Your Boss @ 8:30 a.m.: I need you to pull this report for me by 9:00 am.
You: *blinks at full coffee mug* *thinks to self - that report takes 2 hours*
Your Boss: You’ll get it done, right?
You: Yeah, no problem Boss!! *thinks to self - get away from me you dragon!!*
Your Boss: Great! You’re the best!
Your Friend’s text at 10:00 a.m. on a Friday: We should go out tonight!!
You: *reminisces about college days* Yeah! We should! That would be so fun!
Your Friend at 4:00 p.m. on a Friday: So what should we do?
You: *thinks I would rather sit on my couch all night*
Your Friend: …
You: Let’s go to the bar!! *thinks to self - WHY did I just suggest that??*
Alright, either you know what I’m talking about here or I just gave you all way too much insight into my day-to-day thoughts.
In both examples, the “you” agrees to something they don’t really want to do (or maybe aren’t even able to do like in the work example). What causes us to say yes to things we really don’t want? What make saying no so difficult?
I think chalking it up to being a people pleaser is too easy of an answer. While we’re busy wanting to be seen as hard workers and not wanting to disappoint anyone, we’re really just letting ourselves down. How many times have you said “yes” to too many things that left you feeling over stretched, strapped and stressed out?
There is one way that I have found that makes saying “no” easier. The secret is really knowing what you want to say “yes” to. I think we default to being “yes people” because we aren’t clear about what we really want. What if I told you the last thing that you said yes to eliminated all possibilities of reaching your future goals and dreams? It’s an extreme example but by saying yes in this instance, you were really saying no to what you want more than anything.
Here are 5 quick ways to figure out what you really want to say yes to:
Visualize it. Start with a simple work day. Before you leave for work, visualize what needs to get done that day. What would make it the most productive day ever? What do I need to say no to today in order to make this happen? If you want to wrap up a project you’ve been working on for a few months, will you really say yes when your co-worker asks you for afternoon coffee? No, you’ll say no! When you’ve got the hang of this, move on to grander visualizations - an entire week, an entire year, your DREAM life.
Have a week of saying no. Agree on Sunday that you will say “no” to anything new that comes up. Push yourself with this goal but try not to get anything drastic to happen… like getting fired from your job. Reflect on what you learned at the end of the week.
Always be ready with a counteroffer. A counteroffer is a good way to still say yes but put it in your terms. Friend: we should go out tonight! You: What about coffee tomorrow morning? There’s a new place I’ve been meaning to check out. Friend: sounds fun! See you there!
Make a chart (or just download the worksheet below). Make two columns. Label the first column “When I say ‘Yes to’” and the second “I’m really saying ‘no to’”. Then, start filling out the chart. “When I say yes to giving myself 10 minutes to get ready in the morning I am really saying no to putting my best foot forward.” “When I say yes to going out on Friday night I am really saying no to having a productive Saturday.” Get familiar with what’s really at stake when you say yes to too many things.
Work with a coach. Shameless plug but really, this is one thing coaches do really well. They help you clearly define who you want to be and what you really want in life. The rigorous work that happens when you work with a coach leaves you with immense clarity. Being able to courageously and confidently say YES to your dreams and goals makes saying no almost too easy.
If you want to check out that worksheet mentioned in #4, or learn more about working with me as a coach, fill out the form below!