No, With Love

Have you ever found yourself trapped in an avalanche of commitments? Too many board meetings, too many social engagements, too many projects? For many of us, the urge to say “YES” to new time commitments is overwhelming, and the word has left our mouth before we even fully understand what we’ve committed ourselves to.

So, how do you begin to dig yourself out?

  • View “No” as an act of love—No doesn’t have to be a bad thing. In fact, you should view it as a positive thing—and affirmation of your priorities. View saying no as a very intentional and important act for your benefit, not as a disappointment or negative statement. You have a right to your time, and you should never feel badly about asserting that right. On that note…
  • Regard your time as the valuable resource that it is—There are some things that just aren’t worth your time. Period. That isn’t meant to be an insult to the commitment in question, and it doesn’t mean that the opportunity you’re declining is a bad thing, it just means that devoting your time to that endeavor isn’t a good choice for you.
  • Don’t let the emotions of others dictate your actions— Many times we say “yes” purely out of guilt. Might somebody be disappointed if you can’t join their organization or commit to their social gathering? Sure…but that disappointment is their response, and they’re just as entitled to their feelings as you are to your time. Resist the urge to assuage feelings that are normal and reasonable.
  • You might miss out on an opportunity, and that’s ok—We miss out on opportunities every day. It’s a fact of life…we can’t be all places at all times. Rather than dwelling on what might be, or what could’ve been, instead focus on being present in the very important areas to which you have decided to devote your time. Have a mindset of gratitude rather than one of lacking.
  • If all else fails, recommend somebody else—Feeling unbearably terrible about having to turn down an opportunity? Consider that the time commitment that isn’t a fit for you might be a huge opportunity for somebody else. Take the time to recommend somebody who you feel could do just as good a job as you, or who would be just as passionate and willing to step in.

A final thought: Once time is spent, it cannot be recovered. Ever. The next time you’re asked to sit on that new board or donate your time to a new cause, devote some serious thought to whether that opportunity is worthy of your precious time.

We’d love to hear about how you say “no”. Share your experiences with us in the comments below.

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