Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Saying No (or not…)

I've mentioned one thousand times on this blog that I am not the best at saying no. It's not so much that I'm bad at it, but also that I often feel like I'm super busy and will never come up for air. I've tried SO much to be better about this lately. I quit all tutoring for the year so I only have one still all-consuming job. This has helped a lot. 

For one of my October goals I have committed that I will say "NO" to 3 things this month. I think I also need to not volunteer for other things in the first place, but that's another story. One of the reasons I believe that Eric and I love visiting the Cape so much is that it eliminates almost all need to say no (well other than to just say "sorry we will be at the Cape!") We can just go there and have no obligations and nothing we absolutely have to do. I don't even mean just social things. It makes me say no to cooking (too difficult to get all the necessary ingredients down for just a weekend), organizing my house (too bad, not home), and often times I don't bring work down there (though I admit I sometimes do). IMG 9674

Since I've made similar goals before with no major success, I thought it might be helpful to look at why I struggle to say no. 

1. I genuinely want to do something. This is a big problem especially with my social calendar. I am so lucky to have many friends and family who live close by, and so does Eric. This means that our weekends are often bursting with plans. The reason why I'm bad at saying no to these plans is because I genuinely want to do them. I usually really want to see our family and friends and don't want to say no. In fact, I'd like to make plans with even more people- I wish there was more time to see and spend quality time with everyone I love. 


2. It's a good opportunity or experience. For example, the only thing I've said no to so far this month is a class I was going to take. It was a great opportunity- a class about teaching math, most of it online (only 1 in class meeting) and 2 graduate credits. Plus, all my K teacher friends are taking it (see #4). But, I ultimately said no anyways. I reached Masters + 15 credits this summer, and I promised myself I would take a break from classes while pregnant and raising a newborn. I doubt I'll really last that long (maybe I will, but I'm kind of a school addict), but lasting more than 2 months would at least be an accomplishment. 


3. I feel guilty saying no. Does this even require explanation? Does anyone out there really never feel guilty saying no to something? If so, can you teach me how to not feel guilty? Sigh. I think this is the reason for which I should say no the MOST often. Sure, sometimes we all have obligations. But if I am going to improve at saying no, and thus be a more sane individual I'm going to have to let the guilt go on some things. Besides, I am less than a year away from dealing with "working moms guilt" among other mom-guilt, the last thing I need is "saying no guilt." :) 


4. I don't want to be left out of something. Yes, I'm a middle schooler. If a bunch of my friends are doing something, even if it doesn't work for me, I still have a hard time passing it up. With my workout friends doing a triathlon without me this summer, I was tempted for 5 seconds to just do it even though I know I'm not really allowed to be biking right now. I mean, I never would've done it but I didn't want to miss a tri! I considered still taking the class I knew I don't have time/energy for right now just because all my K teacher friends at work are taking it. Really Kelly? Bad reason. I think in this day and age of social media, it's easy to see what others are up and feel left out. Time to get over that. Now. 


Ideally I would focus on saying "no" to #3 and #4 things, but I think a lot of times it's not this solid- sometimes it's a mix of reasons and that just makes it all the more tricky. Let's hope I think of some more things to say no to in the next few weeks :)


I'd love to hear from you. Please share with me why saying no is difficult for you. Or, tell me what steps you take to make sure you don't overcommit and do say no sometimes!  


  1. I'm so so bad at saying no and you hit the nail on the head with your 4 reasons why. I definitely fall into the trap of #4. Sigh. I also need to get better at saying no to photography clients that are not a good fit for me.. this is a whole other issue in itself!

  2. I think we're a lot alike. While I never felt guilty for saying no, I also rarely had reason to say no ... so, I'd wind up packing my own schedule, too. But, the more responsibility we add onto our plates, the more we have to prioritize what we can and cannot do. Becoming a parent was a natural path towards simplifying my life ... in other words, I started saying no out of necessity, not because I wanted to ... but, I also realized I just cannot realistically fit as much into my life now as I did ten years ago. The good news is I still feel like I live a very fulfilling life ... just a much more balanced one. And, the bonus is that because I'm a yes girl at heart, I have magically figured out ways to include Gavin in social outings and travel that many parents would never consider with a young child. He's done just fine so far and has some pretty cool experiences under his belt already.

    You'll do great - and hopefully it won't be as painful as you think.

  3. I am the type of person who has more of a problem saying yes than saying no. Maybe it's laziness or just knowing myself real well, but I generally have no issues saying no to things I don't want to do. I'm really good at making excuses, ha, which is NOT a good character trait but yeah... I feel guilty but I am very, very selfish and protective of my time. #1 and #2 are good reasons to say yes to things, but for things I don't want to do? I just say no.

    For me, I'm trying to work to being more of someone who says YES and does things I don't think I want to do because it could wind up being really fun. I'm a little too protective of my time in some instances so I need to say yes when I don't want to and stop being so lazy. ;)

    I kinda admire people who have a hard time saying no! I wish I was better at saying yes.

  4. I've gotten very good at saying no. Too good actually. ;) I need to work on saying no in a nice way. ;P

  5. I think saying no can be one of the hardest things to do - and honestly, I feel like women get that guilty/empathy feeling more than men do. However, learning and consistently saying no for the sake of self-nurturing and preservation can be one of the strongest lessons ever. Once you do it it gets easier each time!

  6. I used to struggle saying no, then I burnt myself out. Now saying no is easier, I know if I'm saying no to one thing, it means I can say yes to something else, like savoring some all important me time. I think knowing why you struggle to say no will make it easier to follow through. Taking care of yourself is one of the most important things you can do.

  7. Oh yes, I totally struggle with this. Then I over-commit myself and get over tired and then i enjoy the things I said yes to a little less than I should. I struggle the most with this when traveling back to MN because I say 'oh sure, I will have time to see you' to WAY too many people. Not fun. I am still working on saying no, but it's not something I am great with. And honestly, sometimes I feel that as a single, childless person, I have less of a viable reason to say no to things... Anyways, I have no advice so if you figure this out, let me know. ;)

  8. I am bad for saying yes and then making excuses later on and not doing something after all haha. So bad. Right now I am SO busy at work and work commitments are taking up a lot of early mornings, evenings and weekends so I'm just using that as my excuse to say no to things. I don't like missing out on social things either though.