There are a lot of lessons I still haven’t learned.
I still go to bed with wet hair. I surf when I’m sick. And I tend to skip meals and head directly to dessert.
But the one lesson I have yet to master — OK, even attempt to try — is the one many of us struggle with everyday.
I can’t say no.
It’s really not in my vocabulary.
I mean, I can say no to peas and ruffled tops. But I can’t say no to things that take up a lot of my time.
I volunteer a lot, plan get-togethers, bake for parties, drive people around, edit papers, even instruct friends on the glorious power of Google calendars.
And I can’t seem to stop.
It wouldn’t be so bad if these things didn’t take me away from my larger personal and professional goals. But I think they are.
My mom reminded me last night how many hours a week I devote to one particular volunteer organization — and it shocked me. It’s like a part-time job — only without pay.
I don’t think saying yes is necessarily a bad thing. I appreciate people who try to help out, people you can always rely on, who will suck it up to do something for others. But there has to be a limit. I just don’t know what that limit is.
According to the Mayo Clinic, saying no can directly impact your stress levels. When you think about all the time you can take back and use toward other things — working toward your professional goals, hanging out with friends, cooking dinner for once — you could regain control of your life and your health.
Here are some reasons for saying no, according to the Mayo Clinic:
- Saying no isn’t necessarily selfish. When you say no to a new commitment, you’re honoring your existing obligations and ensuring that you’ll be able to devote quality time to them.
- Saying no can allow you to try new things. Just because you’ve always helped plan the company softball tournament doesn’t mean that you have to keep doing it forever. Saying no will give you time to pursue other interests.
- Always saying yes isn’t healthy. When you’re overcommitted and under too much stress, you’re more likely to feel run-down and possibly get sick.
- Saying yes can cut others out. On the other hand, when you say no you open the door for others to step up. They may not do things exactly the way you would, but that’s OK. They’ll find their own way.
I have to admit, these are pretty convincing reasons.
Anyone have the same problem? (It’s OK to say yes.)