Leap Year Lesson #5: Learn to Say “No”

Posted: January 5, 2012 in Work-Life Balance
Tags: , , ,

Learn To Say NoPerhaps you’ve heard a statement such as “If you want something done, give it to someone who is busy.” The idea is that people who take on much are the most likely candidates to successfully take on more. They show drive, a strong work ethic and the ability to plan and execute. They may say “yes” because they genuinely want to help, or maybe they know they will feel guilty if they say “no”. Some people don’t know how to say “no” and they’d rather be miserable taking on more responsibility than miserable feeling guilty.

While it might work to find busy people willing to take on more, it is not fun always being on the receiving end of those tasks. Our bodies and minds were not meant to go nonstop all the time. We must have down time. Our bodies know that and demand sleep. Convincing our minds is another matter.

We know what commitments we already have, including those that rarely seem to get done in a timely manner. We most likely have a voice inside that gives an intuitive thumbs up or thumbs down when asked to do more. Some find it easy to say “no.” I envy them.

Fortunately, saying “no” seems a little easier the older I get. For example, I was recently asked to help teach a group early on Saturday mornings. It was a short-term commitment and wouldn’t have killed me to say “yes” for a few weeks. But I work long, late hours nearly every night and Saturdays are the only days I can rest until the body says “enough” (or at least until the dog says “enough”). So I declined. When pressed for a future commitment, I did not commit. I still felt guilty, but I know it was the right answer.

A problem with always saying “yes” is that your life becomes so cluttered with activity that you risk never doing what is most important. You end up opting for what cries the loudest for attention. We need more balance than that.

So leap year lesson #5 is learn to say “no.” Be kind, but firm. Don’t let other people’s agendas derail you from yours.

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