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Do those 5 words roll easily off your tongue? Can you say them without stammering, apologizing, or piling guilt on your head? If not, you’re jeopardizing your goals, plans, and dreams. Because when you avoid saying “no” to low-priority activities, you’re limiting the time and energy you can devote to high-priority activities – the things you really want to do.
Because when you say “yes,” to one thing, you almost always say “no” to something else.
It’s Important To Say No
Saying “yes” to “Can you serve as the fundraising chairperson this spring?” may mean “no” to expanding your blog, launching a business, or taking on more consulting. And “yes” to “Can you coordinate the children’s program this year?” most likely means “no” to starting an exercise program or getting more sleep. And “yes” to “Can you keep our kids this weekend?” almost certainly means “no” to relaxing and enjoying some time with your husband.
So why don’t we say those 5 words more often? Lots of reasons – we want people to like us, we feel more important when we’re busy, we’ve gotten into the habit of saying “yes,” or we just haven’t practiced saying them. And sometimes, we don’t say them because busyness keeps us from having to deal with issues or problems we’d rather not address.
I don’t like saying any of those words, primarily because I want people to like me. Recently I said “not anymore” to a volunteer job I did for many years. I didn’t like saying it, and I’m pretty sure some people didn’t like hearing it! But I did it, I survived, and I freed up time for things that are higher priority right now. And to be honest, it really wasn’t as hard as I expected!
So, if you want to focus your life on the things that are most important to you and your family, you have to learn to say them too.
So let’s practice:
- “Can you serve as room mother this year?” No.
- “Mom, can I play soccer this spring?” Not while you’re taking ballet. (Not now.)
- “I hope you’re planning to run the baseball concessions again this spring.” Sorry, not this year. (Not anymore.)
- “Can you take my shifts at work this weekend?” No.
- “Can we go to the store tonight? I need new notebooks and paper for tomorrow.” Sorry, you should have asked me earlier. (Not now.)
- “You’re coordinating the school play again this year, aren’t you?” No, it’s someone else’s turn. (Not anymore)
I think every woman can learn to say “no” when she needs to, in order to say “yes” to the things she really values. However, if you find it difficult at first, try this – say, “I need to think about it.” That buys you some time to plan your strategy. In addition, make sure you’ve identified your top priorities – the things you really want to accomplish over the next year. Knowing that those things are your “yes” makes identifying other things as “no” so much easier.
Author Bio: Gaye Groover Christmus
Gaye Groover Christmus, MPH is a wife and mom to two almost-grown sons. In her “day job” she works as a writer and editor in a health field. Her passion, though, is encouraging married women to slow down, live with vitality and energy, and create joy and intimacy in their marriages. She believes that small steps can lead to big changes, and that women armed with knowledge and a plan can transform their hurried, hectic lives. Gaye blogs at CalmHealthySexy. Her ebook, 17 Ways to Live Calmer, Healthier and Sexier – Starting Today – is available as a gift for subscribers.
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