Learning When to Say No
by: Mandy B. Anderson
The room was dimly lit as I sat at my desk staring at the computer screen, cell phone in hand. My weekly coaching call with my mentor had just ended and I was speechless.
Scale back? Work less hours and get rid of some extra activities? How in the world was that supposed to help me?
There was a part of me that felt relieved. Someone had finally given me permission to say “no” to things that had been making me anxious and exhausted. They weren’t bad things; volunteering at church as the women’s event coordinator was really fun. But it took more time than I had planned. Building my business wasn’t bad either, but it consumed my every waking thought and the pressure to succeed overwhelmed me. My health was taking a toll too. I had just gotten out of the hospital a few months ago and my coach lovingly pointed out to me that this path I was on would only lead me back there again…faster.
Also, I couldn’t remember the last time my husband and I had a real date. “What is he even doing tonight?” I wondered. As I doodled on my notepad in the dark, I realized there was another part of me that something else. Fear. I was afraid that I would fail. Afraid I would let people down. Afraid I would never be enough, have enough, do enough.
My coach asked me to trust her and against all my natural feelings to run the other way and figure out a better solution on my own, I chose a new route. I humbled myself to the authority and wisdom of my coach and followed her instruction.
Had I not obeyed that simple challenge four years ago, you would not be reading these words today. On that chilly January evening, she taught me a valuable lesson that strengthened me. She taught me when to say no.
You see, we live in a fast paced world. People can reach us faster and easier than ever before. Emails, Facebook, text messages, and tweets all pile up on top of our already busy lives. The kids need our attention, our husbands need our love and support, our friends want to find time for coffee. Somewhere in the middle of it all we lose sight of ourselves and who God designed us to be.
Many “opportunities” show up promising rewards of feeling great, helping others, and being successful only to leave us feeling alone, exhausted, frazzled, and overwhelmed. Let me clarify something: it’s okay to help others. It’s okay to be successful. It’s okay to feel great. But when we do it all at the expense of our mental health, physical health, our marriage, our kids, and our time with God, it’s not okay.
Until we are walking 100% in who God designed us to be, we can never fully live the life God planned for us; we can never really help others to the best of our ability. So we must be intentional and get back to the basics. We must build a strong foundation and then add in the rest from there. That means learning when to say no to something that doesn’t fully line up with our priorities or goals. It means asking God for wisdom to know what to say yes to and what to walk away from. Some things will stay and others will need to be let go of for a season or forever.
And this is the perfect time to begin. Right now. Today.
It’s healthy to set up boundaries. It’s healthy to know when to say no. Let’s aim for beginning new habits that last a lifetime. Let’s set ourselves up for success by protecting our priorities and the dreams that God has given us.
To help you start today, I encourage you to take a few moments to reflect on these questions, and share your answers in the comment section below:
- What are the things in your life that make you feel frazzled, exhausted, alone, overwhelmed, and just plain old spread too thin?
- If you could wake up tomorrow and do anything, what would you do?
- What is something you’ve wanted to let go of, but have been afraid to because of what others might think?
- What is something you’ve always wanted to do, but haven’t because you’ve been afraid of what others would say?
- What are your TOP 3 PRIORITIES for 2015?
May you be blessed, be healthy, and be inspired.