I used to have a hard time saying “no.” I was a people-pleaser, and I hated feeling like I let someone down. Add to it the pressure society puts on women and mothers and turning down projects or responsibilities never happened.
I ran myself so ragged that I actually had a dream about sleeping. No joke.
Clearly, something needed to change.
So, I started saying “no.”
Here are 10 things I got from it:
#1 | More Time
Time is a non-renewable resource. Yet, we pass it along to everyone and everything that asks for it like we’ll never run out. PFO, work projects, out-of-town guests: they all get it.
Now, many of these things we want to do. We joyfully do.
And many, we do not.
When I started saying “no” to people and things, my time grew. Yes, I am still busy, but I’m not running around frantic. I have more time to do the things I want to do. I’m not always looking at my watch, evaluating how much longer until the next thing.
And, because I’m no longer pulling double- or triple-duty on projects, I have more time to sleep. That by itself is a huge win.
#2 | More Contentment
The opposite of contentment is resentment. When you’re constantly doing for other people without doing for yourself, that is what it breeds. That feeling of knowing you’d rather be elsewhere. Or, why does this person get my time when my family doesn’t?
So, when I started saying “no,” I found myself caring less about how other people were spending their time. I wasn’t time-envious. I was happier doing what I was doing.
My contentment poured into other areas of my life. My family and friends got the better parts of me, not just what was left.
#3 | More Focus
The phrase “keeping all the balls in the air” has its place. But when there are so many balls, it’s no longer a juggling act. You’re not looking at anything holistically. You’re just trying not to drop anything.
Instead, when I started saying “no,” I was again able to actually see the thing in front of me. I was able to give it my full attention and the full strength of my abilities.
The quality of my work and productivity improved. It wasn’t as though I was failing before… but I now was thriving.
#4 | More Calm
That frantic, one-step-behind feeling from doing too much? That goes away with saying “no” too. Almost immediately.
When I said “no” to extra projects, it felt good.
I was able to breathe.
Just knowing there is one fewer thing on your to-do list allows peace and calm to come in.
When you step out of the “rat race,” then the rules don’t apply to you and the results don’t matter.
You win. Done.
#5 | More Control
This one may seem obvious, but really, how much control do you feel you have over your day. And the thing is, you agreed to all of it. You accepted the job, signed the kids up for the activities, or agreed with your partner to start the next project.
All at the expense of something else. Remember, even doing the things you love costs something. It’s just, is the return on investment good enough to warrant that cost?
Only you get to decide. And that’s the control. You determine what is worth you spending something else.
#6 | More Passion
When your day is filled with things you don’t want to do, but feel obligated to do, it can be soul-sucking. Even when you’re committed to doing your best work, providing value to your clients or employer or family, your passion gets chipped away.
When you say “no” and begin to recognize that you get to choose what fills your day, you give room to the things that spark you, turn you on, give you your reason for being.
When you’re working in your passion, it is energizing. It is inspiring.
That’s what you were put here for anyway.
#7 | More Respect
This one surprised me. As women, we are socially conditioned to rank our value through the acceptance and approval of the people around us (right or wrong, that’s just how it is right now).
So, most women struggle with saying “no” because we want people to like and accept us.
The thing is, it actually works the opposite way. When we always say, “yes” we become less valuable.
When we show we value ourselves by saying “no,” we immediately increase our value to others because we reflect that self-value.
#8 | More Authenticity
No one wants to do all the things put in front of them. And while we may agree to do many because it serves the greater good, we don’t have to do all of them.
When I said “ no,” I allowed myself to be recognized as having likes and dislikes, interests, passions, and non-starters. I had personality. Or rather, I allowed my personality to be seen.
And when we embrace our personality, when we live authentically, it opens us up to give our talents to the world. We weren’t born to be stifled. We were born to be us.
#9 | More Generosity
If you have no time for yourself, then you really have no time for others.
Saying “no” freed me from scarcity. Now, when I give my time, I give it with generosity.
You know its value. You know you can’t get it back. And that’s ok. You want to give it.
It stems from openness and wanting to connect. Not out of fear of rejection and hopelessness.
#10 | More Love
Yes, I saved the best for last.
When I learned to say “no” to people and things, I learned to say “yes” with love.
You honor your choices as something you want. You put love into enacting those choices.
Love is a powerful force. When you act in love, it gives meaning and contentment and joy to your life.
Even when things don’t go as planned, if you’re acting in love, choosing your time commitments out of love, you create more love.
And that’s something everyone could use more of right now.