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Saying "No", Is About Getting Clear On What You Want


Photo by Nathan Cowley from Pexels

There is a saying, “If you want something done, find the busiest person you know and give it to them.” There are lots of people who find themselves in this situation, over and over again, and wonder how it happens. They struggle with saying “no” and can often times become their own worst enemy when they become stressed and overworked.


There is a distinct trait in people who find themselves in these situations…they are “doers”.


If you were to think about this in terms of two poles, on the one side there are thinkers and on the other side, doers. Each of us, is made up of both, but we will have a tendency to have bias towards one side or the other. Some of us like to think through things, run scenarios in our heads and consider different possibilities, before we take action. Others of us, get to work, fully understanding issues and hurdles are going to come up along the way, needing to be dealt with and mistakes are likely to happen.


If you lean further to one side, the other side can feels like a scary place. If you are more of a doer, then the idea of running all the different scenarios seems like a waste of time, because how could you ever really know, anyway. If you are a thinker, then doing something without a plan, sounds like a risky proposition.


There really is no one right way. We do really need both types of people in this world. We don’t want the emergency room doctor to have to have a complete a detailed plan before she decides to stop the bleeding. At the same time, it is probably a good idea that the brain surgeon has a plan before cut into your head.


That said, the question I often get asked is, “how do I get better at saying, “no” to things?”.


As soon as someone asks me this, I know they lean towards being a doer. The answer is…you need to become more of a thinker!


When people want to move something ahead, they give it to doer. Doers immediately take action and get things accomplished. But at the same time, they often don’t think about what it means. It isn’t until they are in the depths of overwhelm, they realize they should have said “no” and promise themselves that they next time they will. Crazy thing, is that often they forget that promise!


If you are someone who finds yourself being looked at repeatedly to take on things, and then regretting it somewhere in the process, maybe it is time to make a change. Take some time and identify the things that are really important to you in your life. For example, it could be spending time with your family, reading the paper on Saturday morning with your favorite cup of coffee, and making sure you take two weeks of vacation every year. It doesn’t have to be a crazy list, but it should be the things that are important (not the things that “should” be important). Once you have that list, then make a commitment to yourself that if ever any of the things someone else might ask of you to do interferes with the list, you will say “no”.


Saying “no” becomes easier when you have a reason for saying it. When there is no reason, then you can feel selfish and sometime guilt can seep in. When you say “no” because you have made the things important in your life, really important, then it feels good. Remember is it going to require you to do a little thinking, but I know that when you do, it will all be a lot easier to get out of the doing.