This last week I’ve said NO lots. And it feels AMAZING. I’m not a ‘no’ type of gal. When i’m asked to do something I normally let ‘yeah sure’ slip out before I even consider the consequences. Of course i’ll help you move, of course i’ll babysit for you, of course i’ll volunteer here there and everywhere. But this is the old me. The new me, who is still very much a work in progress, is now using ‘no’ more often. In fact, let’s be honest, sometimes, i’m gonna shout ‘NO’ from the rooftop. I’m gonna get loud and proud with my ‘NO’s’. Because when I say NO I can also say YES.
Put simply, saying NO to things I really don’t want to do (but feel i should) makes way for the YES’s that I really want. A thoughtful, considered and polite NO, so I can make equally thoughtful and considered YES decisions. So that I can say YES to the things that really matter for me and my family. So last week said NO to more part time work. Regular income is tempting but this season is about saying YES to my family. I said NO to volunteering my time as a member of a community board, because I want to say YES to volunteering in my daughters classroom. I said NO to the second birthday party in one day because I want to say YES to being a sane mum who gives her and her kids space to breathe.
No to say Yes. It simple and yet so bloody complicated and hard at the same time! If you have been like me, the old me, whose ‘Yes’s’ have all but leaked out of your body, there’s a few things you can do to start saying NO more often.
- If you want to say NO more often – to give yourself space to be able to say YES – then you’ll need to figure out what you are saying YES too. What are the things that YOU (not others) want to do with your time. What are the important things in your life. What would you do for the rest of the week, month or year if it was your last chance. What is your ‘WHY’?. Why do I do what I do…? Knowing what you want to say YES to will make it much easier to figure out what to say NO to.
- Practice saying NO to yourself first. This NO muscle will take awhile to build up. Especially around others. And when you are caught off guard with a request you’ll find yourself giving away your last YES of the day if you haven’t built your NO muscle. I’m saying NO to myself today, the part of me that wants to clean the typical monday morning ‘like a bombs hit’ house. Because my YES to my writing is more important. If I was gonna die in 2018, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t choose to spend the rest of 2017 cleaning my house.
- Count to 5!!! When you get asked to do something, little or big, take a big deep breath and count to 5. It’ll seem weird and unfamiliar. The other person will likely look at you strangely. Don’t worry, just breathe and count. When you get to 5 hopefully you will have interrupted the neural pathway in the brain that’s been wired to say YES over and over again. And then after you’ve taken your big deep breath and counted to five… tell them you’ll think about it! It doesn’t matter if you think you can easily fulfill their request. You probably won’t know that until you consult your calendar, diary, significant other, or just take more time. But most importantly, you are taking those 5 seconds to break old habits. You are rewiring your brain.
Also, remember that the little NO’s count as much as the big NO’s. My little YES’s are often the ones I say in my head. The unsolicited YES’s. They often start in my head with a ‘I should…’. Like ‘I should offer to babysit my friends children so she can have some downtime’, ‘I should bake a birthday cake for my brother in law even though I know I have zero space in my day to do it’. Or, ‘wow, you’re writing a book? I’d love to help you edit it!’. (I still cannot believe that this statement – totally unsolicited – rolled off my tongue). Left unchecked these ‘should’s’ quickly turn into YES’s and before you know it I have zero YES’s at the end of the day for my family.
So me and NO are gonna get real familiar with each other. We are buddies, pals for life now. Number 1, knowing what I want to say YES too – I know that bit now. I started off with a bang, saying NO to my dream job so that I could say YES to my mental health and my family. I just need to keep practicing, keep building my NO muscle, even in the small things. So today, i’m saying no to excessive cleaning!
What can you say a loud and proud NO to today???