Learn How to Say No

So often in our society we unwillingly accept more responsibility, more possessions and more obligations. At our jobs we continually volunteer for more responsibility in hopes that it will lead to more visibility or a faster promotion. We may feel that the more expensive things we accumulate the better we will look to others.

To gain a sense of inclusion and involvement, we participant in more social groups, sports teams and professional training than our calendars can handle. I say enough is enough.

We should start to say no. "No" to having more duties at work when we don’t have additional capacity. "No" to continuing to collect needless possessions when we have more than enough already. "No" to planned events every night of the week just to stay busy. Life can be hectic and stressful enough already with what is currently going on in our lives, there has to be a good reason to add to it.

In So Many Words

It is not easy to say no in a culture full of yes. Other people may initially feel put off by you saying no, so an explanation is sometimes needed. Saying that you just don’t have the time for something is the simple way out and doesn’t get to the real reason you are saying no.

You are saying no to simplify your life, have less commitments and to increase the focus you can have towards what is most important to you. What you would say would depend on what the specific situation requires, but phrasing your responses correctly can ease the harshness of your refusal to do something. Try to focus on the positive of what saying no can allow you do instead of the negative.

Start by saying “Thank you for the offer, but…”:

  • I am working to increase the quality of my current work statement.
  • I am applying the 80/20 Rule to achieve more focused results.
  • I am on a mission to simplify and improve my existing processes.
  • I am focusing on spending more time on what interests me most.
  • I don’t have the capacity in my schedule for that right now.

What to Say No To

There are all sorts of things to decline your commitment to. You can start to say no at work, at home and to friends. I’m not advocating that you eliminate everything you do or obligations that you enjoy. I just think you should simplify your calendar and focus on certain areas a bit. Here are some examples of what you can say no to.

  • Additional responsibilities at work when you are already working overtime.
  • A job offer that isn’t for what you really want to be doing.
  • Social events that keep you from spending time with your family.
  • Friends that are a bad influence on your life.
  • Outings with friends that you can’t afford to go on.
  • Unnecessary arguing with your family or spouse.

When you begin to say no to more things in your life you will begin to have more time in the day for yourself and others. With this added time you can now do what you always wish you had time for; exercise, reading or any other hobby. Once I started saying no and created more time for myself to focus on what is most important to me I was much happier, had less stress and increased my productivity.

Why not vow to yourself that you will say no at least once a day? It will get easier the more you do it and allow you to have more time in your day to do what you love.

(A great resource for learning how to say no to more commitments is the free eBook Focus from Leo Babauta. I highly recommend reading it if you want to have less stress in your professional and personal life.)

Who do you have trouble saying no to? Your boss? Your family? Your friends? Let me know in the comments below why it is so hard and how you are going to say no to something today.