Man, I think Fearless Leader Jon was looking right at a photo of me when he wrote this one. (Not literally… I actually doubt he has any photos of me. That would be creepy since we barely know each other and all.)
Let’s talk about the word you need to say most when you are hustling on a goal, “No.”
This is a hard one for me, because it’s fun to say yes. That word makes people happy. Yes I will do that. Yes I will be there. Yes I will work on it. But sometimes, we don’t understand that when we say yes, we are saying no to the things that really matter.
Here are three ways to say no to things that might distract you:
1. Prepare for yes situations.
Right now, about 10 people a week ask me to say yes to going to coffee with them. But if I say yes to everyone, that’s a lot of time I won’t be spending doing what I feel called to do, writing. So in preparation for that, I’ve written a standard email response. Do some people wish I would say yes? Sure, but no is the right decision in a lot of those cases.
2. Check your motivations.
If we’re honest, sometimes we yes for the wrong reasons. For instance, if I go speak to a bunch of organizations about topics that aren’t in my core strength, the reason I’m doing it is for money. Is it OK to do that sometimes? I guess, but each day I spend on the road away from my real goals, I get further away from being who I am trying to be. Be honest about your motivations. Why do you keep saying yes to the wrong things?
3. Get a no partner.
Don’t try to say no alone. Get someone who can help you do that. We all have a friend who is a master of no. They don’t worry about hurting someone’s feelings or disappointing someone if no is what they should say to a request. Find a master of no and tell them that you, like me, are a wimp when it comes to the word no.
The word yes is very expensive. You only have a few opportunities to spend it every day. Don’t waste it on situations that deserve to hear the word no.
This is a lesson that Crystal Paine, aka Money Saving Mom, drives home a lot as well. To paraphrase, Crystal frequently says that if you want to make room in your life for the things that matter the most to you, you have to learn to say “no.”
Put another way, she also says, “When you say ‘yes’ to one thing, you are saying ‘no’ to something else.”
This is definitely a hard one for me. I am an absolute champion at saying “yes.” In fact, I am such a champion at it that one time, when I quite clearly and distinctly said “no” to someone, they heard “yes, for a short while,” and I landed a commitment I had actually turned down.
(A good thing did arise from this, but I digress.)
I do have a hard time saying “no.” Now on one hand this is a good thing. I say “yes” to things like school parties and book fairs as often as possible, because I enjoy these and get such pleasure out of being around kiddos during these times. I said “yes” a little over a year ago to becoming the children’s Sunday school worship leader, and I’m so glad I did, because it has been a blessing to me (and hopefully those kiddos as well).
But at other times, it has come close to becoming a serious burden in my life.
I was once really close to saying “yes” to another commitment that probably would have derailed me. I never actually did say “yes,” but I never actually said “no” either. That was probably what saved me – the fact that I wasn’t demanded an answer right away. I wimped out and gave no answer, which was essentially a “no.”
I also seriously considered another “yes” until my husband talked me out of it. It was a good thing he was there. I nearly signed on that dotted line, and there would have been no turning back then.
For all these times I avoided saying “yes” when I should have, one time I did say “yes” to something against my better judgment, and sure enough it was a disaster. It required organizational and administrative abilities that I didn’t have, and it was a heavy burden on my heart for months because I knew I was blowing it. But I was too cowardly to admit to the person who asked me to take on the commitment that I couldn’t continue doing it. To her everlasting credit (and my everlasting relief), she eventually told me that she thought it should go in a different direction and not to feel guilty that it hadn’t panned out the way we had hoped.
Nowhere will this need to say “no” when I’m tempted to say “yes” be more crucial than when I’m trying to help us stick to a budget.
As I mentioned yesterday, I’m not much of a shopper. That won’t be a problem for me. My problem comes when sweet people (especially young ones) come a-fundraisin’. They ask if I can order from this catalog or make a donation, and I just find it all but impossible to turn them down. They’re so sweet! Their cause is so worthy! I might be their only hope!
That could totally wreck our budget.
We already have a sizable amount of our budget that goes toward donations. Most of that chunk goes to our church (which does some awesomely amazing work towards helping the needy); the rest goes to additional donations. The additional donations category is quite small, but we can save it up and do something great, or we can give it away in increments.
That’s what I’m going to have to do to make this work – avoid the “oh but you’re so sweet” syndrome unless it falls within our budget. It won’t be easy – it really is so much more fun to say “yes.” But as Crystal points out, saying “yes” to one thing is saying “no” to something else.
Do you have trouble saying “no”?