I fairly regularly experience what I term a “crisis of abundance.” There are SO many great things to do in the world: SO many great causes, so many wonderful organizations, so many beautiful books, and just so many good things to do with my time. I prefer this state to having a crisis of scarcity or lack, but abundance brings its own challenges and saying “no” or “enough” to the requests for my time is one of those. I feel fortunate that I am humming with life purpose (most of the time), but I also have to be mindful that this hum of energy does not lead me to overcommit and to stretch myself too thin.
This past week, I said “no” to two birthwork-related opportunities that were very appealing, but that I know in my heart that I don’t have the time, space, or energy for right now. It was very empowering and actually semi-thrilling to say,”no” and to mean it. I felt smart and that in these situations saying no was taking care of myself (saying no to someone else = saying “yes” to myself” sometimes!). Perhaps not coincidentally, after my “No” experiences, I received an article to share from life-balance expert Renée Trudeau. I really like her “Nine Creative Ways to Say No.” Enjoy!
Four Key Strategies for Balanced Living by Renée Peterson Trudeau, life balance expert/speaker
~Know your top priorities & effectively manage your energy: What in life is most important to you? How good are you at managing your energy? What is draining you? What is fueling you? Are you comfortable saying “no” and not over committing? “Things which matter most should never be at the mercy of things which matter least.” Goethe
~Make your self-renewal a priority: By filling your cup first, you’ll have more to give to clients/family/friends, you’re able to function at your optimum and you’ll be setting an example for healthy, balanced living for those around you. Self-care (on all levels physical/mental/emotional/spiritual) should be part of your every day life. “Self-care is not about self-indulgence, it is about self-preservation.” A. Lorde
~Build a personal support system: What type of and how much professional & personal support do you need to feel emotionally healthy and stress-free? Learn to ask for and receive help. Re-evaluate your support needs every three months; these change based on your current life stage.
~Be more present in all that you do: Stress and overwhelm are often brought on by dwelling on the past or living in the future. By spending more time living in the present and focusing on what is most important in the here and now, the calmer, more effective we become.
Nine Creative Ways to Say “No”
Below you’ll find specific language to support you in saying “no.” Most people find that the more they say “no,” the easier it becomes say “yes” to those things that really matter.
(1) Just No: “Thanks, I’ll have to pass on that.” (Say it, then shut up.)
(2) The Gracious No: “I really appreciate you asking me, but my time is already committed.”
(3) The “I’m Sorry” No: “I wish I could, but it’s just not going to work right now.”
(4) The “It’s Someone Else’s Decision” No: “I promised my coach (therapist, husband, etc.) I wouldn’t take on any more projects right now. I’m working on creating more balance in my life.”
(5) The “My Family is the Reason” No: “Thanks so much for the invite, that’s the day of my son’s soccer game, and I never miss those.”
(6) The “I Know Someone Else” No: “I just don’t have time right now. Let me recommend someone who may be able to help you.”
(7) The “I’m Already Booked” No: “I appreciate you thinking of me, but I’m afraid I’m already booked that day.”
(8) The “Setting Boundaries” No: “Let me tell you what I can do …” Then limit the commitment to what will be comfortable for you.
(9) The “Not No, But Not Yes” No: “Let me think about it, and I’ll get back to you.”
(This list is adapted in part from Work Less, Make More—Stop Working So Hard and Create the Life You Really Want, by Jennifer White.)
Trudeau is a nationally-recognized career/life balance coach, president of Austin-based Career Strategists and the author of The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal: How to Reclaim, Rejuvenate and Re-Balance Your Life. Sign up to receive monthly life balance tips, order the book, find out about upcoming retreats/events and learn more about Trudeau’s coaching groups at www.ReneeTrudeau.com or www.CareerStrategists.net.