The most powerful word in your vocabulary is “no” because the word that makes you feel powerless at times is “yes”. You hand out your “yes” card a little too freely while letting your “no” card collect lint in your figurative pocket. Every “yes” that you pass out in error decreases your ability to pass out a “yes” that fits your needs and goals. That means that every withheld “no” keeps you from living your best life.
Stop saying “yes” when it hurts you. Stop saying “yes” to spare the feelings of others. Stop saying “yes” when you know the deal offered is no good. Stop saying “yes” just because it requires very little effort upfront. Stop saying “yes” to please others and make yourself look like a saint. Who cares if you appear to be a saint while the needs of others are dictating your life? When will you realize that you can’t save everyone, and you are draining yourself physically, mentally and emotionally by trying to? When will you do a favor to yourself by saying “no”?
The word “yes” denotes deprivation. That may sound wrong to you but think about this. Every time that you say “yes” instead of “no”, you are depriving yourself of some amount of time, space, energy, and opportunity. Generally, each day yields 24 hours. There’s nothing you can do to add a second of time to your day. Once a day passes, you can’t get it back. You can’t hit the reset button and start that day over. You can’t have a negative balance of sleeping hours and a positive balance of more than 24 hours in a day that you use to rush around and solve everyone’s problems. You can’t take on all the mediocre projects and still excel at the complex projects that require your focus and intensity. Whenever you say “yes” without cause, you are hindering the partnerships and projects that require your time, energy and your genuine “yes”.
You are empathetic. You are caring. You are nurturing. You are talented. You are reliable. You are trustworthy. Your word is your bond. You are great at what you do. Everyone calls on you at the last minute to do the impossible, and you pride yourself on your loyalty and your ability to deliver. Since everyone knows that you will deliver when called, why call anyone else? What incentive do people have to call you within a reasonable amount of time when you always respond to their last-minute calls to action? It is nice of you to want to help others reach their goals, but you must establish and communicate priorities. It’s great that you let people see you in all your glory, but, perhaps, they should know that last-minute requests put you in a bind and facilitate delayed deadlines on your other projects. You are only one person, and you don’t have a surrogate to delegate tasks to. When you fill your proverbial plate to the brim with a mix of things you must do and things that you’d like to eventually get to, because you don’t want your reputation to suffer, you end up frustrated and alone. Your priorities should always come first when considering whether you can assist someone else or not. You must utilize the power of the word “no”, or else you will continue to be frustrated and stressed to no end. If you do everything, what is everyone else doing besides waiting on you to do it?
Learn to say “no” to unreasonable requests. You are not a superhero cut from a Marvel comic. You are a human, filled with flesh, blood, and feelings. Don’t let people use you. You cannot hang the moon and the stars unless they’re made out of paper and attached to popcorn ceilings. If you are constantly inundated with requests, asking you to do too much in too little time or with too few resources, stand up for yourself by saying “no”. Sure, no one wants to disappoint anyone or hurt feelings, but you don’t have supernatural powers. Your energy matters. You can forego two hours of overtime to watch your kids in their school’s production. You can forego that business lunch to spend an hour volunteering. Doing the things that you are passionate about sets you free, and you don’t have to make a drastic change to improve your quality of life. Sure, you daydream about quitting your job on a whim, but is it practical? You can take small steps to begin to live the life you deserve. You don’t have to do it all in one day, or even one year. Set your priorities. Do something each day related to your goals. And, above all else, say “no” when you need to.
Prioritize your rest and recovery. You love the idea of putting all of your blood, sweat, and tears into each project, but your physical body has needs that your mentality cannot sustain. Your mantra may be that “your next project will be your best project”, but that’s just words if you never stop to consider the benefits of rest and recovery. Moving on to the next task without proper recovery can damage your relationships and reputation. Work is both mentally and physically grueling, and, each day, you are allotted a limited amount of energy to exert. It is important that you take time to restore your mind and body by repairing the damage of your days. Learn what relaxes your body and quiets your mind. Some people may enjoy a long walk in the park after a strenuous day at work. Others may enjoy quality time with their families or a soothing bubble bath. Some may take up quilting or curl up in a recliner with a good book. Find what works for you and do it. In order for you to be ready to work again, you must rest and recover from the work of today. Never feel bad for saying “no” in the name of recovery. Recovery is something that you have earned through hard work.
