Just Say “No!”


I don’t know about you, but just when I thought life could not get any busier– COVID-19! Our entire lives have been rearranged overnight.  Six months in, there seems to be no end in sight.  I am still waiting for a “normal” week.  Suddenly I am doing all I ever was, but from home, while also supervising e-learning, providing childcare for my littlest one, and prepping 140 meals and snacks a week. I laugh that I ever felt stressed before!

This pandemic living is not my jam, and yet, we are here, for the long haul. I feel inundated and exhausted. I have reached my surge capacity. Decision fatigue is setting in and it’s time for self-preservation. As we are all flooded with opportunities to do more, It’s time to “just say no” to a few things.  

Easier said than done, right? No one loves saying “no,” but I am trying on these three filters before committing to anything new. I hope you will too and give yourself permission to say “no” (for any reason you want, but especially) if:

  1. It doesn’t serve YOUR mission.

What’s your purpose and mission? I find this a helpful filter for assessing things that are urgent but not important. It’s easy to say “yes” to urgent because the point of the work gets lost in the frenzy to do the work. However, asking “what’s the point?”  re-centers me and helps me understand if the purpose of the task is in line with my purpose. If it doesn’t matter enough, or at all, you know what to do!

  1. It costs too much.

There is a cost to everything you say “yes” to. What has to give to say “yes” to the new thing? How much time, attention, and energy gets diverted from something else and is that something else more important?

This one is the hardest for me. I am guilty of convincing myself that one more thing won’t hurt, and by itself, it doesn’t. It’s the accumulation of all the “one more things” that add up and become overwhelming. That’s when I find myself overcommitted, feeling trapped, frazzled, and resentful. Don’t trigger this trap, trigger the truth of what’s involved before taking it on!

  1. It’s a deal-breaker.

Even worse than taking something on that might not fit with your personal mission are commitments that you pointedly told yourself you would not make. Be aware of what simply must not end up on your plate and why. Remembering the why is key–recall the feelings associated with taking on the kind of thing you said you would not. If resentment is creeping in, it’s a deal-breaker.  

Say yes to something you CAN do. 

In the end, I still say “yes” more often than “no.” It’s human nature to want to say “yes!”. Capitalize on that tendency by asking yourself if there’s a different “yes” you can give.  For example, “I’m not able to make a meal plan this week.  I can go to the grocery if you give me the list.”  Have empathy for the request, the work needs to get done after all, and present an alternative solution.  The point is to show support in some other way and offer a commitment that you can keep. 

So the next time someone asks more of you, ask more of yourself instead.