Part of moving towards living simpler, and making room for the things that matter most to us, involves learning when and how to say no. This isn’t easy but is an essential skill if we want to clear the clutter and unnecessary from our lives.
Here are some quickfire strategies that can help us all in our quest to say no.
1) Value Your Own Time
You have to value your own time before you can expect anyone else to. Once you place a high value on your own time and capacity to take on extra work/appointments/responsibilities, knowing where and when to say no will become clearer and easier to do.
2) Value Your Existing Commitments
You will already have existing commitments (appointments, work duties, family commitments, time for hobbies, things you have already said yes to). Respect these and try to ensure anything else you are taking on (saying yes to) fits in and doesn’t negatively impact existing commitments.
Don’t be afraid to re-prioritise existing commitments where you really need to (or indeed want to if something exciting comes up) but take existing commitments seriously. Try to avoid moving them as much as possible.
3) Saying No Doesn’t Make You a Bad Person
Pressure from others or internal pressure (self-talk) can mean many of us are programmed to believe that saying no makes us uncooperative or unsupportive. That’s not the case. Recognising when and how to say no are key life skills that anyone that wants to live a productive and happy life needs to acquire.
4) How You Say No Matters
Be clear and firm that you’re saying no but do so in a polite way and, if it helps, explain your decision. For example, “No, I can’t deal with this right now as I have other commitments to meet”.
5) Don’t Change Your Mind
Once you’ve said no, stand by your decision (unless there is a very good reason not to) and don’t be pressured out of it. Let others know that when you say no you mean it.
6) Where Possible Don’t Apologise
Don’t feel you have to apologise for saying no. You’ve done nothing wrong other than identified that you either don’t want to say yes or don’t have the capacity to say yes.
7) Recognise What You Really Want to Say Yes To
Value what is important to you and your own priorities. Do you really want to accept that new invitation that has just come through or are you stuck in default yes mode?
This also means balancing between work and play. If one is impacting the other in a negative way, something is amiss. A balanced life means that we value both our work and play time.
I hope these strategies help or at least get you thinking about your own approach to saying no. Make room for what’s important to you and say no to those things that interfere.