When you must say “no”, feel free to offer a reason for denying the request but never offer an excuse. Presenting an excuse may send a signal that your mind is not completely made up or you may be able to be persuaded into changing your decision. No means no. Making an excuse may also provide the impression that the priorities of someone else are more meaningful than yours. This is a dangerous precedent to set. Trust your feelings, and rely on your gut instinct to make decisions that maximize your time spent working on those things that you find meaningful. You don’t need excuses. Your feelings are reason enough.
As with anger, excuses are rooted in fear. You may fear that you will damage a relationship to a point where reconciliation is not an option. You may fear failure. You may fear success. You may fear embarrassment. You may fear responsibility. You may fear poverty. All excuses are created out of fear. Therefore, you must eliminate fear to get rid of all the excuses. Fear is rooted in your past experiences and lack of solid perspective. Your perspective may be tarnished by a perceived lack of resources and lack of courage. Everything that you need to succeed is already inside of you. Don’t let fear stand in the way of the achievement of your goals. Don’t make excuses. Give a reason, not an excuse.
Think about what will happen if you don’t say “no”. You will have complaints and regrets. You will miss other more fulfilling opportunities. You will be overwhelmed by negativity. You will succumb to poor judgment. You will suffer from self-imposed mental blocks. You will miss out on your growth spurt. Failing to say “no” at the right moment paralyzes you, by preventing forward movement in your life.
Perception is everything. Creativity, persistence, patience, self-belief, and motivation are all tied to your perception. How can you make things work in your favor without positive perception? It does not work. Your mentality guides your actions. Your actions guide results and responses. If your perception is that you lack the time, money, education, planning, peer support, family guidance or other resources to get the job done, your project will remain a dream. Excuses are nothing more than limiting beliefs wrapped in a different emotional package. When you tell someone “I want to do it, but I don’t have the right educational background”, what you are really saying to that person is “I don’t want it bad enough. I fear that I am inadequate.” The only way to make your dreams become reality is to eliminate the fear and rid your life of the excuses.
You won’t feel inspired all the time, but keep going. Some days, you will feel like giving up. You may hear the little voices in your head telling you that you aren’t strong enough or smart enough to complete your task, but you have to combat this negative energy. If you must, say this aloud: I am smart enough. I am good enough. I am strong enough. I will not let my mistakes conquer my life. The Bible speaks of overcoming evil with good. Negative thoughts may naturally occur to you, but such thoughts are not necessary. You have the power to stop your negative thoughts as soon as they start. Deny what your logic is telling you in order to do what your heart leads you to do.
Starve the negative thoughts to feed the positive self-beliefs. Instead of becoming entangled in what can go wrong, focus on your growth and the positive changes in your life. You have to deny the energy you don’t want to make room for the positive vibes you crave. Every experience in your life may not fly as you expected, but that doesn’t mean that your wings will no longer work. You still have the opportunity to fly. You have to brush off the bad to prepare for better times.
You can turn any negative experience around through self-examination. After acknowledging what went wrong and analyzing all sides of the situation, you should examine yourself by asking a few questions. What can I learn from this? What have I learned about myself, my life and the role of others? What can I do better in the future? What can I do right now that would help me to move forward? By searching for a life lesson, you are positively impacting your spirit. The pursuit of knowledge will propel you forward. By examining the role of yourself and others, you are admitting any culpability, but you are also solidifying your understanding of what is tolerable and what is not. This enhances your ability to empathize and deny negativity. By considering what small step you can make to improve your circumstances, you are attracting positivity through your growth-centered attitude. Focus on solutions and strengths. Acknowledge the issues as part of your resolution process, but deny the negative self-talk that hinders you from overcoming obstacles. Your decisions and actions after a fall are much more critical to you spreading your wings than the choices you made before trying to fly.