Gunk of Low-Energy Living: saying no

Here’s the problem: Saying yes too often and to the wrong things means you end up drained and depleted. Overwhelmed and exhausted. And, truth be told, feeling burdened, put upon, and probably a little resentful.

We say yes to be needed, liked, and avoid disappointing others.

We say yes out of guilt, out of duty, and to keep up appearances.

We say yes because we think we should or have to, and because it’s expected.

We say yes because we’re on autopilot and go along to get along.

Yes. Si. Oui. Ja. Da. Sure. By all means. OK. I’ll do it. Absolutely. Okey-dokey. Of course. Add it to the list.

The bar is too low for what we say yes to. This means:

  • You spend time on things that really don’t matter.
  • You dread upcoming obligations you wished you’d said no to.
  • Your schedule is too full to say yes to meaningful opportunities.
  • You procrastinate on tasks and they nag in the back of your mind.
  • Your time and life don’t feel like your own.

None of this is energy giving.

Here’s how to defeat this energy-draining lie: Commit to saying no more often. Say yes less quickly. Rigorously evaluate potential commitments—before you say yes. Say no as a complete sentence. Don’t explain, don’t justify.

It helps to have a script. Here are ways to say no:

  • No, thank you.
  • Thanks for asking, but I’ll need to say no.
  • I appreciate being asked, but I can’t take that on right now.
  • Thanks for asking. Let me get back to you.
  • Thanks for asking, but that’s not a good fit for me.
  • I won’t be able to say yes, but have you considered…
  • I won’t be able to say yes to X, but I can do Y.

The truth is: You don’t have to say yes. And saying no doesn’t have to be hard. You just have to make a decision to stop your Yes Si Oui Ja Da ways.