What does this word “NO” mean?

Photo courtesy of Horia Varlan (Creative Commons)

I am not well-acquainted with the word “no.” Anyone else have that problem?

It’s not always a bad thing, because people know they can ask me to do something, and most of the time, I will agree. Being dependable is a good thing, right?

And many times, even if the thing I have said yes to is a stretch, I feel like I’ve grown a bit once I’ve successfully completed the task or activity. Growing is good.

But being constantly busy can have its drawbacks. I write this after several weeks when I have had hardly a moment to myself, and had to schedule my days solid in order to prepare for the commitments I had made.  My recent activities have been exciting, fulfilling, and satisfying – just too many all together! I am exhausted and have had little time for me.

So how can you be more intentional in your busyness? Consider the following steps before saying YES to any new commitment – large or small:

  • Pause – instead of an automatic “yes,” respond with “let me consider this and get back to you.” Then go through the rest of these steps.
  • Pray – for guidance and knowledge that this new activity or request is part of God’s plan for you
  • Plan – look at your calendar and/or your Life Plan and long term goals to make sure this new activity fits and does not conflict with a prior commitment (depending, of course, on the size of the obligation – an afternoon picnic is a little different than joining a new committee).
  • Prepare – make sure to build in time for preparation for the obligation, whether that means preparing the food for the picnic or doing the background reading, writing the agenda, etc.
  • Protect – “you” time. Michael Hyatt has written about “margin” (read his post here) and his “ideal week” in terms of protecting time spent with family and personal development. Look through the lens of your “ideal week” before committing to new things so that you can protect that margin time. It’s hard to be effective when you are overly tired or distracted by the next thing.

How different would your life be if you followed these steps before saying “yes”? Imagine how effective your meetings would be if you were more prepared. Your children would benefit from your complete focus and not a distracted or rushed parent. You could spend time on your own goals for fitness, health or learning.

How do you say “no” so that you can say “yes” better?

2 thoughts on “What does this word “NO” mean?

  1. Very cool! Sounds like you like to help people, Carol. I do too, and saying NO has been hard for me in the past. My problem has never been a Pleaser mentality, just a helper mentality. That being said, I have discovered my secret for saying No. (Other’s may have a different secret.) Paraphrasing: Neiamiah said, “I am involved in a great work and can’t come down.” That little phrase has helped me to stop trying to be a helper to many and be of real service to a few or just one.
    Carol, I love your question : How do you say no so that you can say yes better? Awesome! I say that it’s easier to say NO when you are working on a bigger Yes. We just have to be mindful not to tell them that their request isn’t important to us, right? Great post!

    • Thanks for such a great comment Jeremy! I like that you differentiate “pleaser” and “helper” mentality – that is true. And it is important for people not to think their request isn’t important – just not what we can focus on right now. Thanks!

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