I've always believed that the key to success was to say "Yes" to any opportunity that came my way. In the twists and turns I've taken, I learned that the answer "No" was just as powerful in helping me achieve my dreams. It took me a long time to realize that setting boundaries and prioritizing was the best way to accomplish my goals without the pitfall of stress and burnout.
My friend Ray, a teacher, told me an interesting story. He had just started in a new school and was talking to another instructor. She asked him, "How many projects did you sign up for this year?"
Ray replied, "I signed up for two."
His new friend was incredulous. "Just two! I'm involved in six! How did you get away with only signing up for two?"
Ray answered, "I know what I can handle to give the projects the best chance for success. Why are you setting yourself up for failure by taking on more than you should?"
She admitted to being afraid that it would look like she couldn't do her job if she didn't take on the projects presented. The idea of pushing back didn't occur to her.
At times, saying "No" can be challenging. It can feel as though you're missing out or potentially damaging a relationship. But, saying "Yes" when you don't have the capacity to deliver can lead to disappointment, frustration and cause more hurt than if you were honest from the start. Creating a culture of respect happens when you develop an open dialogue, set clear goals, and manage expectations.
Setting boundaries is also vital for your well-being. When you're constantly trying to please everyone else, you're likely neglecting your own needs and desires. I used to think it was selfish to put myself first, but I soon found that if I didn't take care of myself, I wasn't any good for anyone else. Plus, I didn't like feeling resentful when, ultimately, it was my fault for trying to do everything for everybody.
- Make a list of what you can and cannot commit to, and stick to it!
- Saying "No" is not a sign of weakness; it's a sign of self-respect.
- If it's not an emergency, delegate the assignment to someone else.
- Don't be afraid to ask for help.
- Taking on too much can lead to burnout. Prioritize your time and energy by saying no to some commitments and achieving greater success!
The funny thing is no one got mad when I started to decline assignments or last-minute invitations. In fact, everyone understood, and it didn't hurt my job performance or my personal relationships. The concern I had for saying "No" and the possible repercussions of it never happened. Who knew others could do laundry, shop, and feed themselves when needed? I'm not that indispensable, after all.
Saying "No" isn't always easy. Getting comfortable with turning people down can take practice, especially if you're used to being a "Yes" person. However, the more you do it, the easier it gets. Remember that saying "No" doesn't make you a bad person. It simply means you're being mindful of your time and energy. Believe it or not, you're setting an excellent example for others around you by putting your best efforts forward without undue pressure. You'll gain respect by being the person who utilizes their full potential to get the job done. Plus, it's nice when someone else offers to pick up groceries and cook dinner. (I hope my husband reads this.)