This content may look a bit familiar. It has been adapted from content that was originally published on our company website last year. This is the revised version with new content, images, and a cute, handy infographic to help guide you.
If you’re like most people, you sometimes find yourself staring into the dark, soulless eyes of a never-ending task list, wondering what on earth you did to get there. You’re just a normal person, trying to live your life, be successful, and achieve your goals, just like everyone else. Yet, despite how hard you work and how much effort you put into each task, that insurmountable list just keeps growing. You can never get ahead, no matter how hard you try.
Take a deep breath, friend. There is light at the end of the tunnel, and you will once again take control of your own life. The best part is, you don’t have to spend any money on a fancy new gadget, and you can start immediately (once you finish reading this, of course!)
Every action we take requires us to make one or more decisions: go left or right; say yes or no; study or binge Netflix; eat chocolate or kale (blegh). Each decision has an impact on how we feel, what we do, and more importantly, how we spend our time. And as you know, time is not unlimited. There are 24 hours in a day, and I am sure by now that you have realized there just isn’t enough time for everything every single day.
Remember when I told you that you can not and should not try to do everything? It’s something that I tell myself on a daily basis, and it is well worth reiterating again and again. Well, the fact is the only way to stop trying to do everything is to learn when to say no.
No. No. No.
Say it as you need, and speak the words with confidence.
No, I can’t do that today. I have other things that need to be done, so you will have to find someone else.
No, that project can wait until later.
No, that task is not important and will only impede my progress.
That sounds super easy, right? For most of us, “no” seems to be one of the hardest words to say. How does one tiny word, just two letters forming one short syllable, result in so much discomfort?
There are a few different reasons for this, but the biggest thing is we don’t want to disappoint others, miss out on opportunities, or cause trouble for someone else.
Saying No To Friends & Family
Some of us have trouble saying no to friends and loved ones, even if it interferes with our own goals. Sara needs help moving. Robert needs a babysitter for his kids Sunday evening. Dominique needs help finishing up his resume. Which of these things do we say no to, and how do we decide?
Your true friends want you to succeed. Talk to them and be honest if they ask for your help and it’s not in your best interest to give it. You can still be supportive and play your part without giving them your all and leaving nothing for yourself.
Saying No To Ourselves
Others of us find it nearly impossible to say no to ourselves. We don’t filter our own projects and ambitions and overreach more than we should.
To be frank, this is where I have the most difficulty saying no. I will think of a new project, start working on it immediately without considering my options, get another idea, start working on that, get another, and before I know it, nothing is accomplished. Also, by this point, I will realize how many projects I’ve started and will feel guilty, overwhelmed, and utterly lost. All of it could be avoided by saying that one tiny word.
Avoiding Conflict, At Great Sacrifice
Most of us don’t enjoy conflict, but some of us will go to great lengths to avoid it, even if it makes us miserable. We may desperately want to say no but choose not to because it might upset someone else.
This fear, and subsequent inability to refuse a new task, can have severe consequences. When we refuse to say no, we are putting our own happiness at risk by forcing ourselves to either do something that we don’t want to do or passively decline by ignoring the person that asks. We might get away with it every now and then, but eventually it will catch up to us and may be detrimental to our personal relationships.
Even if you are fearful of conflict, if you have other things you should be doing, saying yes to a new task just to keep someone else happy is not a good idea. You will be miserable, stressed, and unable to spend your time doing the things that matter most to you.
When you are faced with a new task, you have three basic options: accept it, delegate it, or pass on it. If you aren’t sure which option to choose, follow this guide.
Once you decide you don’t want to do something or just don’t have the time, the best course of action is to give a polite, but firm, answer. Take control of your life, and create your own happiness.
The cute little bird used in the infographic was purchased in the Set Let’s Be Friends illustration set from 100% for kids on Creative Market. Click the banner below if you are interested in purchasing this item or others like it.
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Any opinions expressed are strictly my own. If I wouldn’t eat, drink, or use something, neither should you (and I wouldn’t suggest otherwise).
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