayers. Those people are often the hardest to ignore because you care about what they say AND because part of you wonders if (since they know you so well) the things they say are right.
When faced with naysayers, I believe in taking everything with “a grain of salt”. Hear what they say. If it is just outrightly negative (as in it’s purely criticism that lacks a constructive component), categorize it as negativity and keep moving forward (Negativity? Ain’t nobody got time for that!) If you can look at something objectively, though, and can see some truth in what they are saying, ask yourself what you can do to improve. But, again, just say no to letting something negative put a stop to your forward progress. Use CONSTRUCTIVE criticism as a guide for growth.
Say No to Negative Self-Talk
Speaking of negativity, one thing you absolutely should give up right now is negative self-talk. It serves zero purpose. Stop it. Seriously. Instead of wallowing in past mistakes, failures, regrets, and lack, focus on lessons learned, your potential, your goals, your action plan, and all of the skills, knowledge, and experience you possess. It’s one thing to acknowledge that you have space for growth. It’s another thing altogether to fool yourself into thinking that you have nothing to offer.
In fact, sit down one day and write down your life resume. I’m not talking about just jobs you’ve had. I mean, write down every single skill and positive trait you possess that makes you a force to be reckoned with. All of the things people come to you for help with. The skills and traits people compliment you on. The things that come naturally to you that other people struggle with. You DO have a lot to offer – take some time to recognize that. If you are in a mindset where doing this is difficult, ask people who know you well what they think you are good at. You might be surprised by their response. Ask them what makes you a good friend, child, sibling, mother, wife, coworker, employee, etc. Whenever you catch yourself engaging in self-talk, remind yourself of these things.
Putting Your Dreams On Hold
When you ask people who are on their deathbeds about what they regret most in life, it’s not things like “that terrible haircut I got my freshman year in college”. It’s not even things like “spending so much money on dumb things”. The things they usually regret involve loved ones and important goals. They regret the things they didn’t do – including not chasing their dreams.
It can be so easy to tell ourselves that it’s not the right time. That we should wait for the stars and planets to align. That we should wait until we know more. Until we have more money. Until we have more time. But, in reality, the stars may never align. The timing may never be perfect. And time…well, we all know that we never have quite enough of that.
However, just because the timing isn’t perfect or you don’t know everything or you don’t have all the time you wish you had doesn’t mean that you can’t start. Sometimes you just have to jump in and do it. Figure it out along the way. Use the resources you DO have to do what you can. Any progress is better than no progress. Imagine where would we all be right now if we’d started taking little steps toward our goals a year ago – even if the timing wasn’t perfect. I daresay that many of us would be further along than we had ever imagined. So hold that possibility in your mind. The possibility of making real progress in just one year- just from doing what little you can NOW. Then go get started! Say no to procrastinating on your dreams and yes to taking action.
We are taught (often from a young age) that we should be willing to compromise. The ability to compromise makes you more likable and easier to get along with. It improves your interpersonal relationships – both personally and professionally.
All of that may be true. But do you know what compromise can also lead to? Regret. Resentment. Frustration. Those aren’t things we should aim for, right?
Usually, when you’re making a compromise (especially on the big things), what you are really doing is making a sacrifice. Sometimes it’s not a big deal. Making the compromise to eat at one restaurant over another is a minor thing. However, for the big decisions, making a compromise is a slippery slope towards a jagged edge. It often stems from our desire to make other people happy. Or the fear of being seen as difficult or high maintenance (this is often true for women). Sometimes it can be the result of believing that if we compromise NOW, we will get what we want LATER.
Again, sometimes compromise is not a bad or big thing. But I do believe that there are two things you should NEVER compromise- your morals and major life decisions. And never ever ever compromise something important if you know deep down (or even right there on the surface) that what you’re hoping for is that the person will change their mind. Assume that they won’t and think about how that will make you feel. It’s better to refuse to negotiate than it is to negotiate and get the short, bitter end of the stick.