The Power of Saying ‘No’

The career advice you missed while you were busy hustling

If you’re a busy woman trying to advance your career or your business, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve gotten a TON of advice telling you to take every single opportunity that comes your way.

You’ve heard it before:

  • Never turn down a coffee chat or networking event.
  • Always snap up every guest blog invite and speaking engagement you’re offered.
  • Joint venture projects? Affiliate programs? You snooze, you lose!

You’re constantly told to latch on to every potential big gig if you want to build momentum in your business or uplevel your career.

But here’s what no one tells you.

Rarely does this kind of advice ever acknowledge that this approach can be exhausting, stressful and frankly, unsustainable. It can lead to massive burnout and suck the joy out of the lifestyle that you’re trying to create for yourself by having the job of your dreams or running a business that you love.

If your goal is to truly find balance in your life while still fully living into your purpose, saying ‘yes’ to everything may not be the best option for you. There is power in saying ‘no’, especially if you want to be that strong, healthy woman who’s busy changing the world (and looking AMAZING while doing it!).

Here are three reasons why there is so much power in saying ‘no’:

1. Saying no helps you stay in control of your time and your schedule

As an autonomous human being, you should be in control of your time, not the other way around. This applies to entrepreneurs and employees alike. If you’re an entrepreneur then you likely set your own schedule (total time freedom? Um, yes please!). If you have an employer, you’re obviously obligated to use your time in the way that they pay you to use it, but there’s even some freedom within this framework.

Prime example? The email trap.

In most situations, there is zero need to respond immediately to the endless barrage of emails that flood your inbox throughout the day. Most emails can wait at least an hour or so, if not longer. Unless there is an emergency, there’s no reason the reply can’t be put off for a couple of hours at least.

Besides, does anybody actually rely on email for extreme emergencies?

Didn’t think so.

Whether you’re a career woman or an entrepreneur, getting caught up in your email can be a huge time suck (it’s basically a whole lotta you spending time meeting other people’s priorities and not enough focusing on your own).

Image courtesy of Unsplash

Let’s be real, you chose entrepreneurship to create a lifestyle that works for you, not to be a slave to your time and other people’s demands. Even if you work for someone else’s business, you likely have a big list of things to do to fulfill your role. Frittering away half your day hitting “reply” on demand is just downright inefficient.

By now you must be thinking “but what if responding to email IS a big part of my job? I have to communicate with people somehow, right?”.

You’re absolutely right.

But the key is to create a system where you’re working smarter, not harder.

To keep your email under control, try the batching method. Turn off your pop-up notifications, let the emails accumulate for a while (I recommend 45 minutes to an hour) and set aside a short, focused block of time at the end of each “accumulation period” to respond to every message thoughtfully and completely.

You’ll be far more productive during the rest of the day and chances are, people won’t even notice. Fight the urge to respond on the spot and you’ll soon find you can get back to running your schedule instead having your schedule run you.

2. Saying no to the wrong things means that you can say yes to the right things.

This applies not just to opportunities that come up in business or in your career but also some things in your personal life.

Let’s say you’ve put your family or your relationship high on your list of priorities, but there are just soooo many events that you’re feeling pressured to attend. Saying yes to those may mean sacrificing time with your loved ones for people who are far less important to you.

People often underestimate the extent to which you can decline social engagements, even if it’s a big event like a wedding (assuming it’s not close family or loved ones). Non-essential work parties and community events can also be things we feel obligated to show up to, but remember that saying no to those means saying yes to what you actually do prioritize.

Saying yes to something that is (relatively) unimportant to you means that you’re likely saying no to something that you consider extremely important. Instead, say yes to spending time with your significant other, your children, self-care or working on your business.

3. Saying no is good for your relationships

Yes. Saying no can be the best way to keep your relationships intact.

Sounds counterintuitive? Stay with me.

Sometimes we say yes to people’s requests out of obligation (especially when they’re close friends or family). We feel like we have to say yes because we’re afraid that if we don’t, they will be upset with us and the relationship will eventually go up in smoke.

Here’s where we’re wrong. When you’re already running low on time, energy or capacity and you run yourself ragged saying yes left right and center because you feel like you have no choice, it actually builds resentment. But when you haven’t set clear boundaries and you keep saying yes, how are other people supposed to know that you don’t actually want to do those things?

Feeling taken advantage of, or constantly hounded for time and energy when you have hardly anything to give builds the kind of resentment that will do far more damage than just saying ‘no’ in the first place would.

When you say yes out of obligation you’re lying and pretending that you want to do something that you absolutely don’t want to or cannot do. Even if you have the best of intentions, it’s much easier for everyone involved if you’re honest from the beginning.

Setting clear boundaries is actually better for your relationships because you won’t be dealing with all that built-up resentment. So yes, saying ‘no’ can actually improve your relationships! How powerful is that!?

The next time you’re presented with an opportunity that takes up space on your calendar, run through these questions in your head before saying yes:

Will it help me be in control of my time?

Will it mean I still have time to ‘yes’ to the right things?

And will it be beneficial or detrimental to my relationships?

Remember: you can say no, you can stand up for yourself, you can set boundaries and then you can just move on.

The world will survive. And so will you.

There are only so many hours in the day, and by saying no to the things that are not a ‘heck yes’, you’re freeing up that time to do things that are actually enriching your life, making you a better person, and helping you to serve your family, friends, employer and clients in a more powerful way.

Originally published at on March 6, 2017.

Originally published at

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