We are in a season where activities and demands are picking up. There are more schedules to manage and pulls on our time. In general, we want to be helpful and accommodating to people. Therefore we hate to say “NO”. People often do anything to avoid this word. We will avoid people, redirect conversations, make excuses, be non-committal or simply say “YES” to things we know we will have a hard time following through on. The reality is we simply cannot do everything. When we keep saying “YES” to things we are adding on “stuff” to our “plate” which causes overwhelm, stress and frustration. Even though we would like to answer “YES” to everything, we must learn how to say “NO” in order to have a peaceful life which exhibits quality, balance and basic sanity.
How do you do it? When you say “YES” to a new activity, you have to say “NO” to remove something else that is already on your full plate. Here is how:
- Be clear on your priorities and what is important. If you are not clear, you will not have a compelling reason to say “NO” when you feel drawn to accept a new item on your plate. Try to strike a balance with the “Essential 8”: family, friends, work, health, budgeting, fun, physical space (home, office, car), and personal growth (spiritual, educational, personal development). i.e. #1 Family. I will spend 5 hours a day taking care of my family and making sure they get their needs met. #2 Work. I will spend 8 hours a day working on projects that produce an income of $5000/mo. so I can provide the best for my family, etc.
- Set filters for each of your Essential 8 areas. You want to have your Essential 8 listed by priority and set a filter for each (take the purpose/goal for each area and then be clear on what fits and what does not). Take special note of the proportion each area is getting. If priority #1 is family, #2 is work, #3 is health and you have 100% work commitments and no family time or personal care several things will happen. Your health will suffer which will then jeopardize your physical ability to complete those tasks and your family will interrupt and demand superhuman feats for you to squeeze their needs onto your already full plate. These filters will help you discern what things you need to say “NO” in order to maintain balance.
- Evaluate what is on your plate. Considering each of the Essential 8 areas and your priorities, determine what your “needs” are. “Should’s” need to move to one side of the fence. Do you need it or not? Consider your balance so you have some big projects (meat), some personal care (veggie), some daily necessities (good grain/filler), and a hobby/fun thing (dessert). These are the things to which you are saying “YES!”
- Say “NO” to the things that do not meet your filters. These may be the least important things on your list OR new things that come up in your life. Remember whenever you say “YES” you are saying “NO” to something. If you say “YES” to a weekend project at work, you are saying “NO” to your family time that weekend. You may not have to tell your family “NO” but that will be the result. If you say “YES” to volunteer at the evening carnival you are saying “NO” to your workout – which could result in your being more tired and lethargic and therefore less productive the next day.
When you say “NO” you have more power to say “YES” to what is important. Remember “NO” can mean never, it can also mean, “no, not right now”. Let yourself have some space to do what is important. You will experience the power of balance and boundaries which will result in you being more effective and productive. You will enjoy less stress and more peace with your life.