“No" is a complete sentence.” - Anne Lamott
Saying “No,” when someone anticipates a “Yes,” is incredibly unpleasant. Know what’s more unpleasant? Getting roped into doing something that wastes your time, your most valuable resource, over the long term. But our inability to say no makes complete sense. Humans are hardwired for short term-returns and seem to quickly forget what our Future Self would want in favor of making our Present Self feel comfortable.
In the spirit of honoring our Future Selves, let’s look at the 5 amazing things that happen when you learn to start saying NO.
You Have Time for Yourself
Prioritizing your own needs means taking that newly gifted time (provided by your NO) to nourish your mind, body and soul by doing what you value, caring for yourself and finding daily gratitude and inspiration. Each obligation you refuse, that doesn’t feed your bliss, is a gift wrapped capsule of “you” time.
You’re Less Resentful
This ultimately helps you and everyone around you. When you’re spending your last minutes of time on a project you don’t value, you get angry -- at the people who asked for help, at yourself, and even at random other people involved. You “helping” in this spirit is not really ideal for anyone involved. Maybe if you had said “No” to being on that committee, someone else who cares more about the project could have said, “Yes.”
You Focus on The Essential
People with too much on their plates can suffer decision fatigue and ego depletion. Each time you give yourself away to something unessential, you distract yourself from what really matters. When you say “No,” you make space for what matters -- physically, virtually and (correspondingly) in your mind.
You Become More Generous
This seems counterintuitive, but it’s really not. Saying “No” means having time to recharge. And when you’re not run down, stressed and over-taxed, you devote time and attention to the people and projects you value. Setting boundaries also helps you respect and not resent boundaries other people set as you begin to see that we don’t all value the same things in life (and that this is a good thing).
People Respect You
For saying “No” to them? Yep. Because when you understand why you have to say “No,” internally, you will become a much better communicator to the friends, family and co-workers who need you. Plus they’ll see you living for what you value and it will become very apparent why you can’t head up the birthday celebrations at work. You’re the person that spends their lunches and breaks doing that THING that matters to them -- whether it’s having lunch with your spouse, freelance writing, exercising, etc. Will they be thrilled you turned them down? No. Will they see that it’s not personal? Yes. When you have time to give what you value all that you have, you’re living a life of integrity and that commands respect.