Maybe that title doesn’t read correctly. My editors try to help me with grammar and comma placement, but I fear I’ll never fully become proficient with that stuff. Maybe if I had finished my degree in English instead of switching to psychology that would have worked itself out. Oh well.
The point of this short post is to serve as a gentle nudge for some, and a reminder to others, that you need to learn how to say no more often.
Over the course of the next six weeks, I’m going to be releasing a new line of books I call the Dominate Your Life series. The first one, Dominate Your Anxiety will cover a range of strategies and methods I give friends, clients, students, and parents to help them decrease the stress in their lives and eventually eliminated it completely.
The reason I decided to talk about saying no more often is because it is something that should be so easy to do, but we often don’t do it.
If It’s Not Fun, Why Do It?
My mother loves Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. She loves the crazy flavors as well as the psychedelic-looking t-shirts they sell. Several years ago, she bought a sticker from the Ben & Jerry’s store that said, “If it’s not fun, why do it?”
That sticker’s mantra obviously stayed with me for a long time, and probably will continue to do so.
I was reminded of that philosophy not long ago while playing a round of golf with a new friend. I don’t get to play that often, maybe four times a year, but this guy said there would be weeks where he played six out of seven days. He then told me that there are some weeks, however, where he doesn’t play as much because he doesn’t feel like it. He explained that even when you are doing things you enjoy, they can become unenjoyable, and that if something isn’t enjoyable, why should he do it?
I agreed, and talked to him about how saying no had become an important part of my life. I told him about how some of my friends invite me to do things that I don’t really feel like doing. In the past, I might have said yes just to make them happy, or to be sociable.
Saying yes can get you in a lot of trouble though, and it doesn’t have to just be about things you might enjoy or not.
Too many people saying yes caused the housing crisis a few years ago. Maybe that’s an oversimplification, but it’s how I see the way it went down. Saying yes too often can also result in you overcommitting your time. This last part is what I talk about in the new book, and is the main reason why I want more people to learn how to say no.
Commit to Less
It can be tempting to think you can take on everything, do it all yourself, and save the world. The truth is that this kind of mentality will only cause you worry, stress, and result in a lower level of overall happiness. With all the technology we have and the tendency to want to multi-task, saying yes to people’s requests has become our almost-natural reaction to everything. It shouldn’t be.
Telling your coworker that you don’t mind helping him/her out with their project at the office might not be the best idea when you have a deadline of your own fast approaching. I understand you want to be helpful, and you want to be a good friend/colleague, but you need to start taking into consideration your own well-being, along with the quality of work that you output.
When you take on more tasks, you begin to divide your focus between them. If you have one project you’re working on, and a friend wants you to help with theirs, now you are only giving both projects 50% of your effort. That means the quality could be 50% is good too.
Saying no more often means that you will only take on the tasks that you can handle with the time you have available. It doesn’t mean you have to say no every time someone asks you to do something, go somewhere, or help with a project. It simply means that you owe it to yourself, and the person making the request to only give them the best of you.
Say yes when you will enjoy whatever it is you’re being asked to do, or when you can offer your best quality of effort. Living this way will increase your level of happiness, and decrease your level of stress.
It may seem like a simple or obvious suggestion. That’s okay. Like I said, it’s a nudge or a reminder. I’ve found that I need reminders about these kinds of things fairly often.
If you found this post helpful, share it with a friend you think might need it. And I’d love to hear your comments below.
*Warning: Sales Pitch
And if you are struggling with anxiety, be sure to grab a copy of my new book Dominate Your Anxiety on September 8 on Amazon. It features every little trick I’ve used in my own life, and shared with others to help eliminate stress.