Six Truths To Help You Say No

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Motivational Speaker Kelly Swanson is an award-winning storyteller, author, and comedian who teaches you how to harness the power of your story to connect, engage, and get results. In this blog, Kelly focuses on the business of professional speaking. Kelly’s post day is Friday. If you aren't sure how to comment on this story, click here.

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Stressed? Overworked? Burned Out? Tired of Saying Yes to EVERYBODY? Being Pulled in Too Many Directions?

Yeah. Me too. Most of us (especially women) feel this way most of the time.  “Busy” is one of the most dangerous four-letter words of our day. We carry that word like a badge of honor, as if the one who is the busiest wins. Yet that same word can kill us and rob us of our joy. Being busy is nothing to brag about.  You don’t get more points for it.

So how do we get off this ride? 

Six Truths from a Motivational Speaker To Help You Say No

Truth: Acknowledge This is a Problem

You can’t solve a problem until you admit you have one. Acknowledge that this ride is moving too fast and you are going to get hurt. Until you are truly aware that this pace is too much for you, you will never change it. Period. Take a long hard look at what “being busy” gets you.

Why are you so busy? Do you think more people will like you if you say yes?  Do you think people will think you’re lazy if they see you taking a nap?  Do you like it when people praise you for what you’ve done and everybody else cheers?  Is taking on too much a sign of something deeper going on?  Ask yourself why you keep saying yes to everything. Does it have anything to do with how you want others to feel about you?

Truth: Know the Limits Of Your Time

There are only so many hours in the day. There are only so many things you can do in that day. There are only so many people you can please. There is only so much that can get done. You have only so many years left in this life and it will be over. You don’t get a do-over. One life. That’s it.

You may choose to live your life any way you want. It’s your call. If you choose to be miserable and stressed, I can’t stop you, and I can’t make you want something else. Not my job.  You have to truly want a more peaceful life as a gift to yourself.

Truth:  Understand What You Really Can Control

There is very little around us that we can control.  We can’t control other people and what they do. We can’t control these circumstances.  We can only do what we can do.

Take a moment to really process that. We. Can. Only. Do. What. We. Can. Do. As long as you think you can control the world, you will continue to try.

Truth:  Clarify Your Priorities

Until you know exactly what is important, you will think everything is important.  This starts with truly understanding and WRITING DOWN what is important to YOU. What matters to you. The kind of life YOU want.  What are your top three or four priorities in life? Inside those priorities, what are the top three priorities? Get specific and define it.  “Being a good mom” is too broad. It will cause you to think that every opportunity to be involved in your child’s life fits.  Define what a good mom will look like for you – the top priorities.

Truth: Understand That Something Always Loses

When you say yes to something, you are saying no to your top priorities.  Something always has to give. When you say yes to hosting a baby shower, you are saying no to something that really matters to you. There are only so many hours in a day. These moments are like dollars in a checking account. When you buy something, you lower the amount of dollars you have left.  When you “pay” to host a shower, you have just taken out money from your son’s account.  And in the world of time, we don’t get to charge it.  It gets a lot easier to say no to a stranger’s request, when you see what you are giving up to do it.

Truth: Know Your Triggers

Being caught off guard is often a reason for saying yes when we don’t want to. Don’t get caught off guard. Never answer someone right away. Give yourself 24 hours or more to think it over, process, and respond.  Taking time to respond will lessen the chance that someone will catch you when you’re tired, weak, or doing something so you’ll look good in the moment that you’ll later regret.  Have responses ready for when people ask you a favor. “Thank you for asking. I am going to take some take thinking about that and whether it fits into my current priorities, and I will get back to you within 48 hours.”  This will sound strange saying it to your mother-in-law. Do it anyway.

Closing Thoughts….

Have you ever had a moment when tragedy entered your life without any warning?  Remember how your entire world shifted and the only thing that mattered was what was happening in that moment? All the other worries and priorities suddenly faded away to nothing because nothing was as important as what you faced in that moment?  While these are not moments we wish for, there is one thing we can learn while in them – that what we thought was important a minute ago, suddenly isn’t so important now. Somehow it’s easy for us to learn this lesson when tragedy is staring us in the face. The true test, is whether we’ll carry that lesson with us when life gets back to normal, as a constant reminder of the fleeting nature of life.

I think the picture caption to the right explains it best.