No. Two letters. Easy to pronounce, but loaded on so many levels.
Some things are easy to say no to: a workout, cleaning the house, doing the grocery shopping, etc... they're low risk and can be done later. The guilt of saying no in these situations is relatively easy to get over, partially because they most likely don't involve anyone else's feelings/emotions other than your own.
In these situations you feel like you should say yes, but you end up saying no. There are so many other things you would rather do, so you procrastinate. You then feel guilty and ask yourself why Netflix won your entire Saturday afternoon, as you eat a box of crackers and PB for dinner (you have no fresh produce and no clean dishes). It's a vicious cycle that bleeds into different areas of your life...
Other situations are more difficult: telling your mom you won't be able to have dinner this Sunday night or asking your boss to lighten the workload because you can't keep working late nights, or maybe it's the damn donuts in the office on National Donut Day! These situations are difficult for a number of reasons, but what they have in common is that your gut is telling you to say no, but a lot of the time, you say yes anyway.
Why do you do this? A number of reasons, but they all related to avoiding feeling uncomfortable emotions:
- Fear of guilt or anger - I go to dinner every weekend. My mom depends on me. She will be lonely if I don't have dinner with her. She will feel unhappy or maybe get angry with me, and I don't want to make her feel that way.
- Fear of criticism - will I get fired for saying I can't handle the workload? Will I look weak? Will I miss out on an opportunity to get ahead if I say no?
- Fear of feeling my own negative emotions - the damn donut keeps me from feeling pain, frustration, boredom, loneliness or something else that may be bothering me.
Whatever your reason for saying yes or no (and really want to say the opposite), you are the only one who can control your actions, no matter how much it feels like it's not your own decision. You have to be honest with yourself, because if you neglect your gut instinct for too long, you can end up feeling pretty yucky: anxious, overwhelmed, spread thin, lonely, isolated, or moody. I know, I was there.
It's no fun living like that. So what can you do to get over saying yes, when you actually mean NO?
- Get clear on your top 2 goals for the next 6 months:
- Two goals (sometimes just one) is reasonable if they're big things. Any more than that will be too difficult to maintain.
- Are you trying to meet a partner? Get promoted to a new role? Spend more time with your family and friends? Save up for a tropical vacation? Start your side hustle?
- Journal or daydream about WHY these goals are so important to you:
- The deeper you dig, the easier this exercise will be
- For instance, maybe you want to save for a vacation to Bali, something you've always said "One day..." to. You have a passion for the water, and you SO want to scuba dive there. When you explore the water, you feel totally carefree and it drives your creative juices for months to come. It helps you recharge in your work and personal life, which ultimately drives satisfaction for you and the people you care about. And it might even get you to start that blog you've been dreaming about.
- Start saying no to small things that don't align with your top 2 goals
- Can you say no to the impulse purchases in the grocery store check out line? You have 93 tank tops, do you really need another one? Can you put that savings in a special vacation account, so you can watch the dollar amount accumulate?
- As you start saying no to small things, reflect on your progress
- Let yourself feel a sense of pride for focusing on something meaningful FOR YOU!
- Let yourself get excited for the vacation. It's becoming real! Can you put dates on the calendar? Can you buy the plane ticket? And then book the rest as the money comes in?
- Keep going! Continue connecting to your WHY.
Saying no to the small things and continuing to connect with your WHY will help you stay on track when bigger things come up. Like...
A friend's bachelorette party in Miami - you like her, but she's not your best friend, it's going to cost $1,200, you're not in the wedding, you don't want to go that bad, but you feel like SHOULD go... you feel guilty, what if a bunch of the girls say no? Can you say no and still show you care about that friend in another way? Can you let go of the guilt if you do say no, or will you feel forever indebted. Will she understand and still value your friendship? If she doesn't understand, is that the kind of friend you want? Would you understand if a friend said no to your $1,200 bachelorette party?
That felt like 20 questions... sorry if you're exhausted! I am:). But you can see, it's important to start asking yourself WHY you say yes or no to things. If you don't, you neglect your own goals and dreams and end up surrounded by those who do the same.
The moment you start listening and taking action based on your gut, your life starts to get a lot more enjoyable and ultimately meaningful and satisfying. You gain more respect from others, and attract people into your life who have similar values. Try it - start small!
If you struggle with the "yes and no dilemma" and think it's holding you back in your life and career, please reach out for a complimentary clarity session. xoxox