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How to Empower Yourself to Say “No”

Overwhelmed.  Buried under deadlines, invites, and multiple to-do’s.  It can be tough to deal with things coming from multiple directions, especially if you are a people pleaser or overachiever.  Figuring out how to get through everything n the daily to-do list seems like a juggling act at times.

Often, when this happens, we focus on others and their needs and expectations.  We want to be there for them. Heaven forbid we disappoint someone, but guess what?  When you take on more than you can/want to handle you do disappoint someone – you.  We get stressed or frazzled by all the things that need to get done. 

But guess what?  It is perfectly fine to say no to things that do not serve you.  Especially, if they take time away from the things that do. 

Here are three tips to empower yourself and say “no”:

1

Celebrate saying no.  Be proud of it.  Remember that saying no is not bad, nor does it make you a bad person.  In fact, saying no can bring about what some may call positive traits.  It can make you calmer, since you won’t have to scramble to finish a two-page to-do list by the end of the day; it can turn you into a more productive person since you will have more time to finish the things you truly need to get done; and chances are it can lower your stress levels, yielding a happier you.  Keep in mind, the less things you commit yourself to, the more energy and passion you can put into the things you are saying yes to.  By having only five things to focus on instead of ten, more time and energy can be dedicated to those five projects.  As a result, you can be more present when you meet with friends for lunch because you aren’t thinking about the multiple work deadlines you have to rush back to the office to complete, or perhaps you will find yourself sleeping more because you got home at a reasonable hour rather than going to a happy hour you didn’t want to go to attend in the first place.

2

Work that “no” muscle.  Similar to any other muscle in the body, working the “no” muscle will strengthen it.  Start off small and work your way up.  Perhaps it’s saying no when a friend asks you to see a movie you have no interest in watching or say no to the restaurant you aren’t fond of.  Once you get used to using your voice to say no it becomes easier and easier to do.  

3

Take the time to evaluate if saying no is worth it.  For example, do you really have to go to every single birthday party you are invited to?  Must you attend every happy hour at work?  Is it vital to lead every work assignment you are asked to collaborate on?  At times, the answer may be yes, but often times, you can look out for your best interest and (politely) decline.  Trust me, declining an invitation – especially to something you are not genuinely excited for, is the way to go.  You will free up your time to do something that does excite you, like spending time with loved ones or catching up on a good book.   Ask yourself what benefit will come from accepting the invite and what are you sacrificing in order to accept it.  If you do not find the benefit outweighs the sacrifice, then it is time to decline.       

Taking things off your plate is not selfish. If a request is being made that you do not feel will serve you (or you feel you cannot dedicate the time needed for it), it will only lead to a less than desirable outcome.

Feeling empowered? What will you say no to this week?

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