When I first hopped on the self care train about 3 years ago, I was a chronic people pleaser, it’s just in my nature. I would double book, over commit and that led to speeding tickets and forgetting what was important to me. It took me a really long time to diagnose this as a problem. I thought that the more people I could squeeze in, or making more appointments would make me happier, healthier, I thought that having my calendar filled up to the 15 minute increment mark was a sign of my success, little did I know not having a “NO” in my vocabulary was stifling my relationships, forcing bad habits to creep back in, and making me forget my worth, here are the 5 things that helped me to Embrace My NO and allowed me to become even more successful and so much happier.
1. Know Why You Say Yes
Wanting to say yes isn’t wrong, you’re probably wanting to say yes to people who you hope would say yes to you, or if it’s at work you want to advance and look good. Unlocking the reason that you jump to say yes before thinking about it really changes whether or not you’re willing to commit, if you feel like you have to say yes, think about where that feeling comes from, is it because you bailed on them last night, are you worried about job performance, do you feel anxious about upsetting them? These are are totally valid reasons, and you can decide to say yes or no, but try to grasp an understanding of what’s guiding your answer so that it is deliberate and not just convenient to say yes.
2. Use a Planner
I’m totally a visual person and if someone verbally asked me to do something and without hesitating I said, “yeah, I can be there” without checking my datebook I would constantly find myself overbooked. Using a day planner helps in a few ways, it buys you time, you can say, “I’m so sorry, I don’t have my book in front of me, I’ll let you know as soon as I’m able to check it” which gives you a chance to check if that’s the same time you were supposed to go to the dog park with a friend or if this commitment would carve into your gym sesh, slowing down your response time allows you to evaluate how willing you are to say yes. It also makes sure that you aren’t double booking or overcommitting yourself, there is absolutely nothing wrong with saying, “I’m busy until 3, could we try for 4 instead?” giving yourself time to decompress between social encounters and allowing each function to run later than anticipated is super important, I mean don’t you just hate when you’re in the middle of an amazing convo, want to pour another cup of tea and realize you’re supposed to meet up with colleagues to discuss business in the coming month?
3. Set Your Boundaries
There are a few things that I will not give up for anything, I always go to certain yoga classes, couple’s time is Friday nights, and I get moody when my gym schedule gets switched around. Find your core values, the most important things to you, and write them in stone. Do not agree to get coffee at 11 when pilates starts at 12 if that class is something you truly value. If you are able to have influence on your work meetings, try to make sure that they won’t interfere with hanging out with your kiddo at gymboree. Those things aren’t things that you’d like to do if you get a chance, they are your indelible appointments with yourself. Even if it’s just one specific hour day, it is sacred because it matters to you and you should matter to you.
4. Know Your Worth
If you know a thing or two about me, you’ll know that the title of this post and this point are both a part of my values and vision statement, I so truly believe that knowing your worth is one of the most special gifts that you can give to yourself, and that’s true in time management as well. Going back to #3, thinking of your appointments with yourself and as sacred is not something that we are trained to do, it is counterintuitive from how we live our lives. A whole hour just to drink tea and be alone? But I could be doing laundry, or meeting with a client, or picking up the living room, or vacuuming. Seriously, if you don’t know your worth and use that to set those good boundaries you invite yourself to be trampled, you are worth saying no, you are worth taking a 45 minute bubble bath, self care is important and the best way to take care of yourself is to realize that you deserve it.
5. Learn How to Say No
Saying no or turning people down doesn’t have to be a negative thing and you don’t owe anyone an explanation, if you have ‘7pm drink a glass of moscato and dance in underwear like Callie from Grey’s Anatomy’ penciled into your datebook and some friends from the office suggest tapas, you can say no to that, and if they press you or even nicely take interest in your plans, you can just say, “I already have plans,” or my favourite, “I’m spending time with a friend.” You are your own best friend and it is totally okay to think of yourself as such. Just know that your time belongs to you and how you spend it is your business and no one can tell you if that’s right or wrong.