A good friend of mine recently shared a secret with me. When I asked her how she managed to stay so calm, cool and collected, she told me it was something she learned years ago that has helped her both professionally and personally.
She learned to say “NO”.
After listening to her share how this has changed her life, I tried to do this myself. While I’m still learning and caving once in awhile, I can now clearly see the benefits of using this little two-lettered word when need be.
You can do it too. It’s an easy way to change your life without spending any of your money or time. Try to say no more often and enjoy these benefits:
1. You spend more time doing things you want to do.
This is obvious, but it’s also true. Don’t feel guilty for saying no to something if you just can’t bear the thought of it. Evaluate each situation separately.
For example, my friend explained that if a coworker she’s not close to invites her to a baby shower, she says no immediately without guilt because she is better off with doing things she really wants to do.
Yet, she was candid enough to add that when her boss asks her to do something she takes a minute to think about how it will help her career before writing it off.
There are always things in life that you will have to do, but there should be some incentive for doing it, even if the act itself isn’t exactly what you want to be doing in that moment. Don’t place yourself second by catering to the things that are not in line with your future goals and overall happiness.
2. You weed out people who aren’t important in your life.
By accepting invites and responsibilities only from people you truly care about, the less important ones tend to fade away.
Most people quickly realize that you don’t have time for them and stop asking. Don’t feel guilty; you simply can’t spend quality time with the people you really care about if you divide your time among everyone that asks.
Don’t be mean or rude; you don’t want to create enemies, you just want to devote more time to people and activities you truly care about.
3. You get more out of your professional life.
When you say no to jobs and projects that don’t fit in your professional goals, you are spending much more of your time on things that will get you where you want to be.
Choose colleagues and projects that offer you something, whether it is a fun environment or a topic that really interests you. You’ll be much happier for it, and your career will soar because of it.
4. You are excited about your work.
By only doing work that you love, you can be excited about going to work. Being happy in your job increases productivity, which translates to a higher level of satisfaction. It is also a pathway to climb up the salary-ladder.
Money shouldn’t be the only motivator of course, but unmotivated and unhappy employees don’t get raises and promotions.
5. People respect you more when you say no.
We all know someone who we call a “sucker”. You know who I’m talking about: The guy who does anything for anyone all the time. Everyone likes him because they can get what they want out of him, but no one has any respect for the guy or his time.
Don’t be that guy. Do what is important to you. Let someone else be a sucker.
6. You get more out of your time.
If you’re not at meetings you don’t want to attend or at parties you feel pressured into going to, you can spend more time on a hobby you lost track of, or catch up with old friends who really mean a lot to you.
7. You are less stressed.
You know how you feel before you have to go to an event you really don’t want to go to? The nervousness, the hurriedness, the overall feeling of stress? That goes away when you start saying “no” to these kinds of invites.
When stress is reduced, your overall health will get better. What can possibly be better than that?
8. People you care about thank you.
You will be a better spouse, parent, friend and colleague. People will appreciate you much more once you can give them your undivided attention. Your home life will be better, and your career will soar now that you can focus on doing things you love instead of always focusing on obligations.
I was always a people-pleaser because agreeing was always easier than saying no and feeling guilty. The reality, however, is that it’s always easy to be a “yes” person until the time you can take it. That’s when all the stress misery starts and it only continues the more time you waste on things that just don’t matter.
Stop it right now by saying “NO” then next time someone asks you to do something that just doesn’t fit in with your life goals. It will get easier, and the guilt will gradually go away.
An honest “no” will take you further than a superficial “yes”.
Do you say “no” when you want to? How has it helped you?
Photo by Taylor Dawn Fortune