On My Mind – 05 – Saying No

Last week I wrote all about saying Yes. Very soon after all those thoughts came to my mind, I also thought about how it was important that I get better at saying No. I am a helpful person by nature and I am also extremely productive so I can easily get myself into a situation where I do the work of 3-4 people. Which isn’t a problem by itself, but it can become one. 

Especially if I sign up for things that are a bad combination for me. For example, one of the volunteer positions I hold for the kids’ school is working with two other parents and coordinating an event that happens three times a year. Partly because I didn’t understand the requirements well and partly because my working style is so wildly different that the other two, this one job has driven me to tears a few times this year already. It takes away energy I don’t have and adds stress that is not worth it. I should quit this job. 

But I can’t. I feel bad because I’ve committed so it feels wrong to walk away before the year is out. I’ve tried to quit a few times and I haven’t been able to do it. But I really should. I will say that I’d committed to some other volunteer position at the kids school which would actually start next year and I did back out of that after my experience here. I just don’t have it in me to commit to two years on something that might turn out to be just as poor a fit for me. I still volunteer a lot at the school. I teach once a week and I am Nathaniel’s class-mom and I organize the snacks for Math Counts. 

None of these things help my kids much but they help me be involved in the school and form connections and appreciate the school more. All of which are good things. But it’s time to say no. This work and especially the stress of this work is getting in the way of actual time I could be spending with my kids or husband or by myself or even working. All of those are more rewarding. 

And I need to learn to say No. I need to understand that I always overfill my life and that’s actually okay (for me.) What’s not ok is not being careful about what I fill it with. Things that suck energy are not allowed. Things that make me cry definitely are not allowed. So I need to learn to say no, I need to learn to quit, I need to learn to let things go.

As I often tell my clients, saying yes to something is saying no to something else (even if that other thing isn’t super visible to you at that moment.) This is also true the other way around. Saying No to something means I am saying Yes to something else and I need to remember this. 

So here’s to saying No more.


On My Mind is a year-long project for 2018. You can read more about my projects for 2018 here.

2 comments to On My Mind – 05 – Saying No

  • CarrieH

    It took me a very long time to learn to say no, but it was a lesson I needed to learn. For me, it was also to volunteering at my kids’ school. Three kids, three classes, a school I cared about and after 8 years of saying yes, I had to start saying no. But, baby steps–first I’d say I needed to check my calendar/check with my husband/think about it, but it got easier. And, it really is okay to back out of something that isn’t working for you. You will be surprised out how empowering it is. Good wishes.

  • That’s great advice about saying no to things, especially where you don’t find joy. I can relate 🙂

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