Say No (To Say Yes To The Things That Matter)

When you say NO, you are actually saying YES to the things that matter...and the things that move you closer to your goals.Want to know one of the hardest words in the English language to say?

(It’s also one of the simplest.)

It’s “NO.”

Many of us tend to have trouble saying no to requests for our time, energy and expertise.

I am certainly guilty…especially lately.

In recent months, I’ve been feeling like there’s an increased demand for my time, participation and professional expertise. I’m honored to be considered someone people want advice from or someone people want in their group or at their event, but at some point, a line needs to be drawn.

While I want to help as many people as I can and be involved in everything, the truth of the matter is, I can’t help everyone and I can’t be everywhere. Unfortunately, there are only 24 hours in a day and between running a business and maintaining a lifestyle I love, something’s gotta give.

Here’s what I’ve learned lately about gently saying no to requests that don’t align with your goals or passions.

When you say NO, you are actually saying YES to the things that matter…and the things that move you closer to your goals. (Like this idea? Click here to tweet it)

The main reason saying no is challenging for me is because I want to help people.

A wise friend and fellow solopreneur (Hi Amy Chick!) helped me recognize that saying no doesn’t make me a bad or mean person.I told Amy I’m scared to say no to people because I’ve built my brand on being nice and useful. When I told her my fears around saying no, she said:

“No, you’ve built your brand on being bold and gutsy. You just happen to also be a nice person.”

Her response really struck me. I hadn’t thought about my brand and personality in that way before. Amy helped me realize I can *still* be a helpful (and nice!) person, even when saying no.

A couple of years ago, another smart friend told me something that has stuck with me every day and through every decision I make in regards to how I spend my time.

She said: “I find there are often two categories of people: the over doers and the under doers. The over doers find themselves too busy to do anything well and the under doers are lazy. There are a smart few, a different group, who understand that in order to conquer the world it’s best to be long-term greedy by focusing on being stellar at few things before moving onto others instead of trying (often unsuccessfully) to accomplish it all.”

I’m choosing long-term greedy. What about you?

Sometimes (even often) you need to say no. You need to recognize and respect your boundaries in order to reach your goals.

Remember: saying no doesn’t make you a mean or unhelpful person. Instead, it makes you a smart person who recognizes boundaries and shows respect to yourself and your dreams.

(Pssst- if you need help with physically figuring out how to say no-this can sometimes be the hardest part-Alexandra Franzen’s got a five-step script for crafting the perfect no.)

Tell me about a time you said NO to something to say yes to something more important. I’d love to hear your stories in the comments below.

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  • I’ve actually had to do this with Yoga Teaching. Theres a couple of opportunities that came my way which is amazing. But if I did them all I would burn myself out for sure. Great post Jess!

    • Jessica Lawlor

      That must be tough for you, especially since I’m sure it’s something you actually want to do! Those are the hardest opportunities to turn away. Good for you for setting boundaries! xo

  • Hi. Over-doer here. I can mostly handle focusing on a few priorities but I really, really struggle with not worrying about everything else at the same time. Maybe I’m always questioning if I chose the RIGHT few priorities.

    This girl’s head is currently a hot mess.

    So, this info is certainly helpful and I especially love love LOVE your friend’s advice. I’d love to see how you’re applying it specifically. I already know a few things (writing > running, your biz > helping every single person, etc) but I’d love to hear more. I read this whole thing and I’m like “yeah, yeah, yeah, so true, okay but HOW?!?” And I don’t mean the words (since you linked to scripts) I mean big picture.

    Could you please just give me all the answers to life? kthanks 😉 haha

    • Jessica Lawlor

      Girl, I hear you. I am truly an over-doer, as well, but we NEEEEED to stop!

      How I’m applying it specifically? Well, that’s a work in progress. Right now, I’m blocking my calendar well in advance so as not to get overwhelmed. I’ve been pretty good about only making evening plans after work once or twice a week max in the past few months and that helps me to have more peaceful evenings and weekdays.

      I don’t have all the answers, but I’ll keep working on that one! 😉

      • Yes please keep me posted! My calendar is jam-packed which gives me anxiety but also makes me feel like I’m doing something cool with my life. If I wasn’t playing soccer, hiking, and planning adventures, I’d feel like I’m wasting time. So… what is this “peace” word you speak of?!? 😉

        • Jessica Lawlor

          I’m not sure what the “peace” word is. I’m trying to find it…I think I lost it 😉 xo

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