Is it hard for you to say "no" to others?
Do you find yourself overwhelmed, juggling too many balls in the air, wondering how you got roped into so many responsibilities?
The school bake sale.
Planning the next church activity.
Playing taxi driver to your children's 5,467 after-school activities each week.
Watching your neighbor's children when you often can't even keep track of your own.
Planning an epic birthday party for your tweenager.
Too many things to do and not enough hours to do them.
At least that's how it feels, right?
In Greg McKeown's book, Essentialism (read it, already!!), he devotes an entire chapter to saying "no."
Here are three of my favorite take-aways from that inspiring chapter:
1. Remember that when you say "yes" to something, you are automatically saying "no" to something else. Are you saying "yes" to the people and projects in your life that are most important to you? Are you dedicating your time where you feel you can make your greatest contribution? Or are you running around all day, getting caught up in the thick of thin things?
Remember, "if you don't prioritize your life, someone else will."
2. Use the "soft no". I love this one. Let's say that you are asked to bake 6 dozen cupcakes for the upcoming fundraiser at your school--and you don't feel that making cupcakes is dedicating time to what matters most to you--instead of saying "yes" when you mean "no", use the "soft no":
"No, I won't be able to bake 3 dozen cupcakes by tomorrow, but I will buy some Oreo cookies to donate to the cause!"
Say "no" and then follow up with what you ARE willing to do instead.
3. Saying "no" can be really awkward at times, but I believe it can still be done with class. You can affirm the relationship, thank the person for the opportunity, and then firmly and politely decline.
Let's use the cupcake example again:
"I'm so flattered that you would ask me to participate in the fundraiser." (affirming relationship)
"Thank you for considering me." (thank person for the opportunity)
"For several reasons I'm not willing to take on that baking project." (firmly and politely decline)
Then,whether or not the person making a request of you is upset by your decline, YOU still get to decide how you feel about them.
And saying "no" with love is always an option.
The more you practice, the easier it gets.
And the easier it gets, the more you'll be in control of what you choose to juggle each day.
Choose wisely, sister!
More on Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, can be found here.