How Saying No Changed My Life and How It Can Change Yours Too

published Feb 21, 2017
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(Image credit: Lauren Kolyn)

I used to pride myself in being a “yes girl”. If my girlfriends invited me out for drinks, I said hell yeah even though what I really wanted to do was just spend the night reading in bed. If my boss asked if I could take on an extra assignment, I happily accepted even though I was already feeling overwhelmed. “Yes” was pretty much my automatic response to (almost) everything. That need to say yes stemmed partly from FOMO (fear of missing out) and partly from not wanting to let people down.

Although some of the those yesses worked out great (they got me out of my comfort zone, pushed me to achieve more and led to wonderful memories), I realized that saying yes to everything wasn’t serving me. It led me to take on too many commitments—many of which I didn’t want to do in the first place. I felt stressed and overwhelmed and had little time left over to do the things I actually wanted to do.

So, I made a simple change. I started saying no. First a little, and then a lot—and it totally changed my life. Here are four ways saying no changed my life and how it can change yours too, plus my top two tips on how you can get your no on too.

I Got to Know Myself Better

Saying no to things I didn’t want to do allowed me to discover my true desires—big and small. One “no” at a time, I started to create a lifestyle that is more in line with the person I am now. For example, I used to live for wild nights out with the girls, but these days I’m more about decadent dinners and quiet nights at home with my man, but I wouldn’t have realized that until I started declining the invitations to go out.

It Made Me Feel More Empowered

Once I got on a “no” roll, it was kind of fun and empowering. I started to feel more in control of my life because I stopped letting the opinions and expectations of others dictate my life decisions.

I’m More Aligned With My Purpose

Career wise, saying no was huge. As a freelance writer, when I started saying yes only to work that really excited me, I began enjoying my work so much more and feeling more fulfilled and less stressed in the process.

I Have Way More Me Time

Like I mentioned, I used to be a diehard “yes girl”. I regularly found myself at events/outings/celebrations/etc. wondering what the heck I was doing there when I would rather be at home watching Netflix or taking a bubble bath. I used to feel so guilty saying no to people, but now I don’t. Now I see saying no as an act of self-care. Declining all of those invitations means I’m saying yes to more me time—and that’s what’s important to me.

My Top Two Tips for Saying No

Don’t Give Explanations or Apologies

We tend to feel so guilty about saying no to something that we feel obliged to give a list of reasons and explanations why we can’t and apologize profusely. In certain situations that might be necessary (say you’re missing your sister’s graduation because of work), but in most day-to-day invitations and requests know that you are not required to give an explanation nor do you have to apologize for saying no.

Saying something as simple as “I think I’m going to pass on that, but thanks so much for the invitation” will suffice. Don’t give people vague responses or postpone the answer with an “I’ll get back to you later.” Just be straightforward and polite. People will appreciate that.

Let Go of the Guilt

Like I said before, saying no is an act of self-care and you shouldn’t feel guilty about that. Saying no means you’re saying yes to things you truly desire or that are essential to your well being like spending more time with family or just getting some extra beauty sleep. Your time is gold and you should value it as such. That means stop wasting it doing things you don’t really want to do.

Have you learned to be a “no” person, too?